Regional Election In NW, SW:
Bridge To Special Status Era
Story, Kah Patience with additional reports
The pioneer regional election in Cameroon billed for December 6 this year have a peculiar impact expected for the entire country but most specifically and historically, for the crisis-hit North West and South West regions.
Campaigns for the exercise are expected to begin under three days from now. In the English-speaking region, the December 6 exercise is the one bridge which is expected to usher in the reality of the Special Status.
It is going to be an election to usher in a new dawn in the political and development life of these two regions. It is the election that is expected to set in motion the special status granted them at the 2019 historic major national dialogue.
While eight other regions will simply have regional councils, the North West and South West will have but regional assemblies that is house of divisional representatives and House of Chiefs. These two regional assemblies will exert more power influence over the economic and social development of the North West and South West regions.
The five pillars of the special status shall be focused on revitalizing the Anglo-Saxon system of education, prioritising the common law system, setting up of regional development authorities, revamping of local economy and managing classification of Chiefdoms. It is within this prism that the wheel of the special status shall turn.
Special Status Content Reviewed
The dust will soon settle over recurrent debates on the content of the Special Status granted to the North West and South West regions. This will certainly be after the regional bodies go operational.
The topic has animated the public scene since the Special Status for these English-speaking regions was first raised at the Major National Dialogue last year.
Delegates emerged from that gathering endorsing the Special Status as a positive step to give more powers to the local population alongside sustaining the peculiar Anglo-Saxon heritage of the English-speaking population within a bilingual, bi-jural and indivisible Cameroon.
Many are unaware of the form the Special Status will take. Yet, there has been so much noise about the political action derived from national reasoning at the historic Major National Dialogue.
Some were quick to mistake the law on regional and local authorities to mean the law on Special Status for the North West and South West regions.
The law articulated a new vision of President Paul Biya for effective decentralisation, in fulfillment of the 1996 constitution that made Cameroon a “decentralised unitary state”.
The law on Regional and Local Authorities expanded and expounded on the mission of regional and local authorities, especially following the creation of the Senate in 2013. It also spelled out the content of the Special Status in Book Four Part V from sections 327 to 370.
The Special Status is mentioned at the introductory phase that is, stating how despite Cameroon being a decentralised unitary state, the North West and South West regions will have some extra considerations owing to their language and historical background.
Section 3 in sub(1) of Law 2019/024 of 24 December 2019 states that: “The North West and South West regions shall have a Special Status based on their language specificity and historical heritage”.
Sub two(2) further states that: “The Special Status referred to in sub section (1) above shall be reflected with regard to decentralisation, in specificities in organisation and functioning of these two regions.”
In this same light, subsection three (3) makes it clear that: “The Special Status shall also entail respect for the peculiarity of the Anglophone education system and consideration of the specificities of the Anglo-Saxon legal system based on Common Law”.
In subsection four (4), where every task now lies, it states that: “The content of the specificities and peculiarities referred to in subsections (2) and (3) above shall be specified in separate instruments”.
The content is elaborated in Book Four Part V of the December 24, 2019 law on the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities.
Article 62 of the Constitution backs this provision.
Therefore, it is clear that, the materialisation of the Special Status is only possible after the Regional Assemblies must have been set up.
With the convening of the regional election therefore, it is now clear that the content of the Special Status will be operationalised and fully implemented.
The question on special consideration is articulated in the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon. Article 62 (2) expressly states that: “Without prejudice to the provisions of this Part, the law may take into consideration the specificities of certain regions with regard to their organisation and functioning.”
According to section 327(1) on the general code of Regional and Local Authorities; “The North West and South West regions shall have a special status in accordance with the provisions of article 62 of the constitution.” Section 328 (2) states that “The Special Status referred to in Sub-section(1) above shall confer on the North West and South West regions, a specific organizational and operational regime based on the historical, social and cultural values of these regions with due respect for the primacy of the State and national unity and solidarity.”
Section 328 further articulates that: “In addition to powers devolved on regions by this law, the North West and South West Regions shall exercise the following powers; participating in the formulation of national public policies relating to the Anglophone education sub-system; setting up and managing regional development authorities; participating in defining the status of traditional chiefdoms.”
In sub (2); “The North West and South West Regions may be consulted on issues relating to the formulation of justice public policies in the Common Law system.”
Sub (3) outlines that: “They may be involved in the management of public services established in their respective territories.”
On the organs of the North West and South West regions, sections 329 and 330 state that these regions: “Shall be administered freely by elected organs, under the conditions laid down in this law,” adding in the proceeding section that these organs shall be “the regional assembly and the regional executive council.”
Section 332 clarifies that “the regional assembly shall be composed of 90(ninety) regional councillors elected for a five-year term of office. Sub two(2) further indicates that; the regional assembly shall comprise of two houses: the House of Divisional Representatives and the House of Chiefs, respectively.