Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson has reiterated that there will be no municipal and Local Government elections in the country until certain issues are addressed, such as legislating what constitutes towns, cities, clans, districts and the overlapping of functions. “We need to streamline and rationalize these issues,” he said.
Delivering the keynote address at the regular Thursday press briefing organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) in the Charles Gbenyon Press Hall of the Ministry under the theme 'The Road Map to Reconciliation', the Decentralization Policy' last week, the Internal Affairs minister outlined that as yet, there is no clear Road map and decentralization plan.
According to minister Nelson, besides implementing the decentralization policy his ministry is charged with the responsibility to streamline the local government structure, advance the national peace building, healing and reconciliation program as well as implement the National Identification Registry.
Minister Nelson gave the impression that although the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has made some achievements with regards to the implementation of government's decentralization policy such as identifying the root causes of Liberia's problems, legislation of what constitutes cities, towns, clans, districts and municipalities there remains several obstacles to overcome.
He said the payroll of the MIA carries about 6,000 employees, but there are apprehensions that it may have some ghost-names, the road map for peace building, national healing and reconciliation is being formulated.
He added that the Act creating the National Identification Registry has been enacted, the Board appointed by the President and a one year FY- 2012-13 operating budget has been prepared, but not yet funded and an Interim management team has been appointed.
Minister Blamo indicated that the road map to national peace building, healing and reconciliation is being validated. “We have met with members of the relevant committees of the National Legislature, leaders of political parties, lawyers of the National Bar Association (NBA) the Constitution Review Commission and other stakeholders including the UN Peace Building Fund and regional validation consultations are expected soon,” he said.
Dilating on the MIA payroll issue, Internal Affairs minister Blamo Nelson disclosed that his ministry has began a full scale personnel re-documentation exercise meant to validate the MIA payroll and to provide definitions and roles for the seven levels of the local government administrative system such as districts, cities, towns, clans etc.
“We plan to convene the First National Urban Forum of Liberia with the objective of developing the strategy for survey and lay-out of select urban areas. MIA is collaborating with the Governance Commission, the National Electoral Commission, the Law Reform Commission, the Constitutional Review Commission to draft the new Local government Act to be submitted to the National Legislature in the first quarter of 2013, “he said.
In addition, “We are also finalizing plans to collaborate with the Land Commission, LISGIS and NEC to tackle the issue of boundary harmonization and with support from the UN-Habitat and consultations with stakeholders we hope to organize Liberia's first Urban Forum,” Minister Blamo Nelson pointed as reasons why local government and municipal elections will be delayed.
The MIA boss outlined that by June 2013; they will begin the implementation of the decentralization plan, make the disaster and emergency system functional across the country, begin a form al retirement program for MIA personnel, and continue the county support retreat.
He added that by June 2013 MIA hopes to ensure the removal of ghost names from the payroll, produce directional maps for all urban localities in Liberia, make follow-ups on ongoing urban programs, produce template municipal by-laws and constitution, provide potential training opportunities for urban administrators and managers. This means that mayors and other local government officials that have been appointed by the President will remain acting such as Madam Mary Broh of the Monrovia Municipal Corporation. Writes John Momoh.