9 December 2012

Cameroon: Additional Three Months for Members of Parliament

The Members of the National Assembly during a plenary sitting on December 7, 2012 adopted bill N° 922/PJL/AN to extend the term of office of parliamentarians by three months, taking effect from February 22, 2013, to expire on May 21, 2013.

The Vice Prime Minister, Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Relations with the Assemblies, Amadou Ali defended the bill in the plenary sitting chaired by the House Speaker, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. When the President of the Republic must have promulgated the bill into law, the term of office of the Members of the National Assembly for the ongoing eighth legislative period will end on May 21, 2013, which will also be the end of the legislative period. The Vice Prime Minister explained that if constitutional provisions are to be applied, legislative elections should hold between June 30 and September 18, 2013, thereby solving the problem of judicial void MPs posed. A suitable date, he said, shall be fixed, taking into account the level of progress with the ongoing biometric recompilation of electoral registers by Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) and the time-frame for the calling of voters to the polls, which is at least 90 days to the polling day, in conformity with Section 86 (2) of the Law of April 19, 2012 relating to the Electoral Code.

The term of office of Members of the National Assembly had earlier, following Law N° 2012/7 of 19 April 2012 been extended by six months, renewable, if need be. The extension took effect from August 21, 2012 and was to expire on February 21, 2013.

The bill debated in the House was earlier scrutinised by the Committee on Constitutional Laws, Human Rights and Freedoms, Justice, Legislation and Standing Orders and Administration. In the committee's report presented by Hon. Rose Abunaw Makia, the Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali explained that the new extension of three months was, "to organise the imminent legislative elections to enable Members of Parliament to enjoy a new legitimacy; and to grant ELECAM, at their request, an additional time-frame to complete the registration of voters on the electoral lists." Amadou Ali answering to the appeals of MPs to the Head of State to once more decree the issuing of National Identity Cards for free to enable more Cameroonians register for upcoming elections, said hundreds of thousands of the cards previously issues are still pending withdrawal. He said the preoccupation of issuing the cards for free has been raised to the President of the Republic pending his decision. Some MPs also wanted the extension of their terms of office to be by six months, reduction of voting age to 18 years, and empowering of ELECAM by revising its budget in order to improve on working conditions of staff.

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