The Senate is the last of the democratic institutions that saw the light of day in 2013, to the disbelief of many pessimists.
The 1996 Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon is unambiguous in spelling out different democratic institutions of the State. These institutions, notably the Parliament (National Assembly and the Senate), Supreme Court, Constitutional Council, Economic and Social Council, Regional and Local Authorities, the Impeachment Court, amongst others, are written in bold in the highest law of the land. Article 67 of the Constitution of Cameroon clearly states that “the new institutions of the Republic provided for under this Constitution should be set up progressively.”
Even though all of these institutions are not yet operational, their putting in place has so far been progressive under the New Deal government of President Paul Biya. When the Head of State announced in 2011 during the 3rd Extraordinary Congress of the Cameroon People Democratic Movement (CPDM) in Yaounde, the putting in place of the Senate to complete the bicameral nature of Cameroon’s Parliament, sceptics were quick to dismiss it as mere politicking. Being a man of his words, it came to pass with the first senatorial election organised on April 14, 2013 and the Senate was born as prescribed by the Constitution.
President Biya also made mention during the congress that laws on the organisation and functioning of the Accounts Chamber and the Constitutional Council were adopted within the framework of the putting in place of the institutions envisaged by the Constitution. For now, the Supreme Court is sitting in lieu of the Constitutional Council.
As far as Regional and Local Authorities are concerned, the groundwork has already been laid with the implementation of decentralisation. President Biya stated at the 2011 CPDM Congress that not long from then, the decentralised collectivities will be given new responsibilities in order for Cameroonians to better participate directly in the management of public affairs.
The putting in place of an independent electoral body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) to manage, supervise and organise elections and the restructuring of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, added impetus to President Biya’s drive for a democratic Cameroon with the rule of law and the involvement of the civil society in the electoral process. As the Head of State noted, the putting in place of republican institutions is progressive and their reinforcement conforms to the fundamental option of democratisation.
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