Many people have been full of praise for His Excellency President Bio for showing to the nation that he means what he says in his sacking of his tribesman, Charles Francis Margai as the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
President Bio had promised to run a disciplined administration, implying that he would not spare any of his appointees that he perceives as not working according to the dictates, delivering effectively on the ‘New Direction’ manifesto in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies.He made this categorically clear when he addressed permanent secretaries, ministers and their deputies at State House after their confirmation by Parliament.
What is more remarkable is that he President Bio chose as Charles Margai’s replacement, not with a male South-Easterner but a very distinguished female Northerner, Dr Priscilla Schwartz whose maiden surname is Fofana. The appointment also appeased women’s groups and activists who had been advocating for equity.
The memo from State House announcing her appointment is a terse one-liner that curiously did not say Charles Margai had been relieved of the position but only said Dr Schwartz is the new Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Since the country’s return to democracy in 1996, this is the second time Charles Margai has been appointed and sacked as a cabinet minister. In the President Kabbah led SLPP Government, Charles Margai was appointed Internal Affairs minister and later fired for undisclosed reasons .
President Koroma offered him a job in 2007 and after his Peoples Movement for Democratic Change Party helped the All Peoples Congress regained power but however turned it down and eventually became an arch critic of the Koroma regime.
This time too, he sided with the SLPP in the crucial 2018 presidential election and was subsequently appointed as Attorney General and Minister of Justice - the shortest lived in the country’s history.
Naturally, speculation is rampant over what caused Charles Margai’s fall from grace and favour so soon. Many people are of the opinion that given Charles
Margai’s imperious nature, he was in the powerful position that he was driven carried away.
Conversely, it is rumoured that because of the power of his office, Charles Margai made threatening remarks against people that he felt were antagonistic to him, especially within the judiciary. Others said, Charles Margai’s fall from grace and favour cannot be unconnected with his refusal to toe the ‘New Direction’ line but instead chose to be his own boss.
It could be recalled that, the Minister of Lands, Dr Dennis Sandy would have been the first Presidential appointee to face President Bio’s sledge hammer when he publicly issued out Ministerial Order 1 extending the national cleaning exercise against the President Executive Order.
Though, he narrowly escaped it after several mitigations, he was strongly disciplined to an extent that many believed his appointment had been cancelled given the fact that his name was not on the list of appointees interviewed by the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment on several occasions.