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MPs Encourage Youth Involvement In Environmental Protection 

By Yerima Kini Nsom — The Parliamentary Network for Sustainable Management of Ecosystems and Dense Forests of Central Africa (REPAR) has encouraged African youth associations to remain steadfast in their fight against climate change and promote environmental protection.

The youth associations; Reseau Africian AIDE-21, Global Dynamic Youth and others, were received July 3 at a ceremony at the National Assembly which was presided at by the 1st Vice President of the House, Hillarion Etong, who represented the Speaker, Cavaye Yeguie Djibril.

The meeting, which took place shortly after the General Assembly of REPAR, was the first of its kind – an occasion for the African youth to present their ideas and views on environmental issues related to Rio+20.

While the youth presented their declarations and proposals for a green future, some members of the parliamentary network presented some of the efforts of REPAR towards the promotion of environmental protection. The organisation’s action plan for 2012-2013 was equally presented.

The Vice President, in his welcome speech, said climate change concerns everyone and the youth, in particular, are expected to be major actors in the battle. He cautioned the youth against going into the battle with too much excitement and naivety, but rather, to focus on the main objective which, to him, is the protection of natural resources.

Meanwhile, the youth were allowed to visit the various sections of the National Assembly under the supervision of Hon. Emmanuel Bamni and Gaston Komba – a gesture which the MPs said contributes to instilling citizenship in the youth.

The two MPs, under the watchful eyes of the Secretary General at the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education, had a question and answer session with the youth. Apart from environmental issues, most of the youth sought to know how much the MPs earn, what they do with the micro project grants and how laws and the budget are being voted and adopted. Others raised concerns on the educational system of the country, the functioning of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Human Rights, health, gender and the economy.

Some of the youth from AIDE-21 sought to know why the legislature in Cameroon seems to be largely dependent on the executive and, also, why the President of the Republic always has the final say on bills which have been voted in Parliament.

Hon. Bamni and Komba took time to explain the various steps involved in the voting of bills and laws. Hon. Bamni pointed out that, though the President is expected to promulgate bills before they are implemented, he has no right to reject a bill which has been voted and adopted. He said the President can only modify a bill and send it back to Parliament for review.

“All bills are subject to modification, even those tabled by the Government,” Bamni said, adding the example of the controversial electoral code which he said was scrutinised and modified by the MPs before adoption. Most of the youth who came from different parts of Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic and Gabon expressed satisfaction at the end of the meeting.

Despite the efforts of the MPs to provide the best possible answers to the questions of the youth, those who raised issues on Human Rights, however, expressed dissatisfaction and still left with the opinion that there is still a lot to be done as regards the promotion of human rights in Cameroon.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01357

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