Controversy  surrounds outcome of Bar Association elections

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Tuma,Wara and Marrah

By Alhaji Haruna

Two of the three presidential candidates of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) presidency have rejected the recent election results and condemned the announcement of a new Board for the Association.

 In a public notice dated May 20, 2024, lawyers Sorie Sengbeh-Marrah and Wara Serry-Kamal stated that, they do not recognize the individuals declared as the duly elected Board by the Association’s paid-up members at the AGM in Kenema.

“Our position remains that no democratic electoral process was conducted in Kenema, and consequently, no new Board of Directors of the Sierra Leone Bar Association was elected,” the notice reads.

Meanwhile, the two candidates have invited all members of the SLBA and media representatives to a press conference today at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown.

The SLBA held its Annual General Meeting on May 18 and 19, followed by an election to choose a new president to succeed the outgoing president, Michaella Swallow.

The presidential race included candidates Lawyer Sorie Sengbeh-Marrah, Lawyer Adama Tuma Jabbie, and Lawyer Wara Serry-Kamal.

Political divisions in Sierra Leone, especially between the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC), have infiltrated various sectors, including professional associations like the SLBA.

The involvement of political parties in elections for unions, networks, NGOs, and community groups has become a concerning trend, affecting the impartiality and independence of those organizations.

The SLBA election was no exception. Two candidates, Sengbeh-Marrah and Serry-Kamal, prior to the elections raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the election process. They criticized the Inspector General of Police and the outgoing SLBA president for their perceived refusal to address security and electoral conduct issues with the candidates.

The announcement of Tuma Adama Jabbie underscores the deep political divisions within the Bar Association and justifications of allegations of the ruling SLPP influencing the election outcome which have further fueled tensions.

The practice of embedding partisan politics into pressure groups and non-partisan bodies has significant implications for the integrity and independence of such organizations in Sierra Leone.

As the situation unfolds, all eyes will be on the press conference, where the candidates are expected to reveal more details and possibly chart the next steps in addressing their grievances.

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