A Presidential Decree this Thursday gave details on the duties of the Public Independent Conciliator in the Northwest and Southwest regions as provided for in the Law to Institute the General Code on Regional and Local authorities.

Section 371 of Law no. 2019/24 of December 24, 2019, says, “A decree of the President of the Republic shall lay down the terms and conditions for discharging the duties of the Public Independent Conciliator.”

Thursday’s decree, therefore, comes to set the ball rolling for the Special Status period to begin the North West and South West Regions, hopefully, to aid in resolving the ongoing conflict.

“The Public Independent Conciliator shall be an independent authority, with regional jurisdiction. He shall have legal personality and financial autonomy,” states the Presidential Decree.

The Public Independent Conciliator, to be appointed by the President of the Republic, has a primary duty to settle disputes between Regional Councils and individuals and ensure Regional authorities are ethical in performing their functions.

“The Public Independent Conciliator shall submit to the President of the Republican annual report on the state of relations between citizens and regional and council services. The report shall present the balance sheet of his activities,” the Presidential Decree states.

Based on the decree, the new office, comprised of at least 20 specialized employees and headed by an appointed Public Independent Conciliator, shall perform several duties including settlement of disputes between users and Regional Councils; ensuring that Regional authorities perform their ethical duties; prevent discrimination against users of Regional Council services and conduct investigations on the Regional Council.

Although the Public Independent Conciliators for both regions have not been appointed, the official is expected to come from the region in question and will be proposed by the President of the Regional Council Executive and appointed by the Head of State.

The Public Independent Conciliator will be expected to do direct checks on the Regional Council relationship with citizens in the performance of duties.

However, the fact that the President will appoint the official puts his independence to question, as he may likely be answerable to the Head of State just like other appointed state officials.

The law however says such an individual will serve for a six-year non-renewable term.