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Tchiroma Protests Effective Anti-Corruption Laws 

By Yerima Kini Nsom — Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, seems to have an objection with laws aimed at stemming corruption in the country.
    Last weekend, he hurled a bitter verbal attack on the Cameroon Chapter of the international anti-corruption outfit, Transparency International, TI, for daring to recommend effective ways of fighting the canker worm.
     In an interview with the State owned radio, Tchiroma said in blunt terms that the organisation and other groups have been bought over to destabilise Cameroon.

     The Minister’s outburst was a reaction to a call by TI and some civil society organisations on Government to apply Article 66 of the Constitution in order to accelerate the fight against corruption. In a meeting in Yaounde on Friday, July 13, the civil society groups equally urged Government to enact an anti-corruption law before the end of the year, but Tchiroma quickly dismissed this call as a thinly veiled ploy to destabilise the country. He claimed that TI and other organisations were hired by enemies of Cameroon to plunge the country into turmoil.

     In what observers described as a lame argument, Tchiroma said the demand of the organisation was not necessary because Article 66 of the Constitution that provides for the declaration of assets by state officials, is not the only way of fighting corruption in the country. He cited the National Anti-Corruption Commission, CONAC, the National Financial Investigations, ANIF and other anti-graft organisations created by Government, saying they are watchdogs that effectively check the cankerworm in the country.
    Tchiroma said no vote holder or manager of public funds can still muster the courage to toy with State money, because, the many anti-corruption outfits are hanging on their heads like a sword of Damocles. To him, the call for the application of Article 66 of the Constitution is an unnecessary distraction, tailored by the enemies of Cameroon to destabilise the country.

     Meanwhile, political pundits have been indicting the Biya Government for lacking the political will to truly fight corruption. In a recent media outing, the outspoken SDF Member of Parliament for the Wouri Constituency, Hon Jean Michel Nintcheu, said if Government does not cause officials, beginning with President Biya, to declare their assets, the so called fight against corruption will never have any iota of credibility.

    The law on the declaration of assets has been on hold after it was adopted by the National Assembly in 2006. The President of the Republic, according to observers, is seen to be the one sitting on it, since he is the only one who has the power to issue a text of application and appoint members of the declaration commission.

 From every indication, the same situation holds sway for the creation of many other institutions stipulated by the 1996 Constitution. For instance, the Cameroonian Parliament has remained incomplete, even though the Constitution provides for the creation of an Upper House, the Senate. Thus, the National Assembly has continued to sit in for the Senate in many occasions. In the same vein, the Supreme Court has been performing the functions of the yet-to-be-created Constitutional Council.

Asked why the creation of such institutions was suffering such undue delay, the Minister Delegate at the Presidency In charge of Relations with the National Assembly, said the institutions will be put in place progressively. Yet, it is public knowledge that the only provision in the 1996 Constitution that was applied without any procrastination was the change of the mandate of the President of the Republic from five to seven years.

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