As He Asserts Vote Was Fair… Francis Ben Kaifala Defends Role in Bar Association Election Amid Accusations of Bias

Francis Ben Kaifala, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner of Sierra Leone.jpg

By Alvin Lansana Kargbo

In a compelling interview on Radio Democracy, FM 98.1, Francis Ben Kaifala, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner of Sierra Leone, addressed the controversies surrounding the recent Sierra Leone Bar Association elections. His discussion shed significant light on the events that transpired during the elections, his role as ACC Commissioner and his unwavering commitment to protecting the democratic rights of members of the Bar Association.

The Sierra Leone Bar Association elections, a pivotal event for the legal community, faced unprecedented challenges this year. The ACC boss, who played a central role in overseeing the election process, spoke candidly about the attempts to hijack the legitimate election and the measures taken to ensure its integrity. He began by outlining the election procedures, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the established rules and protocols.

He described how he proposed changes to the agenda to prioritize the election over other matters, a decision that was subsequently agreed upon by the Bar membership through a vote. He explained that this move was crucial to maintain order and ensure that the election proceeded smoothly and without undue delay. “The members voted in agreement with my proposal, demonstrating the collective will to follow proper procedures,” he stated.

Responding to criticisms and allegations of conflicts of interest, the ACC boss was forthright in his defense. Critics had questioned his impartiality, suggesting that his political affiliations might compromise the election’s integrity. He dismissed those claims, asserting that his involvement was strictly in his capacity as a Bar member and not influenced by any political considerations.

“Political affiliations should not disqualify individuals from participating in democratic processes,” he argued, emphasizing the need for moral fortitude and character in conducting the election.

He also elaborated on the logistical challenges faced on election day, including the difficulties in verifying members before voting and dealing with disruptions by certain individuals. Despite these hurdles, he maintained that the election process was conducted transparently and with integrity. “The integrity of the election process was upheld and the results were transparently conducted,” he assured listeners.

Concluding, Francis Ben Kaifala, acknowledged the deep-seated problems within the Sierra Leone Bar Association, which have been exacerbated by the election controversies. He called for unity and reconciliation among all parties involved, urging them to move forward constructively for the betterment of the legal profession in Sierra Leone. “We must come together to address our issues and work towards a stronger, more unified Bar Association. Only through unity can we uphold the principles of justice and the rule of law that we all stand for,” he concluded.

In another separate interview by the Voice of America (VOA)  conducted on the 20 May 2024 by James Butty,  Francis Ben Kaifala,  denied allegations that he hijacked  the Sierra Leone Bar Association leadership election in favor of a candidate friendly to the Government.

Questioned on an allegation made by a rival contender and losing candidate, Wara Serry-Kamal, that the election was stolen with his help as he presided over the process, Francis Ben Kaifala reacted by informing VOA’s James Butty, how as member of the Association for 17 years, he had every right to supervise the election further asserting that even though the process experienced some challenges, it was free and fair.

The interviews with Commissioner Ben Kaifala on Radio Democracy and VOA not only provided a detailed account of the recent Bar Association election but also highlighted broader issues within Sierra Leone’s legal community. The controversies surrounding the election have brought to light significant concerns about the transparency and fairness of institutional processes within the legal profession.

Francis Ben Kaifala’s defense and explanation of the election procedures aim to restore confidence among Bar members and the public in the integrity of the Bar Association.

Public and professional reactions to Kaifala’s interviews have been mixed and while some commend his efforts to protect the democratic rights of Bar members and ensure a fair election, others remain skeptical, questioning the motivations behind his actions. The debate highlights the ongoing challenges in achieving a fully transparent and accountable legal system in Sierra Leone.

Looking ahead, the Sierra Leone Bar Association faces the critical task of addressing internal divisions and rebuilding trust among its members. The recent election controversies and the robust defense put forth by the ACC boss underscore the need for continuous reform and vigilance against attempts to undermine democratic processes. Unity and collective effort will be essential in moving the Bar Association forward and strengthening the legal profession’s role in upholding justice and the rule of law in Sierra Leone.



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