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In Sierra Leone: Lawyers fear for democracy…

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“The Fight Is Far From Over” Serry-Kamal, Marrah Slam

By Abu Bakarr Dumbuya

The Elective Congress of the Sierra Leone Bar Association has ended up in chaos in the eastern part of Sierra Leone.

Speaking to We Yone in a telephone conversation from Kenema, at least, 10 members of the bar have described the elective congress as the worst in the history of the Bar, expressing fear for democracy.

card-carrying member of the controversial regime, Tuma Gento-Kamara, was declared president of the Bar amidst controversy that surrounds the fact that majority of the lawyers were prevented from voting.

Other contestants for the presidency, Wara Serry-Kamal and Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah have described the elections as a sham.

 Wara Serry-Kamal, in a statement last evening thanked her supporters for “the unwavering courage, determination, and support you have shown in the last few weeks.’’

Serry-Kamal said the events in Kenema “have no doubt tested our resolve’’ further lauding the strength and steadfastness of her supporters.

“… today has sent a message that we will not be silenced or deterred in our quest for an independent Bar Association,’’ adding the Kenema Bar event occasion a blatant disregard for democracy and the principles which make the bar a unique, independent and servant of justice.

The fight, she said, “is far from over”

“Together, we will continue to stand against any attempts to undermine our democratic processes and the integrity of our Bar Association. Our collective voice is powerful, and we will use it to demand proper elections are conducted that respect the will of all members.”

She encouraged her supporters to remain united and vigilant.

“We have the strength and resolve to overcome these challenges and to ensure that our association reflects the values we all believe in. I am proud to stand with you in this fight and I am confident that, together, we will prevail,’’ said Serry-Kamal.

In a related development, Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah Esq challenged the judiciary of Sierra Leone over the event on Saturday at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sierra Leone Bar Association in Kenema.

Marrah said he was prompted to write an open letter to the Judiciary of Sierra Leone because it’s the lever of government entrusted with the fundamental responsibility to administer justice, according to the prescriptions of law.

He reminded the judiciary about its chequered history, citing the indictment of the same, not least the indictment by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that it abdicated its sacred duty of upholding the rule of law which engendered “institutional collapse [reducing] the vast majority of people to a state of deprivation”

Marrah believes antecedents recorded in the TRC reports have re-emerged at the minimum in the last ten years.

He added that the judiciary appears to be impervious to the wishes of the people of Sierra Leone for justice, freedom and for democracy.

“I cannot put what transpired yesterday during the AGM of the Sierra Leone Bar Association beyond the judiciary. The judiciary enhanced the undemocratic theatrics which occurred yesterday in Kenema. Legal practitioners approached the court after failing to get an audience from the leadership of the Sierra Leone Bar Association for over a month. The judiciary did not grant any of the several prayers for a fair and democratic process to be adhered to If lawyers who are licensed to approach the courts for justice on behalf of their clients cannot obtain justice for a free, fair, and democratic conduct of their elections, what then is the fate of the masses?’’ Marrah asked, saying “Your lordships and worships, you must not turn the other way when acts of injustice and political expression and legitimate dissent are being crushed in the nation.’’

Marrah summarized the courts must not continue business as usual.

He furthered the judiciary must be an active player in the making of democracy.

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