SRSG Farid Zarif
UN Official Warns Of Fall-Outs From House’s ‘Political Wrangling’
By Joseph Toe
MONROVIA, August 26 (LINA) - The political wrangling among members of the House of Representatives has claimed the attention of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) who has warned of serious consequences of the situation.
He cited one of the consequences as the delay in adopting the 2016/2017 National Budget which could affect financing of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and preparatory activities, including those related to security for the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
The squabble in the lower House originated from the indictment of Speaker Alex Tyler by the Criminal Court “C’ in May on criminal charges for allegedly receiving a bribe from the U.K-based Sable Mining Company to change the country’s Public Procurement and Concessions Commission law to grant Sable access to the iron ore rich Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.
This prompted a call by some members of the House for his recusal from presiding over sessions of the august body until cleared of the charges.
The failure of the House to reach a consensus on the issue has stalled the work of Legislature, including the passage of 2016/2017 National Budget.
Briefing the UN Security Council about the situation in Liberia at the UN in New York Thursday, SRSG Farid Zarif said the delay in adopting the national budget to finance NEC’s and other preparatory activities is a reason for concern.
“This should also be viewed against the background of hardening the socio-economic environment due to the worsening economic outlook which has prompted the introduction of austerity measures and revising downwards the current year's budget and an 11 per cent decrease in the proposed budget for the next year,” he said.
Zarif indicated that in Liberia, as anywhere else, the prevention of conflict can only be effective in the context of broader social, political and economic transformations, and the respect for the rule of law.
He then expressed concern about the overall lack of progress on addressing the underlying causes of divisions and exclusion in Liberia.
“The failure to robustly pursue reconciliation and delays in structural changes, such as land reform and decentralization, raise a ‘red flag’ about future prospects for peace and security,” he said.
According to Zarif, many Liberians are concerned about the prospect of the UNMIL withdrawal and potential lack of UN support during the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
“There is a consensus among national actors that the next elections will be a critical test for Liberia's stability, democracy and development,” Mr. Zarif said.
He emphasized that “both the Government of Liberia and the international community must not lose sight of the still arduous path to sustainable peace” in the country and the region, which “will require long-term robust engagement by all concerned, particularly by this august Council.”