Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh is due back on the bench in the next few days. And when he comes back on September fifth, he will be tying up loose ends before proceeding on retirement. It is known that Conteh had asked to remain until he had concluded the cases before him. That would have put him past September on the bench but his request was turned down. The Bar Association is at odds with the government on the issue and the collective of lawyers also requested their involvement in the selection of Contehís successor. Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that the process will not see their input. Barrow did also not wish to divulge the names of applicants nor has he said whether Justice Samuel Awich who is acting Chief Justice is being considered for appointment to the job. The Prime Minister, however, did tell News Five today that government is currently looking at three prospective candidates to succeed Conteh.
Voice of: Prime Minister Dean Barrow
ďI donít want to give out the names of those that have applied because Iíve tried to say elsewhere that only one person can be selected and those that apply and that arenít selected might feel a little hard done by. We have not said to them that we will keep their applications in confidence, but if itís at all possible thatís how I would want to handle it practically. So I donít want to give names. All I will say is that up to this point in time we have received three applications and in fact while we had originally said that the closing dateóthat the deadline for receipt of applications would be the end of this month, tomorrow, we are extending that deadline until the fifteenth of October just to be sure that we give ourselves the best possible opportunity to get the widest possible range of good applications.Ē
ďHow involved is the Bar Association in this process?Ē
Voice of Prime Minister Dean Barrow
ďNot really. You know that weíve had a public disagreement over just that issue. They wanted to be sure that we send them the names of all applicants and the CVs of all applicants for the reasons Iíve just said the whole question of confidentiality, I donít think that I want to do that and Iíve made it clear that Iím not prepared to do that. And so the way I see this thing proceeding I will look at all the applicants, all the CVs I will consult informally with knowledgeable persons who are lawyers in this country that I feel I can trust but Iím not prepared to do it formally with the Bar Association.Ē
The prime minister has been specific that a new Chief Justice will be installed by January first, 2011. Until then Justice Awich will continue to act has the highest Supreme Court Judge.