Desmond Luke

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Desmond Edgar Fashole Luke (born 6 October 1935)[1] is a former politician and lawyer in Sierra Leone. Luke served as foreign minister (1973-75), Minister of Health (1977-78), and ambassador to the West Germany (1969-73), France (1971-73) and the European Economic Community (1971-73) at various points in his political career. Luke competed in the 1996 presidential election against several other candidates, eventually losing to current President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah after only receiving 1.1% of the vote in the initial round of voting. In March 1998, Luke was appointed to replace Samuel Beccles-Davies as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.[2] Luke retired from that position in 2002. He is an alumnus of Cambridge University and Oxford University. Luke was a strong supporter of Kabbah's government-in-exile after the 1997 coup by Johnny Paul Koroma.

Early life and education[edit]

A member of the Krio and Sherbro ethnic groups, Desmond Edgar Fashole Luke[3] was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1935 into a high-achieving family.[1] His father, Sir Emile Fashole Luke was until 1973 Speaker of the House of Representatives in Sierra Leone.[4] Desmond Luke attended the Prince of Wales Secondary School in Freetown for two years, before going to England in 1949 to continue his education at King's College, Taunton, Somerset.[1] From 1954 to 1958 he studied at Keble College, Oxford University (1954-58), earning a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1957,[4] but staying for a further year to study West African medieval history under the historian Thomas Hodgkin. Luke continued his studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge University (1959-61), earning an MA in Law.

Political career[edit]

Returning to Sierra Leone in 1962, he set up law chambers in Freetown and was in private practice until 1969,[3] when Siaka Stevens appointed him Ambassador to West Germany (accredited to all EU countries). In 1973, Luke was appointed Foreign Minister, which post he held for two years.[1] He subsequently held the post of Minister of Health for a year (1977-78), after which he left the government though remained in Parliament until 1983.[1] He later set up the National Unity Movement (NUM), to advocate constitutional reforms, and under the NUM banner contested, and lost, the 1996 elections. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1998,[5] from which position he was retired in 2002.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lans Gberie, "Desmond Luke: A Profile in Courage", The Patriotic Vanguard (Sierra Leone), 13 January 2011.
  2. ^ Lansana Fofana, "PoliticsICS-Sierra Leone: Different Forms of Justice", Inter Press Service, 2 April 1998.
  3. ^ a b "Luke, Desmond Edgar Fashole, BL, MA", in Africa Year Book and Who's Who, London: Africa Journal Limited, 1976, p. 1225.
  4. ^ a b "Luke Desmond", Munzinger.
  5. ^ Magbaily C. Fyle, Historical Dictionary of Sierra Leone, Scarecrow Press, 2006, p.111.

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