Following a year-long engagement by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) with key local government stakeholders in Liberia, the National Association of Mayors and Local Authorities of Liberia (LIBMALGA) is now poised for launching. The project was implemented with the support of the European Commission and the Cities Alliance within the framework of the UCLG-Africa’s “Governance, Advocacy and Decentralized Development Program for Africa (GADDEPA)”. The findings and recommendations of a study conducted by Professor Johnson Badé FALADE of Nigeria were presented at a stakeholders meeting held on 6 February 2017. The meeting adopted the report and set up a task team to finalise the Association statutes and prepare for their adoption during March 2017. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which has been highly supportive, offered to provide an office to host the Secretariat of the nascent national association.
During this meeting, which brought together the local authorities’ mayors of Liberia and representatives of civil society organizations, Professor FALADE reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the current situation in Liberia especially the need to move from high centralisation or other forms de-concentration to decentralisation through placing responsibility and authority on elected local government institutions. This transformation would foster greater citizens’ participation in local decision-making, thus, reinforcing democracy and transparency in local governance. The study that concluded the establishment of a national association of mayors and local authorities in Liberia was validated unanimously.
The validation workshop was opened by the Honourable Henrique F. TOKPA, Minister of Internal Affairs of Liberia. Speaking to the participants, the Minister recalled the commitment of the Liberian government to mainstream decentralization in its basic law and in its legislative body, which has not been the case since the birth of the country about two centuries ago. In addition to providing office space, the Honourable Minister also undertook to provide technical support staff to support the start-up of its activities. Anticipating the results of the feasibility study, the municipal authorities of Liberia, on 27 September 2016, declared the creation of the new association, which is chaired on an interim basis by Ms Rebecca BENSON, Mayor of the City of Tubmanburg.
UCLG Africa was represented at the workshop by Mr Charles PATSIKA, Director of Membership Development, Networks Coordination and External Relations and Mr Joachim HUNLEDE, Program Officer at the UCLG Africa Regional Office for West Africa in Accra.