Friday, January 19, 2018

Remove AG post from party politics


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A good adviser has to be well versed but also familiar with colloquialisms; aloof but also properly in tune with the ground; interested in the well-being of those to whom the advice is given but also of those who eventually will be affected if the advice is accepted; unflinching but also attentive; and, most of all, thick-skinned but also human.

In the business of government, no adviser is as important as the attorney general. The Constitution recognises these things: it allows only attorneys general to have uninhibited access to both houses of parliament and provides that, other than the prime minister, there must be an attorney general for cabinet to be valid.

From ever since, attorneys general have been plucked from the banks of known supporters of the party that forms the government.

History advises very few have been able to shed their partisan cloak after taking the oath.

Also, the stellar attorneys general have been the ones who, before being chosen, were dedicated to improving the lot of the oppressed and downtrodden.

By their records, therefore, it is easy to determine whether attorneys in private practice engage in political or altruistic activities.

Having considered all these things and noted that a new Constitution is contemplated, I propose the following "attorney generalship" rules be embraced when the framers sit down to write:

A bar must be placed on the attorney general's continued involvement in party politics once appointed.

The person to be appointed must be first screened and approved by a multi-partisan committee established exclusively from the elected members of parliament.

In furtherance of those two recommendations, the attorney general shall not be a member of the parliament: the office shall exist on its own merit (as occurs in the United States of America).

Attorneys general be restored to having full oversight of civil and criminal spheres: from drafting of laws to prosecution.

The last mentioned proposal would entail making the office Director of Public Prosecution answerable to the office of attorney general ... a good move that would prevent such a powerful force becoming a law unto itself.

Ayodele Chieng

Petit Bourg