On April 18 in Baakline (Lebanon), under the patronage of the President of the Democratic Gathering, Member of Parliament Mr. Taymour Jumblatt represented by MP Marwan Hamadeh, was launched the conference “Local Authorities: between reality and the future proposals” organised by the Union of Municipalities of Chouf Souejani in cooperation with the Chouf federations and municipalities.

The conference was attended by representatives of a number of ministers and officials in the region, several members of Parliament, representatives of a number of trade unions, security and military leaders, parties and heads of federations, municipalities and mayors, directors and representatives of economic, social and educational bodies, and international organizations including UNICEF and the UN-Habitat as well as Deputy Prime Minister, Bader Zaidan.

The opening session started with a general presentation on the facts and realities of municipalities. Engineer Yahya Abu Krom, President of the Federation of Municipalities of Chouf Souijani, insisted on the role and empowerment of Lebanese municipalities and their dire need to strengthen their capabilities in terms of legislations and laws in order to enhance their effectiveness and presence on the national scene and secure a transition towards a balanced and sustainable regional development.

MP Mr. Hamadeh, in turn, tackled the subject of the “Taëf Accord” which stipulated the adoption of expanded administrative decentralization at the level of local authorities, and the fact that, three decades later, this has not been achieved yet; while MP Mr. Alain Aoun spoke about the role of decentralization in developing the political system and former Minister Dr. Khaled Qabbani presented the concept of decentralization in the Lebanese constitution and elaborated on its organizational political and economic dimensions.

For his part, former Minister, Mr. Baroud clarified the scopes and rules of administrative decentralization explaining “the type of work, projects and services that fall under the banner of municipalities in that case and what remains within the powers of the central state.”

As for Mr. Tarek Osseiran, UN-Habitat country Programme Manager, he explained the Organisation’s intervention in Lebanon.
During the second session, UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Haig assured of their support to the Lebanese government, and said she remains hopeful and looks forward to the coming year regarding the implementation of CEDARE.

MP Mr. Naamat Afram, in his turn, suggested a regulation for exempting the municipalities from the debts of the solid waste management; while MP Mr. Georges Adwan discussed the solid waste management and the role of the ministries concerned and MP Dr. Bilal Abdallah talked about the expanded decentralization and keeping care of the public money. For him political sectarianism is a dilemma and should be abolished in order to start the work at a good pace.

The conference ended with several suggestions and recommendations.

Official press release in Arabic is available here