Election deferral bill smuggled into parliament after statutory deadline

The draft bill to initiate postponement of House of Assembly and Municipal elections statutorily due this year has finally reached the House of Assembly after it fuelled speculations and debates among Cameroonians and on the social media. Tabled to the National Assembly for deliberation and eventual enactment into law five days behind statutory deadline, the bill takes root from an earlier presidential edict to the Speakers of the Senate and House of Assembly and President of the Constitutional Council intimating them of his intention to postpone elections into the concerned bodies by one year, effective from October 29, 2018.
The decision to postpone the elections although justifiable at face value judging by the ambient insecurity in the Grand North, Northwest and Southwest Region, which has provision in the constitution, appears to be linked more to a national treasury afflicted by chronic and acute impecuniosity.
The president’s edict relies on the closeness of the three elections that evokes probable skewedness in handling them and the possibility of disenfranchising many eligible voters as well as triggering disenchantment among those who might feel slighted by a poorly handled national assignment of sovereign dimension.
Cameroon’s constitution has provision for the president of the republic to postpone elections in the country for up to 18 months in the case of elections into national assembly and municipal councils. For this to happen, he must consult the presidents of the constitutional Council, National Assembly and the Senate. This is precisely what Mr Biya has done, even as his action is ultra vires, having exceeded the deadline of Thursday, June 21 by five days. According to the constitution, this was supposed to be within 40 days of the expiry of the mandate of the beneficiaries.
However, many wary observers have begun gainsaying the president’s current posturing, predicating their assertion on the fact that the prevailing circumstances in the country also affect election into the office of the President of the republic. Why then would the president choose to postpone elections that have to do with the welfare of grassroots Cameroonians and those who would have been mandated to represent them at the national level? They read in the president’s decision, a ploy to perpetrate his unenviable regime that has brought sorrow, tears and blood to Cameroonians in the last 36 years.
The bill shall be defended by Amadou Ali, Vice Minister in charge of Relations with the Assembly, whose passage will just be a formality given the cavalier approach to the examination of bills at the CPDM dominated National Assembly.
Interestingly, there is a complicit silence being maintained by opposition parties, including those that have candidates vying for the upcoming presidential elections.The contention from the public is that those currently aspiring to be president of the republic have adjudged themselves unfit to unseat Biya and have resigned to fate, barely waiting for the elections to be done with so that they can get their campaign money. They give teeth to their assertion by evoking the fact that it is more than two weeks since Mr Biya sent the memo to concerned parties but, there has been no reaction from political parties.
However, another school of thought leans on the fact that the bill was yet to reach the Assembly where its passage into law is a fait accompli. In furtherance of this opinion is the claim that political parties ought to be given the benefit of doubt, pending when the bill shall have been passed into law for them to react.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain and it is the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Biya is out to perpetuate his stay in power and intends to die in office. At over 85, he still gets his kick from being cajoled by court jesters who deceive him that he is “infallible and invincible,” thereby imbuing him with an aura of inflated importance that makes him feel he has been elevated to deity.
By Sampson Esimala

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