Traditional Chiefs Endorse Resolution to Support Gov’t’s Pro-Poor Agenda

GANTA, Nimba – Several traditional leaders gathered on Wednesday, June 6 unanimously signed and endorsed a resolution in support of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda.

The traditional chiefs’ decision followed a three-day national meeting about the government’s development agenda.

According to the resolution, the traditional chiefs agreed to the following:

  1. To work, support, and promote the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda, which puts the poor people in the center of governance and improves the living conditions of the poor in rural communities.
  2. To commend the government for the initiatives undertaken to sustain peace, security, and reconciliation through the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda.
  3. To promote and encourage the respect of positive cultural values and norms of the various ethnic groups of Liberia.
  4. To support and promote the works of the various ministries, agencies, commissions, and authorities of government.
  5. To promote and uphold gender equity and equality by ensuring women’s participation in decision making processes, striving to reduce the gender imbalances by eliminating early marriages and forced initiation of boys and girls into traditional societies during the academic school period.
  6. To support the re-introduction of the hut tax to be paid annually for the development of their country, which enhances their participation in the promotion of the government’s pro-poor and development initiatives.
  7. To endorse the government’s plan to introduce a road user toll system for all vehicles plying various roads, especially at major bridges.
  8. To support the desire and initiative of the government to conduct chieftaincy elections, which should be preceded by the harmonization of all clan and chiefdoms boundary disputes.
  9. To undertake communal farming in chiefdoms under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with coordination and provision of technical and material support from the Ministry of Agriculture, taking into consideration the farming calendar.
  10. To recommend that while elections of chiefs are pending, disciplinary actions against chiefs should originate from the office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and not from the office of the county superintendent.
  11. To recommend that the president of Liberia organize and have semi-annual meetings with traditional leaders to inform them of the government’s activities and give their inputs into the governance of the country.

Following the signing of the resolution, Chief Zanzan Karwah, chairman of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, told The Bush Chicken in an exclusive interview that the essence of the gathering was to enable the traditional leaders get a clear understanding of the Pro-Poor Agenda, which he said several government officials explained to them.

Chief Zanzan Karwah, chair of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, signed the resolution. Photo: Zeze Ballah

“We have understood what is meant by pro-poor,” Karwah said. “If traditional leaders do not help President George Weah in his developmental agenda, no indigenous Liberian will ever become president of the country.”

According to Karwah, he was able to convince other chiefs and traditional leaders to allow the government to reintroduce the hut tax because it “will help the government in its development drive.”

He said borrowing alone will not solve the country’s problem and the government needed other sources of income.

Mary Larteh, a paramount chief from Bong. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Mary Larteh, the only female paramount chief from Bong who signed the resolution, also told The Bush Chicken she was glad that chiefs are part of the country’s decision making.

“The decision reached at the conference is for all Liberians,” she said. “I am also happy that women were part of the process in Nimba.”

She urged Liberians to put their country first in everything they do.

Representatives of several government agencies were present at the conference to inform the participants on their specific mandates as they relate to the Pro-Poor Agenda.

The National Traditional Leaders Conference was funded by USAID and the Swedish government and was organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Carter Center.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah  

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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