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National Assembly Fire Incident: Man-made Or Natural? 

By Sylvester Atemnkeng

Yaounde authorities are yet to uncover the cause of the fire that gutted the main building of the National Assembly in Yaounde on the night of Thursday November 16.

Although Government mooted claims that it could be just an accident resulting from an electrical malfunction, observers hold that there is a possibility that it could be an arson masterminded by some officials to cover their fraudulent activities.

The Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, told CRTV on Friday, November 17 that the fire incident was an accident.

He debunked allegations on the social media that the fire incident was a criminal act by an insider.
To him, the premises of the National Assembly are heavily guarded by well trained security officers that it could not have been possible for anybody to commit any such arson.

Hear him; “Going by the evidence we have today, the fire was an accident. I would like to reassure the public that all national experts are working to assess the damage and give more details on the origin of the fire.”

The fire which broke out at about 10:00pm, raced through the upper part of the building with rage, reducing the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors to ashes.

Only the pillars and solid walls survived the inferno. Part of the third floor, especially where the office of one of the Vice Presidents, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, was located, also went up in flames.

The fire destroyed the Cabinet of the first Vice President, Hilarion Etong, Cabinet of Vice President Kombo Gberi, the office of the SDF Parliamentary Group, the Vice Secretary General No1 at the service of the Director General of Administration and office of the Director of Budget.

As the wild fire ravaged the Glass Building, Members of Parliament from the different political parties, including those of the SDF who boycotted the opening plenary of the November session, were present to have a firsthand appraisal of the incident.

Administrative authorities led by the Governor of the Centre Region, Paul Bea Naseri were also at the scene which had been secluded by the Police and Gendarmerie officers.

The National Fire Brigade contained the flames from destroying the entire building. The hemicycle, the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly and other offices in the third, second and first floors were not affected.

The fire incident occurred just three days after the start of the November session of parliament. MPs had already received five bills and some deemed admissible for examination by the Chairman’s Conference.

They were however still expecting the Finance Bill which details the Budget for the next legislative year. The Bill is usually presented by the Prime Minister and defended by each of the Cabinet Ministers before adoption.

It is the first time since independence that the National Assembly is affected by a fire incident of such magnitude. So far, huge material damages have been recorded but no human casualties. The same building was victim of a fire incident in 1995.

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