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Friday, July 19, 2024

DELTA-HRF CALLS OUT GOVERNMENT OVER ILLEGITIMATE CHIEFS AND BUDGET ISSUES

Date:

BONG COUNTY, LIBERIA – Jesse B. Cole, the Executive Director of the Development Education Leadership Training in Action Human Rights Foundation (DELTA-HRF), has strongly criticized the government’s handling of local governance issues in Bong County. Speaking at a press conference on June 17, 2024, Cole emphasized the importance of adhering to the Local Government Act of 2018, specifically regarding the appointment of Chiefs and the allocation of funds in the national budget.

Cole raised concerns over recent changes in paramount Chiefs, including the removal of Jorquelleh Chiefdom Paramount Chief, Hon. Mary Lateh, in June 2024. He argued that these actions by the Ministry of Internal Affairs violated provisions outlined in chapters 2.15 X and 2.15 Y of the Local Government Act (LGA), which specify the legitimate processes for appointing Chiefs.

Furthermore, Cole criticized what he described as a growing collaboration between the Executive and Legislative branches of government, which he believes undermines decentralization efforts and violates constitutional principles of separation of powers. He highlighted the allocation of USD $100,000 for each of the 73 Representatives and USD $150,000 for each of the 30 Senators in the National Budget for district development. Cole pointed out that this allocation bypasses existing local structures established under the LGA, such as County Development Officers and County Councils.

“Why would lawmakers duplicate efforts by self-administering development funds that should be managed through existing local structures?” Cole questioned, highlighting the contradiction in empowering local governance structures while sidelining them financially.

DELTA-HRF’s Lead Human Rights Defender further criticized the delay in publishing the approved National Budget 2024, signed by President Joseph N. Boakai, calling on the Ministry of Finance to expedite its release for public scrutiny and legal reference.

In conclusion, Cole underscored the need for the government to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, and decentralization as enshrined in the Local Government Act and the Constitution. He urged citizens and international rights groups to scrutinize the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches and their implications for governance in Liberia.

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