“We Must First Protect Gov’ts Interest Before Thinking On Party Lines”

Tilarious Atia, Ph.D, Political Scientist.

What interpretation do you make of the proposed extension of the mandate of Members of the National Assembly?
Elections provide a mandate to pursue a set of policies. The extension of the mandate of members of the National Assembly should be a welcomed turn of events for the current set of MPs. In 2025, the terms of office of the President of the Republic, Members of the National Assembly, Regional Councillors and Municipal Councillors will expire. It would have been very costly for the State to organise four elections in one year. Given the financial difficulties facing the world in general and Cameroon in particular, it’s important for the government to spend wisely. Since there’s no provision for the extension of the term of office of the President of the Republic and Regional Councillors, the government benefits from the Constitution and the Electoral Code which provides for the extension of the mandates of Members of the National Assembly and Municipal Councillors.
I think this extension offers the opposition time to prepare. I have a very simple view about the political process in this country and the extension of the mandates of MPs and hopefully of Municipal Councillors. And that view is that elections are opportunities for opposing political forces to lay their plans in detail before the Cameroonian people and when the Cameroonian people have made a decision, it is the obligation of the victor in that political contest to implement the plans laid before the Cameroonian people. There is nothing complicated about it. While those in office should use the extension to gain the trust and confidence of the Cameroonian people, the opposition should be working on a good policy that will earn them votes during the 2026 twin polls.

Reflections are on course for a possible extension of the term of office of municipal councillors as well. Will this have a significant impact on the political life of the country?
To avoid the 2002 scenario where the twin elections were postponed at the 11th hour for inadequate preparations, it is a wise move to extend the mandates of members of the National Assembly and Municipal Councillors and have the twin elections in 2026. That way, we are sure to have smooth elections in 2025 and subsequently in 2026 organised by the independent elections management body, ELECAM.
Also, the opposition should use the extension to educate the masses sufficiently. A summary of survey findings in my PhD thesis suggests that most Cameroonians are not informed, not interested, and show a very low level of knowledge of personalities, institutions, issues or policies at the local council level. Few voters even know the names of their councillors, or the candidates they voted in the municipal elections list in 2020. Many do not distinguish between State and local politics, and many of the voters have no idea of the policies of the party they supported, or of the issues at the election. I think local politicians need to use this extension period to educate the electorate and hope for better participation.

Where do you draw the line between government's argument of the material a...



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