Parliament of Cameroon

The National Assembly (French: Assemblée Nationale) is the parliament of Cameroon. It has 180 members, elected for five-year terms in 49 single and multi-seat constituencies.

Although multiparty elections have been held since 1992, the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) has always retained control of the National Assembly. The Cameroonian political system invests overwhelming power in the hands of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, and the RDPC exists essentially to support Biya and his policies. As a result, the National Assembly does little more than approve Biya's policies.

From 1992 to 1997, the RDPC relied on alliances with two smaller parties to secure a parliamentary majority. Beginning in 1997, the RDPC has won an outright majority in each election; its majorities have consistently improved as the opposition has weakened.

The National Assembly of Cameroon is run by a Bureau composed of:

  •  A Speaker
  • One (1) Senior Deputy Speaker
  •  Five (5) Deputy Speakers
  • Four (4) Questors
  • Twelve (12) Secretaries

 

Current constitution

The current constitution is that of 1972, under which the federal system was replaced by a unitary republic, but extensively modified in 1990, to allow for a return from one-party rule to a multiparty system. In 1996 the presidential term was extended from five to seven years; provision was also made for the establishment of a second legislative chamber, but this has not been implemented. The constitution was amended in early 2008 to remove the limit on presidential terms. Cameroon became a member of the Commonwealth in November 1995. Political makeup of government: The Cameroon People?s Democratic Movement (RDPC), led by President Biya, retained its overall majority of seats in the National Assembly in the 2007 elections. President Biya was last re-elected in October 2004. Shortly afterwards Ephraim Inoni became prime minister in an extensive reshuffle on 8 December. The new cabinet was dominated by the RDPC as before, and also retained members of the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) and the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC). The minister for water and energy was dismissed on 22 February 2006, after allegations of corruption. The cabinet was reshuffled on 22 September 2006, and on 7 September 2007. Inoni was dismissed as prime minister on 30 June 2009 and replaced by Philemon Yang with a reshuffled cabinet. Several items of information were provided by People in Power        

A citadel of democracy

The evolution of the parliamentary institution in Cameroon is a reflection of the country’s history. The first legislative elections took place on 22 December 1946 and on 12 January 1947 to elect 40 members into what was called at the time the Representative Assembly of Cameroon. The parliamentary institution has evolved since with the increase of its members and the passing of time.

The present Cameroon Parliament draws its legal existence from Article 14 of the 18 January 1996 Constitution. It is a bicameral house comprising the National Assembly and the Senate as provided for in the Constitution. For now, the National Assembly is playing the role of both houses, pending the setting up of the Senate.

The National Assembly ‘Glass Palace’ has 180 members elected by direct and secret universal suffrage for a five-year term of office. This present legislature which is the eighth has 25 women out of 180 members.

Mission

To represent the interests of the Cameroonian people, legislate and exercise its oversight role of the Executive. Cabinet Ministers cannot be MPs as it would impede effective exercise of the oversight role.

The business of the House is to lead by the Speaker who heads the Bureau of 23 members. Both the Speaker and the rest of the members are elected by their peers.

The National Assembly of Cameroon has nine general committees:

  • Committee on Constitutional Laws, Human Rights and Freedoms, Justice, Legislation and Standing Orders, Administration
  • Committee on Finance and Budget
  • Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Committee on National Defence and Security
  • Committee on Economic Affairs, Planning and Regional Development
  • Committee on Education, Vocational Training, and Youth
  • Committee on Cultural, Social and Family Affairs
  • Committee on Production and Trade
  • Committee on Resolutions and petitions

The business of the house is regulated by its Standing Orders. The present legislature has six political parties sitting in parliament however, only two qualify to have parliamentary groups as they have more than 15 members as provided for in our Standing Orders.

Strategic Objectives

The National Assembly of Cameroon is implementing three broad-based strategic objectives in its 2010-2014 strategic plan, namely:

  • To streamline the institutional, legal and regulatory framework of the National Assembly with  special focus on the restructuring and the organisation of parliament
  • To strengthen the operational capacity of the National Assembly
  • To develop human resources along result-based principles.

 

Promotion of Good Governance

Parliament regularly seeks to promote good governance by holding members of government accountable to the parliament via oral questions. Prior to scrutiny of the year’s budget, the Finance Committee of the National Assembly holds a working section with the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court. The National Assembly has an Executive Committee on good governance. MPs are members of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms. They sit in the National Council for Decentralisation.

Parliament has given its total support of the President of the Republic who is resolute on fighting corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

 

Parliamentary Democracy

The National Assembly of Cameroon works to maintain and enhance co-operation between parliaments and inter-parliamentary organisations to increase its impact on various areas of activities. The National Assembly is a member of the following inter-parliamentary organisations:

  • Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
  • ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly
  • Pan-African Parliament
  • CEMAC Parliament
  • Union of African Parliaments
  • French-Speaking Parliamentary Association
  • NEPAD
  • Lake Chad Basin Commission