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5 Political Events to Watch in 2012 

By Ze Ekanga

The New Year is here with its opportunities and challenges. After an event-studded 2011 that left some enthused and others disappointed, it is time to look ahead at some of the political events that will shape public life in Cameroon in the course of 2012.

Twin Legislative and Municipal Elections

Politics will remain a dominant factor in 2012 with twin elections envisaged to vote a new parliament as well as municipal councilors across the country.   The organization of polls is certain unless President Biya, the sole maker of Cameroon political calendar evokes a disruptive force majeure. If President Paul Biya adheres to constitutional deadlines, parliamentary and legislative elections should be organized in July 2012.

While a determined ruling CPDM will be battling to maintain a ‘comfortable majority’ in parliament and further extend its vast municipal representation in a bid to assert President Biya’s stronghold on power, opposition political parties will engage a tussle to re-gain lost political ground. With voter registration underway already, it could be expected that the frenzy will hit fever pitch during the first quarter of the year. By the second quarter, major political parties in the country will be organizing primaries to invest candidates in the various constituencies. In the ruling CPDM camp, reorganization of basic organs in sections across the country is likely to take place before the July polls.

Commemoration of Reunification Jubilee on October 1 in Buea

Another major event with far-reaching political impact will be the organization of festivities to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of British Southern Cameroons with French La Republique du Cameroun to form the present day entity called Republic of Cameroon. In an announcement made during his traditional end of year speech, President Biya said the commemoration will hold in Buea “as soon as possible”. Buea was the political headquarters of British Southern Cameroons.

Although the union clocked 50 last 1 October, the holding of presidential polls during the same month hampered the holding of commemorative activities, President Biya justified in his speech. As can be expected, the fete will spark an intense debate on the necessity and value of a union which many commentators have described as unfruitful for the mostly marginalized Anglophone segment of the population.

Setting-up of Special Criminal Court and Re-Launch of Operation Sparrow Hawk

Following the elaboration and adoption of a new law creating a special criminal court to track economic crime, public expectation is high about the effective structuring of the court and appointment of staff to enable the institution to go operational. However, the timing of such a politically significant enterprise depends entirely on President Paul Biya.

In his end of year speech, the president made no specific mention of a specific timeframe on operatinalizing the body. So this remains a speculative proposal. If the court goes operational in the course of 2012, it is likely to initiate investigations and engage another phase of the anti-graft campaign dubbed Operation Sparrow-Hawk. Key arrests could be expected.

Establishment of Senate and Constitutional Council

Again, chances that the establishment of these Constitutional organs will happen in 2012 depend entirely on President Paul Biya’s discretion. His sporadic vague comments on the matter in the past have left Cameroonians guessing about the specific year the Senate and Constitutional Council provided for in the 1996 Constitution will be put in place effectively.

If 2012 is President Biya’s choice to set-up the Senate, then the legislative election in July will likely be an opportunity to elect 70 of the 100 senators to sit in the upper House of Parliament. Otherwise, separate regional elections could be organized to vote regional councilors who shall in turn elect the 70 senators, seven from each region.

In either scenario, the remaining 30 senators will be appointed by President Paul Biya as stipulated by the Constitution. At the moment, the role of the bi-cameral Parliament is solely played by the National Assembly constituting 180 members proportionally representing constituencies across the country. The Supreme Court currently plays the role of the Constitutional Council.

Biya Clocks 30 Years in Power

In the days leading to 6 November 2012, the usual celebration within the ranks of the ruling CPDM shall be organized to fete President Paul Biya’s 30 years in power. Motions of support will certainly be fired by party diehards calling on the strongman to stay on while popular scorn and emotions will predictably run high in the large majority of Cameroonians who impatiently look forward to the day the President will step down and let Cameroon have a new lease of life with more promising leadership.

Though the public commemoration of President Biya’s anniversaries have previously been a strict CPDM-public media affair, this 30th anniversary is likely to incite more deep-rooted disapproval from the suffering masses. It will most certainly be a moment to watch.

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