Political History 

Chronology since 1960

Selected events relate to the internal situation or international issues that have had a direct impact on the governance of the country .

January 1, 1960
Proclamation of the independence of Cameroon
Less than a year after the announcement by the United Nations (UN) the lifting of French rule , Cameroon proclaimed its independence on 1 January 1960. The following year, the southern part of Cameroon under British tutelage there will link .


September 12, 1961
Creation of the African and Malagasy Union
The creation of the African and Malagasy Union ( UAM) in 1961 , aims to develop cultural and political, economic, social cooperation between the former French colonies . The UAM is also a response to Pan-Africanism which germinates in the former British colonies.


May 26, 1963
Signature of the Charter constituting the Organization of African Unity
Representatives from 31 African countries, including many heads of state and government , meeting in Addis Abeba , Ethiopia, to proceed with the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).


November 6, 1982
Paul Biya's accession to the presidency of Cameroon
Two days after the surprise of Cameroonian President Ahmadou Ahidjo  resignation , Prime Minister Paul Biya accesses the head of state . He was replaced in office by Bello Bouba Maigari .


April 6, 1984
Attempted "coup d'etat" in Cameroon
Members of the Cameroonian presidential guard rose up against President Paul Biya to return to power of former President Ahmadou Ahidjo . The revolt , which resulted in hundreds of deaths, was crushed by the army after three days of fighting .


May 1990
Public events in Cameroon
The Cameroonian government is facing pressing demands for a democratic opening . It is in this context that it is shaken by the challenge of lawyers denounce repression prevailing in prisons.


March 1, 1992
Multiparty elections in Cameroon
Having initiated and suspended the implementation of a democratic electoral system , the Cameroonian President Paul Biya is the target of popular protests and international pressure. It reacts by holding multiparty elections in March 1992.

Governance in Cameroon is defined as “Democracy” though the extent of the political system is more akin to democracy under the guise of democratic operating principle. The Republic of Cameroon hands executive powers and control entirely to the President. Thus, authority has been concentrated around the president, His Excellency, Paul Biya since 1982. Legislative power here is exercised in theory by two chambers: a National Assembly and a Senate. The Senate has been in place since May 14th 2013.

The political powers present tribal and regional rivalries to appear as the only guarantor of peace in consolidating its position. For example, the constitution adopted by the National Assembly in 1996, was on a pretext of minority protection necessary for the fundamental law of the concepts of "indigenous" and "non-native" Cameroonians. By introducing a stratification of citizens depending on their origin and residence, it was revealed that a particular descent or person originates from the lineage of their surname. This presented a trail to find where ancestors lived during the pre-colonial period.

On the 10th of April 2008, the National Assembly passed a bill on constitutional revision, with 157 votes in favor, 5 against and 15 not voting. This adopted project was widely criticized by the political opposition parties as it allowed Paul Biya to claim a fourth term at the end of his tenure of office in 2011.  During the elections held on the 9th of October 2011, Paul Biya was re-elected through the ballot in the first round of voting with 77.99% of the vote. On December 9th 2011, there is a new government headed by Prime Minister Philemon Yang, who maintained his position. Results of the re-election maintained the president and his prime minister, Philemon Yang as the new government from December 9, 2011.

Traditional leaders on the other hand retain their powers and are consulted by the central authorities on pertinent issues in their area of jurisdiction. In addition to the modern legal codes from international legislation, legal regulation is based on customary law that allows Cameroonians to maintain their original cultures. It is not uncommon for the sons of royal dynasties of sultans or Lamibe to exercise ministerial responsibilities in Yaoundé. Cameroon is also a member of the Francophone Parliamentary Assembly.

Form of State

Cameroon is a decentralized unitary state.

Type of Government

The Republic of Cameroon practices a dual parliamentary form which is a bit streamlined. The constitution of the “Democratic Republic of Cameroon” dates back from 18th January, 1996. The government is accountable to the National Assembly (Article 11 of the Cameroonian Constitution).

The executive branch of Cameroon has the president and prime minister appointed by the president. Most of the important council appointments are also made by the president.

Official Languages

The official languages of the Republic of Cameroon are the English and French ??at equal value, a heritage of Cameroon's colonial past as both a colony of the United Kingdom and France from 1916 to 1960.  The official languages are anticipated to guarantee the “promotion of bilingualism throughout the country and protects and promote these national languages” (Article I Section 3 of the Constitution).

FRENCH

Like most other francophone African countries, Cameroon records high number of Francophone over Anglophones. Statistics show that Francophone increased from 46% in 2005 to over 60% in 2010. Even more striking, the economic capital Douala is itself increased from 98% of francophone in 2008 to 99% in 2010. This is a clear indication that French is widely spoken in Cameroon than English Language.

ENGLISH

Anglophone Cameroonians are predominant in the western sector of Cameroon. The post-colonial variant of English has been in use within this territory for a long period, and over the years has developed characteristic features, particularly in lexis but also in phonology and grammar. These characteristics were once regarded as errors, but are now increasingly accepted as distinctive Cameroonian contributions to the English language. Cameroon is home to 230 languages. These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, 2 Nilo-Saharan languages, 4 Ubangian languages, and 169 Niger - Congo languages. This latter group is divided into 1 Senegambia language (Fulfulde), 28 Adamawa languages, and 142 Benue - Congo languages (130 of which are Bantu languages).

In an attempt by the government to engender bilingualism, it has established several bilingual schools in an effort to teach both languages more effectively but in practice, few Cameroonians speak both French and English, and many speak neither. Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth and “La Francophonie’’ (French speaking counties). Most people living in Northwest and Southwest provinces speak Cameroonian Pidgin English as a lingua franca.  Fulfulde language serves the same function in the north and Ewondo is mostly spoken in the Central, Southern, and Eastern provinces.

Camfranglais (or Francanglais) is a relatively new pidgin communication form emerging in urban areas and other locations where Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians meet and interact. Popular singers have used the hybrid language and added to its popularity.

Education for the deaf and dumb in Cameroon uses American Sign Language, introduced by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster. There is little literature, radio, or television programming in native Cameroonian languages. Nevertheless, a large number of Cameroonian languages have alphabets or other writing systems, many of which were developed by the Christian missionary group International. Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) translated the Bible, Christian hymns, and other materials. The General Alphabet of Cameroon Languages was developed in the late 1970s as an orthographic system for all Cameroonian languages. Sultan Ibrahim Njoya developed the script for the Bamum language.

Executive Power

Head of State: The current president is Paul Biya mandated since 6th  November 1982. The president is elected by direct universal suffrage, equal and secret but based on a majority of the votes cast. He was elected for a seven years mandate and renewable by applying for re-election after his tenure of office. (Article 6 paragraph 2 of new constitution April 14)

Head of Government: The current Prime Minister is Philemon Yang. It is the sole responsibility of the President to appoint the Prime Minister and on request from him, the other members of the Government (Article 10) are also appointed.

Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and the by his Government. The Government implements the policies of the Nation as defined by the President of the Republic. The 1972 constitution of the Republic of Cameroon as modified by 1996 reform provides for a strong central government dominated by the executive. The president is empowered to name and dismiss cabinet members (regardless of parliamentary representation), judges, generals, provincial governors, prefects, sub-prefects, and heads of Cameroon's parastatal (about 100 state-controlled) firms, disburse expenditures, approve or veto regulations, declare states of emergency, and appropriate and spend profits of parastatal firms.

The president is not required to consult the National Assembly on decisions he deems fit in carrying out his duties. In 2008, a constitutional amendment was passed to abrogate term limits for the office of president.

The judiciary is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court may however only review the constitutionality of a law at the president's request.

All local government officials are employees of the central government's Ministry of Territorial Administration, from which local governments also get most of their budgets.

While the president, the minister of justice, and the president's judicial advisers (the Supreme Court) are ranked hierarchically from the top respectively, the judicial hierarchy, traditional rulers, courts, and councils also exercise functions of government. Traditional courts still play a major role in domestic, property, and probate law. Tribal laws and customs are honored in the formal court system when not in conflict with national law. Traditional rulers receive stipends from the national government to support their operations.

Legislative Power

Legislative power is vested in two chambers; The National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly consists of 180 members elected by direct universal suffrage and secret ballot for a term of 5 years (Article 15). The President of the National Assembly has been Mr. Djibril Cavaye Yeguie since 26 June 2001. The constitution provides Senate representation for Regional and Local authorities with each region represented by seven of the ten (10) senators who are elected by indirect universal suffrage on a regional basis. The remaining three (3) are appointed by the President of the Republic (Article 20). The Senate was created in April 2013.

The Senate

The existence of Cameroonian senate was planned under the 1996 constitutions. However, no election was held before 2013, despite the several announcements made in previous years. The Senate represents the regional and local authorities. The first senatorial elections were held on 14th April, 2013. The announcement of the election date, on April 14, caused uproar in the opposition. In fact, it occurred before the municipal elections, following the allegedly skewed victory of the CPDM (Cameroon People's Democratic Movement).

The appointment of senators takes place in two stages. An electoral college of Nine thousand eight hundred and eighty seven (9,887) councilors elect 70 senators then the President appoints the remaining 30 senators.

The senate in Cameroon represents regional and local authorities. Each of the 10 regions is represented in the Senate by 10 Senators.

-          Seven (7) elected by indirect universal suffrage on a regional basis 

-          Three  (3) appointed by the President of the Republic

The term of office for appointees is 5 years. The first president of the Cameroonian senate, Marcel niat Njifenji was officially elected in June 12, 2013.

National Assembly

The National Assembly (French: Assemblée Nationale) is the parliament of Cameroon. It has 180 members elected by a direct universal suffrage and secret ballot for 5-year term in 49 single and multi-seat constituencies (Article 15).

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

Parliamentary elections are subject to mixed direct vote.It is a relative majority in single-member districts and an absolute majority in constituencies where the list system is applied. President of the National Assembly is Cavayé Yeguié Djibril and President of Senate is Marcel Niat Njifenji

Judiciary Power

There are separate judicial and administrative courts (Articles 39 and 40). The rule of appeal is provided for in the Constitution and secured by court of first instance (General court, High Court and Courts of Appeal). The cassation appeal is reviewed by the Supreme Court in both civil and administrative matters (Article 38). Since April 1997 a presidential decree to address the offenses in military establishment and those found to be in possession of firearms or perpetrator of war has been installed. This applies in particular to the cases of banditry and organized crimes that have been trialed by military courts. These judgments could be appealed at the civil courts.
Special Court
The President of the Republic and the High Court Judge trial cases of high treason. Treasonous arts could be scenarios like members of the Government conspiring against the security of the State. The Military Court also rules on military offenses and Security Court State with exception made from the Military Tribunal.
Appointment of judges
Judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Council (Article 37 § 3).

Independence of the judiciary

Under Article 37 § 2, the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
The President is the guarantor of the independence of the judiciary (Article 37 §3).

 

Death penalty
Death penalty has not yet been officially abolished in Cameroon but death sentences are becoming increasingly rare in this country.

 

Crimes punishable by death

Offences that merit death penalty are enlisted in the following cases:

Breach of National Security Committee: Offences in this area include

  •       Participation, promotion and playing the accomplice  in Cameroonian aggression against the Republic of Cameroon.
  •       Encourage a power to engage in agressions against Cameroon.
  •       Delivering information or engaging foreign power- secrets, troops, territories, facilities or equipment against national defense.
  •       Deterioration of buildings, facilities or equipment, or creating defects to harm national defense.
  •      Attacks with nuclear facilities.

 

Assassination

  • Commit premeditated murder
  • Commit murder by poisoning
  • Facilitating or acting as an accomplice to the achievement of a crime

 

Damage to property

  • Robbery that resulted in the death of another person or serious injury (Severe damage or amputation of a limb, organ or senses)
  • Robbery with use of any means of transport within port areas
  • Flight group of at least two people in port areas

 

Review of the constitutionality
Name and composition of the Court

Under the constitutional revision of 18th January, 1996, the Constitutional Council is composed of 11 members appointed for a single term of nine (9) years. Cameroonian Constitutional Council is a member of the Association of Constitutional Courts using the French share (ACCPUF). It is expected that the Supreme Court exercises the functions of the Constitutional Council until its implementation.

Type of Control
The Constitutional Council rides on the constitutionality of laws, international treaties and agreements, as well as the internal rules of the National Assembly and the Senate, before their implementation. The Council is also responsible for deciding on conflicts of jurisdiction between state institutions, between the state and the regions, and between regions.

Terms of exercise
The Constitutional Council may be seized by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, one third of the members or one third of senators. The Presidents of regional executives may also seize the Constitutional Council where the interests of their region are involved (Article 47)

Warning
Presently, the Supreme Court exercises the functions of the Constitutional Council, which has not yet been established Practice of power.
Lack of political change
Dating  back from the implementation of the new constitution since independence, there has not been a political change. The ruling party being the majority in the assembly presented the current president of Cameroon, President Paul Biya, as the head of state since 1982 and was re-elected November 3, 2011 after the election held on the October 9.

Buying Posts
There have been many rumors about the alleged sale of ministerial positions and directions of public enterprises by the Presidency. Thus, according to the newspaper, The African Independent, Former director of taxes, Polycarpe Abah Abah, bought his position as Minister of Finance for 2 billion CFA francs. His was prosecuted of embezzlement and was trialed and placed in custody of the Central Prison Kondengui.

Prone to bond elections
Many observers of the elections in Cameroon are often unreliable. Thus, members of the NEO    (      ), the public body responsible for overseeing the elections are appointed by the president.
In 2004 press release, the Commonwealth Observer mentioned that “Based on our observations on different regions, it is necessary to note that the electoral process lacked credibility.”

According to many observers, including the Carter, John Fru Ndi who founded the opposition alleged that they would have won the presidential elections of 1992. Nevertheless, Paul Biya was declared the winner by the Supreme Court. The U.S. State Department qualified the election one of “highly defective” and “marred by serious irregularities.”

Government Ministries

The Government of Cameroon has over 30 ministries, each of which is headed by a political and presidential appointee called “minister” or “minister of state” (a more senior level). All ministries are broken down further into directorates and departments. In line with the constitution the position of minister or minister of state should be exclusive in other words they cannot be taken with any other form of employment - this also means MPs and senators cannot be ministers. Ministers, however, have access to parliament and can participate in deliberations. Within each ministry one may find a “delegated minister” (French “ministre délégué”) which is a third-ranking political appointee after minister of state and minister. The secretary-general in each ministry is the highest ranking civil servant.

The government ministries of Cameroon were defined by Decree number 2004/320 of December 8, 2004.

International organization participation

Cameroon is member of: ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, C, CEMAC, EITI (candidate country), FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO