Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 January 2016
Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara – the man brought in by president Koroma in his sweeping cabinet reshuffle to bring in the New Year and help keep the president on the straight and narrow legally, has had his day of baptism at State House.
According to report from State House Communications Unit, the newly appointed attorney general and minister of justice – Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, was sworn in by president Koroma and took his oath of office, at a ceremony held in State House on Tuesday, 5 January 2016.
Until his appointment as attorney general a few weeks ago, Joseph Kamara was head of the country’s Anti-corruption Commission (ACC), a job many say he could have shown more mettle by bringing to justice, those regarded as political sacred cows.
He replaces the sacked justice minister – Frank kargbo, whose future is yet to be determined by president Koroma.
There are rumours Kargbo may take up a key role in the APC party executive, to help steer the party’s convention this year and pave the way for president Koroma to continue as the Chairman of the party after leaving office in 2017.
Frank Kargbo (Photo) may also be appointed to fill one of the other vacancies still open in the cabinet, though this is less likely, given the circumstances of his dismissal at the justice ministry.
Much is now expected of the new attorney general and minister of justice. But will Joseph Kamara live up to expectations?
At the swearing in ceremony, president Koroma reminded Joseph Kamara of his professional experience as a Judge, and said that with Kamara’s performance at the ACC, he was optimistic he would live up to the expectations of Sierra Leoneans.
According to State House report; accepting his appointment, Joseph Kamara thanked President Koroma for the confidence reposed in him, and made a firm commitment to live up to expectations in discharging his duties as attorney general and minister of justice.
He also assured the people of Sierra Leone, the dispensation of justice for all.
So what will Joseph Kamara find in his in-tray when he arrives in his new office this morning?
First he will need to grapple with the president’s decision to refuse presidential assent for the private member’s Abortion Bill, that was recently passed by parliament to legalise abortion in certain circumstances.
But the relaxation of abortion laws in Sierra Leone was not on the Koroma government’s law reform agenda. Hence the president is finding it difficult to cross the paths of religious groups that are against abortion.
President Koroma’s decision to send the Bill back to parliament will prove very unpopular for parliamentarians, whose continuous support he is going to need to see his way through the rest of his time in office. To rock the boat now, will only serve as a fly in the ointment.
Joseph Kamara may therefore need to use his strong legal background and experience to help soften the Bill to get it through parliament a second time, with major amendments in order to keep both parliament and religious groups happy. He will be walking a tightrope.
Another hot issue staring at Joseph Kamara in his new office, is the question of what to do with the Alie Kabba versus local government minister Diana Konomanyi case, that has become heavily politicised and polarised. (Photo: Diana and president Koroma).
The fact is that this is a bogus criminal case brought by the State against Alie Kabba for alleged bigamy, to score political points.
What can Joseph Kamara do?
Given the heightened public discussion of the case and its politicisation by both government and the opposition, Joseph Kamara may be wise to advice that the principle of nolle prosequi (no case to answer) be applied.
This will quite rightly allow sanity to return to the country, as well as give the president the mental space to get on with the task of rebuilding the country, post-Ebola.
Right now, the president is being distracted by choosing to fight a futile and destructive battle he does NOT need. (Photo: Mr and Mrs Joseph Kamara and president Koroma).
But whatever choices and decisions Joseph Kamara makes today and in the coming weeks, will come to define the rest of his time in his new job as attorney general and justice minister. And perhaps, may even shape his presidential ambition.