Monday, January 26, 2015

Scramble for Bar Presidency: Constitutional Council is Prime Suspect

 By Fai Cassian
Barrister Sama Francis

Worries as to whether the ruckus that reigns supreme within the ranks of Common Law Lawyers (Anglophones) ahead of the elective General Assembly could be put to rest before January 31, looms large. This is so because of the huge scramble for the position of the Bar Council Presidency and the dichotomy that has disfranchised the quest for positions. Ahead of the 2012 Bar Council Elections in Bamenda, Barrister Ntumfor Nico Halle staged a reconciliation move that reunited the Common Law Lawyers. Ex-Batonnier Akere Muna was in Bamenda at weekend for a similar exercise to ensure that as Common Law lawyers (Anglophones) should have a certain interest to protect that has to do with the nature their practice. The idea was to put in place a common front ahead of the elections billed for January 31 in Yaounde. It has been tradition that the Common Law Lawyers present only one candidate to the position of Bar Council President during elections. Former Batonnier Luke Sendze told journalists that they tried during the meeting to cure some of the misunderstanding and that incumbent Bar President Sama Francis Asanga was advised to try and patch up some of the misunderstandings which are not really major. Barrister Sama Francis, incumbent Bar Council President was endorsed as declared by the ex-Batonniers. Barrister Stanislaus Ajong, President of Fako Lawyers who was also endorsed as candidate for the Vice Presidency of the General Assembly said where there is conflict the opinion of seniors count. Implicitly, the Bamenda conclave must have ensured that there is only one candidate from the common law practice. But since elections are what they are, some candidates have continued to operate in diverse ranks. There is so much politics involved.   
Me Tchakoute
Uncertainty however looms large as members of the caucus known as New Generation continue to campaign for their candidates. With three (3) or so, number of candidates from the Northwest, opinion on who is who for the upcoming elections remains diversified. The New Generation allegedly is working in close collaboration with Me J Ngnie Kamga, who is candidate for the Presidency of the Bar.  
On the other hand, North West lawyers are faced with the dynamics of the North West New Generation of lawyers. The New Generation has been campaigning with La Renaissance plant their ideology in the minds of voters so as to win more votes. The situation is however complicated with independent candidates like Barrister Ben Suh, one of the most popular candidates in North West Region. Ben Suh’s manifesto ties with Maitre Tchakoute Patie Charles’ who is also running for the Bar Council Presidency. With the cacophony and failure for common grounds after the Bamenda primaries, Common Law Lawyers may likely split their votes giving room for someone else to pick the prestigious crown from the gutter. Notwithstanding, others still see the approach of diversity as a common strategy for more Common Law Lawyers to be elected into the Bar Council.
A total of 60 candidates have declared their candidatures into the Bar Council. Of the 60 candidates, the first 15 candidates with the highest number of votes will automatically move into the Bar Council. During the voting proper, each advocate is expected to choose 15 of the 60 ballots. This is the tradition with the Bar Council Elections. But a new strategy has developed whereby candidates vying to enter the Bar Council have also ahead of time declared their candidatures for the Bar Presidency. Analysts say this is abnormal. Many have been wondering why the scramble for the position of Bar Council President given that it is not a paid job. Could it be that those who have declared their candidatures for Bar Council President are 100% sure to be voted into the Bar Council?

Why the Scramble for the Post of Bar President   
Barrister Ngnie Kamga
The Cameroon Bar Council Association has two distinctive positions. The President of the General Assembly oversees the policy of the Bar while the Bar Council President oversees the day to day activities. Traditionally, when a Common Law Lawyer is elected as President of the General Assembly, a Francophone lawyer will automatically be imposed as President of the Bar Council, and vice-versa. But this is not our interest. Our interest is that this year’s elections have proven to be different. Allegedly, over five candidates have declared for the Bar Council President and six candidates from the Northwest Region alone want to enter the Bar Council.
Critics say this scramble is linked to the putting in place of the Constitutional Council, which in fact requires a lot of positioning. It is even alleged that the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Bar will be appointed into as members of the Constitutional Council. This has ignited a mad rush for positioning like never witnessed before. The lesson of the North West Fons Union-NOWEFU continues to inspire others that positioning in high places could lead to appointments into other high places. Allegedly, advocates in Douala have pushed another prominent Anglophone lawyer to table his candidature for the President of the General Assembly. Another outspoken advocate, Barrister Bobga has not made any proclamations but secondary thoughts holds that he is likely one of the best the Common Lawyer Lawyers could vote for the position of President of the General Assembly given his astuteness in handling burning issues. Yet he has been mute. This is however complicated given that candidates for that position only declare their intentions in the hall not like those vying to enter into the Bar. The fear steams from the fact that the position of President of the General Assembly is voted first. Will the common practice be violated if an Anglophone or Francophone is voted? These are some of the so many questions that are currently begging for answers.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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