Kandeh Yumkella had this to say in a phone interview with Abdul Rashid Thomas, editor of The Sierra Leone Telegraph over the removal of the Vice President.
I fully endorse the open letter of Justice Dr. Abdulai Conteh and the additional interpretation given by Lawyer Charles Margai.
Justice Conteh was a key brain in crafting the 1991 constitution, and he has also served as both Vice President and Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the republic. So he has been on both sides of the fence.
As explained to me by other legal scholars, it is evident that the rationale behind the provisions in the constitution for the removal of the President and Vice- President from office is to protect the holders of each office from executive or legislative arbitrariness in being removed from office.
The second is that, by parity of reasoning, it is to guarantee the holders of the offices maximum due process and safeguards, prior to removal from office.
So, only parliament can “relieve” the Vice President from his elected post.
I am deeply troubled by the disruption of the meeting of the Sierra Leone Bar Association last Friday by the police. And I am calling for calm.
But at the same time, I endorse the Lawyers’ determination to defend their freedom of speech and association, which is also protected in our constitution.
The sanctity and primacy of the judicial system in a democracy, must be part of a new Sierra Leone – post 2017.
As a practitioner of and global leader in international development and international relations, I have trained myself to appreciate that in dealing with complex issues, I should always first check the facts and second, seek superior knowledge from those who are subject matter specialists.
In expressing my own personal opinion now to the Sierra Leone Telegraph – after considering the views of our legal luminaries, rather than yielding to the shouts from the gallery, I am accepting with humility that I am not a lawyer.
So when it comes to legal matters, let the legal establishment speak first, then we – the laymen/women, will follow. On serious matters such as this constitutional crisis, it is important that we avoid cheap political point scoring.
Full Interview Transcript Here
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