Biya seeks parliament’s approval to postpone National Assembly elections

President Paul Biya is seeking parliament’s approval to extend the mandate of Members of the National Assembly. A bill to that effect has been tabled at the Lower House of Parliament this Saturday, July 6, 2024 for consideration. Rumors about the extension have been making rounds since the ongoing second ordinary session of parliament for the 2024 legislative year rumbled off on Tuesday, June 11.

The leader is seeking to extend the mandate of Members of the National Assembly by 12 months when it expires on March 10, 2025. If eventually adopted as expected, the president would, by decree, extend the mandate of municipal councilors by same period in accordance with Section 170(2) of the Electoral Code. This will permit the government to organize the local elections at the same time as has been the case previously.

“Such extension is warranted by the need to lighten the electoral calendar which provides for four elections in 2025,” an explanatory note of the draft legislation reads.

Members of the National Assembly and The Senate during fourth Congress of Parliament

The said calendar provides for the election of Members of the National Assembly and Municipal Councilors, as well as the election of the President of the Republic and Regional Councilors.

Apart from the election of Regional Councilors, the three other elections, which are direct ballots, “require the deployment of substantial human, material and financial resources,” the explanatory note justifying the postponement says adding that: “It is judicious to spread the abovementioned elections over the years 2025 and 2026 so as to ensure better organization”.

What the law says

Indeed, Article 15(4) of the Constitution stipulates that: “In case of serious crisis or where circumstances so warrant, the President of the Republic may, after consultation with the President of the Constitutional Council and Bureaux of the National Assembly and the Senate, request the National Assembly to decide, by a law, to extend or abridge its term of office”.

The draft legislation tabled at the National Assembly today therefore proposes an extension of the term of office of its members from March 10, 2025 to March 30, 2026.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, the Right Hon Cavaye Yeguie Djibril informed the House during a plenary that the bill has been assigned to the Constitutional Laws Committee for scrutiny. 

The Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Relations with Parliaments, François Bolvine Wakata is expected to defend the draft legislation.

Once examined and adopted by the Committee during usual closed-door session, the bill will be presented in plenary for general debate before a final decision is taken on it as tradition holds.

If adopted by the ruling CPDM party-dominated National Assembly as expected, the draft piece of legislation will be forwarded to The Senate, the Upper House of Parliament, another ruling CPDM party-dominated legislative institution, for a second scrutiny before the President of the Republic assents to it.

Third extension in recent history

Cameroon has had a recent history of postponing mandates of local elected officials. Worthy to note that the five-year mandates of MPs and Municipal Councilors who were elected during the twin legislative and municipal elections of 2007 was extended by a one-year period, pushing the election of their successors in 2013 instead of 2012.

Similarly, in 2018, parliament swiftly adopted a bill extending the mandate of Members of the Ninth Legislative Period, who were elected during the twin legislative and municipal council elections of September 30, 2013 by 12 months.

The bill under examination at the National Assembly will thus be a third extension in the country’s recent parliamentary and municipal elections history when adopted and promulgated.

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