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New Electoral Code Hard To Come By 

By Francis Tim Mbom — Section 299 of the amended electoral code that was promulgated into law on April 19 by President Biya states that, “This law shall be registered, published according to the procedure of urgency and inserted in the official gazette in English and French.”

But since this said law, the controversies it raised, notwithstanding was signed into law on April 19, little has been done by Government to let Cameroonians have it in either of the two official languages. On April 20, the national bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune, published the French version of this law in its edition No.10079/6280. There was no English version of the law.

However, a staff of Cameroon Tribune informed this reporter that the English version of the law was published in the very next edition of the paper. But findings by some lawyers about a week back indicated that Cameroonians were yet to avail themselves with copies of this new law, despite the fact that the legislative and municipal elections are coming.

But for Hon. Ayah Paul who happened to have had the English version of the law, by dint of having been present in Parliament when this law was being scrutinised, every other contact I made told me it was difficult to come by a copy.

To Barrister Martin Essingila, he had to go into the website of the Presidency of the Republic to get the version in English. Meantime, Barrister Innocent Bonu had the French version but not the English one. I scanned through the bookshops in Limbe and found no copy.

“We don’t have any of the copies either of the old or new electoral code,” a sales woman told me at the Presbook in Limbe on June 7. I had received similar responses as at Presbook from other bookshops I contacted earlier in Limbe. I finally succeeded, after one week of hunting round the country, to get a soft copy of the English version of the new code emailed to me by my colleague, Yerima Kini Nsom, from Yaounde.

But it is unfortunate that the lot of Cameroonians, many of whom are still leaving far out of reach, out of the internet and whom this law was made for, cannot have it even as we inch closer to the organisation of an election or elections that have to be sanctioned by this law. Besides, this said law is not the first that has been promulgated and instead of the contents being made to reside with Cameroonians whom it was meant to serve, it is inauspiciously, conveyed to reside in the so called “official gazette” or journal that are always hard to come by.

Declaration of Asserts

Beyond the scarcity of the official texts of the new electoral code, Section 12 (7) states that all ELECAM members, 18 of them, shall be obliged to declare their property and assets. While this is yet to happen as Cameroonians await the ELECAM officials to comply with this before the next elections are held, all the 18 members of the ELECAM Board have continued to maintain a stone silence on this particular aspect of the law.

This is in line with Article 66 of the Cameroon Constitution which raised so much dust and at the end, the President finally sought refuge when it was opted that such declarations shall be done, for the President and State functionaries or elected ones in secrecy. But Section 12 sub 7 of the new code does not make any link to this option of secret declaration of assets.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01350

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