The Executive Director of the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy has damned the Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Diana Konomanyi for illegally suspending the Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City, Saa Emerson Lamina and his deputy from office.

Speaking to Global Times yesterday, the CARL boss quoted sections of the Local Government Act emphasizing that Minister Diana Konomanyi has no such powers, expressed or implied to suspend a Mayor or Chairperson of any City or District Council.

Mayor Lamina and his deputy were suspended by the Minister early this week on allegations of corruption after seeking executive clearance from the office of the President. Tommy said Minister Diana’s action in seeking executive clearance was meant to legitimize an illegal action.

Ibrahim Tommy said the power to remove a Mayor or Chairman lies with the local councils themselves not with the Minister of Local Government, maintaining however that the ministry has powers to
monitor, supervise and take actions where necessary to strengthen local councils.

While insisting that the Local Government Act, 2004 has no provision for the suspension of a Mayor or Chairperson, Tommy said removing them from office can only be done by the councilors of a local council. Quoting Section 12 of the Local Government Act, 2004, he said a
two third majority of councilors can resolve to remove their Mayor or Chairperson on the grounds of abuse of office or corruption and other related charges. The resolution, according to the Act is put in to writing and forwarded to the Minister. The Minister then takes the resolution to the Chief Justice who sets up a panel to review them.
The Panel can endorse the resolution if there is a prima facie evidence thus paving the way for the removal of the Mayor or Chairperson. “In this case that was not done; instead the Minister
sought executive clearance to suspend the Mayor”.

He said although the Minister of Local Government has enormous powers, the power to suspend or dismiss a Mayor or Chairperson of local council does not fall within their purview.

Tommy said under Section 97(1) and (4), the Minister or Ministry can monitor and supervise local council and can also take certain action to strengthen or capacitate and can also take certain actions to
rectify default and to ensure local councils act within the scope of the Local Government Act.

“It is clearly stated in the Act that the Minister can withhold or reduce fund to a particular council which fails to act within the scope of the Local Government or which fails to perform. But there is nothing in the Act that gives the Minister any power whether expressed or implied to suspend a Mayor or Chairperson”, Tommy clarified.

The CARL boss opined that the best the Minister could have done after receiving the complaints about the Mayor particularly complaints bordering on corruption was to have forwarded such to the Anti-
Corruption Commission. He added that Section 103 of Local Government Act states clearly that ACC laws apply to the Act.