Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara has been appointed the new head of Sierra Leone’s Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) following the resignation of Abdul Tejan-Cole in May. While Tejan-Cole’s departure was shrouded in speculation surrounding undertones of government interference, advocates hope that the appointment of a new commissioner will bring credibility and legitimacy to the ACC. Kamara, who has held senior public positions, acting as the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association and the Deputy Prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, has subsequently developed a reputation as a legal luminary and many hope that his public stature will fill the vacuum that Tejan-Cole left behind.
However, satisfying the anti-corruption agenda will not be an easy task. Though significant strides with ventures like Anti-Corruption Act 2008 and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy were taken under the management Tejan-Cole, his departure clearly reflected the difficulties the ACC faces. The strength and leverage of Kamara’s appointment will undoubtedly be measured by the degree of perceived independence, investigative and prosecutorial freedom that the ACC is able to enact.
Critics fear that Kamara’s appointment is merely a form of propagation of “northernisation” by President Ernest Bai Koroma and there are reservations that the ACC may experience reversions back to the politicisation and marginalisation that appeared to plague Tejan-Cole towards the end of his tenure. For the most part Kamara’s appointment appears to be positively met but only time will tell if he will be able to effectively fulfil the aspirations of millions of Sierra Leoneans and lead the battle against corruption or if he will flounder under the weight of such expectation.