8 February 2018

Cameroon: Councillors to Elect Senators in March

Photo: Mbom Sixtus/IRIN
Anglophone activist Mancho Bibixy.

The second experience to have another set of senators in parliament will take place on 25 March, 2018.

There will now be some clarity about the electoral activities in the country following the Presidential decree signed yesterday 7 February, 2018 announcing that the Senate will be renewed on 25 March, 2018. Simply put, the information came as confirmation of a regular electoral calendar that was expected in the country as far as Senatorial elections are concerned. The first experience in Cameroon with the putting in place of a Senate as required by the 1996 Constitution was on 14 April, 2013. Of the 100 members in the Upper House who have five-year tenure, 70 per cent are voted by an electoral college comprising local government councillors and 30 per cent nominated by the President of the Republic. Each region is thus supposed to have seven senators whom are indirectly elected and three appointed by the Head of State. Campaigns for the election of Senators may not demand the same energy and massive mobilisation like the case with the election members of the National Assembly. However, the fact remains that the local councillors on whom the responsibility to elect Senators fall will now need to start getting set to cast their votes and allow either fresh names or bring back those who convinced during this term by delivery on the much-cherished development challenges that the people want to see. Now that the ball has been set rolling, it signals many more things to come. President Paul Biya gave the indication on 31 December, 2017 during his state of the Nation's address to Cameroonians when he said; "The year 2018 will be an important election year. All necessary measures will be taken to ensure that elections are held in peace and security." The statement by the Head of State appear laconic but it carried all the trappings of a Presidential promise. In short, other elections may certainly have to be expected during the year. Tapping from the last experience in 2013 the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, CPDM and the opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF got elected seats in the Senate and as part of his desire to ensure a large representation in Parliament, the Head of State did not limit the appointment of Senators to the CPDM alone. Consequently, political parties like the Republican Democratic Movement, MDR saw its President Dakolle Daissala and the National Union for Democratic Party, NUDP of Bello Bouba Maigari saw its Secretary General, Pierre Flambeau Ngayap in the Senate. Another fascinating outcome of the configuration in the Senate was that the SDF for the first time won seats in the Adamawa Region and the West Region that had long returned to the CPDM following various elections again found majority Senators in the SDF given the disqualification of CPDM lists in the two regions. Such an interesting mix in the Senate is clear pointing to the fact that the upcoming election of Senators next month might not be a walk over. Political parties that have local councillors will still have to work hard if they want to have any place in the Senate. This is more so because the local councils also witnessed elections in 2013 thereby creating another opening for new Councillors which means the electoral college is likely not the same as in the last Senatorial elections.

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