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Bar Elective General Assembly To Hold In November 

-Venue To Move From Buea To Douala For Security Reasons

By Joe Dinga Pefok

The Elective Ordinary General Assembly, GA, of the Cameroon Bar Association has finally been scheduled to hold next November.

The President of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, disclosed this during a telephone conversation withThe Post in Douala on Wednesday, July 11.

Ntumfor Halle disclosed that, everything being equal, he will, toward the end of next month, announcethe date, after which candidates interested in running for the different positions at the elections will submit their application files.

He, however, explained that he will not be the one to scrutinise the files, for that will be done at the level of the Secretariat of the Bar Council. The outgoing Bar GA President maintained that he will not run for re-election.

Halle who is a former member of the National Elections Observatory and a renowned international election observer, asserted that the Bar elections, which he will oversee, will be free, fair and transparent.

“Everybody knows me for transparent elections. There will be no room for any foul play or corruption,” he warned.
At the last Elective GA in Yaounde from January 30 – February 1, 2015, Barrister Nico Halle was elected GA President, while Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga emerged as President of the Bar Council. They were, in accordance with the Constitution of the Bar, elected for a two-year mandate, renewable once.

However, immediately after his landslide victory in the election to the post of GA President, Halle surprised hiscolleagues by announcing that he would serve only for one term.

Earlier Decision To Hold GA In Buea

The two-year mandate of the leadership of the GA and that of the Bar Council, was supposed to end in early February 2017, with the holding of an Elective Ordinary General Assembly. The GA President decided that the event should hold in Buea, the Southwest regional headquarters. Halle’s choice of Buea was based on the fact that the Southwest has never hosted an Elective Ordinary General Assembly of the Bar. He explained that it was fair that the Region,which has many lawyers, should have the opportunity to host the GA.

He then wrote to the President of the Bar Council, and formally informed him of the decision. In the light of the decision, Halle also asked his Representative in the Southwest Region, Barrister John Kameni, to look for an appropriate venue in Buea that would host the General Assembly. Barrister Kameni opted for Chariot Hotel, Buea. In December 2016, Halle travelled to Buea, visited the hotel with Barrister Kameni and gave his visa that Chariot Hotel was the venue.

Escalation Of Anglophone Crisis

Unfortunately, the Anglophone Crisis, which erupted in October 2016, beginning with a strike by Common Law lawyers and followed by a strike by Anglophone teachers in November, began escalating by mid-January 2017 with the arrests of leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium. The President of the Consortium, Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla, who was one of those arrested and taken to Yaounde, was also the President of the Fako Lawyers Association, FAKLA.

Then came the threats of arrest of several other vocal Common Law lawyers.The President of Northwest Lawyers Association, NOWELA, Barrister Harmony Bobga Mbuton; the President of Meme Lawyers Association, MELA, Barrister Elias Eyambe; and quite a number of other Anglophone lawyers fled from the country. In such a situation, coupled with the increasing state of insecurity in the two Anglophone Regions, it became impossible for the GA to hold at the end of January 2017 in Buea.

Due to this ‘Force Majeur’, the GA President was forced to suspend the holding of the General Assembly. He had, however,hoped that the situation would soon ameliorate to make it possible for it to hold. But the Anglophone Crisis instead kept escalating with a steady upsurge in insecurity, thus making it very risky to holdthe General Assembly in the Southwest. A large majority of lawyers showed much understanding why it was continuously delayed. Significantly, no complaint came from any Francophone lawyer.

With the escalation of the Anglophone Crisis, Ntumfor Halle, who is also a reputed peace crusader, made a number of trips to the Northwest and Southwest Regions, including to a volatile area like Mamfe, to pray for peace. His trips were appreciated by the people, including several personalities that he met on the ground in the different places.

Change Of Venue

In the face of the upsurge in the Anglophone Crisis, Nico Halle, while continuing in hispeace crusading mission by praying for peace to return to the Northwest and Southwest Regions, toldThe Post that he finally decided to move the venue of the GA from Buea, due to the continuous security concerns, to Douala. Hesaid, as someone who likes consulting with colleagues before taking a decision, he consulted his Vice President, Barrister Yves Kless Kouanou, and many other colleagues.

Halle regretted that the venue had to be moved from Buea, or the Southwest Region, but explained that he could not continue to delay the holding of the GA, especially as it is an occasion to renew the organs of the Bar. He disclosed that he has officially written to the Secretary General of the Bar Council and to the Representative of the President of the Bar Council in the Littoral Region, to officially inform them of the decision to organise the Elective Ordinary General Assembly in Douala in November.

Asked if funds are available to organise the GA, considering often complaints that many lawyers do not regularly pay their annual dues to the association, Barrister Halle simply said that he discussed the issue of funds two months ago with the Bar Council President, and he assured him that funds will be available.