Commonwealth and Democracy


The question of democracy is a major problem confronting
Cameroon and other African states since the 1960’s.However, much efforts have been made by the Cameroonian Government to fashion on a pattern for itself ,and some form of aid have been extended by some countries and organizations to promote democracy, the most monumental which is the Commonwealth of Nations. Governmental efforts in promoting democracy has been successful to a
lesser extend, and beyond its efforts, other external efforts have come
through the Commonwealth of Nations. The author of this work intends to
explore the contributions made by the Commonwealth of Nations in promoting democracy in Cameroon and how despites its efforts, democracy is still a fog on the road in Cameroon due to the undemocratic policies of the government under the leadership of president Paul Biya.The author shall explore how the little extend in which democracy has been implemented in Cameroon is thanks to the combined efforts of the Government as a result of fear from being
sanctioned by some international organizations and the Commonwealth of

This study therefore is designed to examine how the
Commonwealth and Cameroon as a member functioned between 1995-2004 to
uplift her from its undemocratic situation, or one party democratic
dispensation to the level which she found herself today. In the course
Of this examination, we will see the extend of contributions of the
Commonwealth in promoting democracy in Cameroon.

The study commences from 1995 because it was the year
Cameroon was admitted in the Commonwealth of Nations by virtue of its Anglophone faction {Southern Cameroon} which was a former British mandate. But land marks shall be traced as far back as the colonial era which shall illustrate how Cameroon became a British colony to its final joining the Commonwealth in 1995.This studies terminates in the year 2004 to facilitate the evaluation of the extend to which the Commonwealth has accomplished its goal in Cameroon and to what extend democracy has improved in Cameroon.

Our stated aims and objectives, is to enrich the literature
of Cameroon as a member of the Commonwealth, to identify the major aids
has acquired from the Commonwealth which has helped to promote democracy in Cameroon, to expose the present situation in Cameroon as far as democracy is concern to the entire world the Commonwealth especially, so as to call for their indulgence in seeing into it that democratic principles should be respected and implemented by the Cameroonian Government .The above will be the basis for evaluating the following hypothesis!
A- That the present improvement of democracy in Cameroon is thanks to
the Commonwealth
B- There is a wide gap between policy support and policy implementation
by the Government of Cameroon.

This study is partitioned into four chapters. The first
Chapter is the background in which a general survey of the commonwealth is made looking at a brief history of the Commonwealth, its origin and development from the first to the second phase and the principal institutions of the commonwealth.

Chapter two deals with Cameroon’s admission into the
Commonwealth and the significance of its admission. Chapter three examines the role of the Commonwealth of Nations in promoting democracy in Cameroon, and how despites its efforts ,democracy is still a fog on the road in Cameroon due to the undemocratic policies of the government under the leadership of president Paul Biya and his dictatorial policies. This chapter shall also focus on the successes and failures of the Commonwealth, the democratic system of Cameroon abed policy implementation by the Commonwealth.

Chapter four is the concluding chapter of this work, which duels
on recommendations for better policy implementation and also handles
Issues of prospects by the Cameroon government in conjunction with the

In the course of this study, I made use of both primary and
secondary sources, My research venues were, the British council library in Yaoundé and Bamenda,Commonwealth head office at the ministry of external relations {MINREX},Central Archives, University of Buea Library,Buea public Archives, Archives of the National Assembly, and the Pan-African Institute library In Yaoundé. Interviews were carried out with leaders of main political parties, certain staffs at the Commonwealth department at MINREX,
and other heads of both governmental and non Governmental Organizations
in Cameroon in which most of the names of institutions and personalities named above are withheld. One other main problem was that of meeting officials for interview, some where afraid to disclose information and some denied completely to discuss on this.Finaly, on the spot evidence of Commonwealth projects or assistance were always difficult to fine. Finances for displacement and the and most of all, the fear of being harassed and arrested was another major obstacle

Chapter One

1.1 A brief definition of the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Nations formerly known as the British Commonwealth of Nations is in formal terms a group of sovereign states which recognized the British monarch as heads of the Commonwealth In
other words, the Commonwealth is a voluntary multilateral association
of independent sovereign states, spanning over every continent and
Ocean, sharing ideas and experiences,skills,know how, and a common language .It’s 1.7 billion people who account for 30 percent of the worlds population, are found in Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean’s, Europe, and the south pacific .It is an embodiment of diverse religion and its freedom,races,languages and cultures.

The Commonwealth is a system of net works from
the highest level of Heads of Government next to the United Nation
Organization {UNO}.This network rundown through ministerial meetings, professional Organisations,Non-Governmental Organizations {NGO} and social groups, to village Community, working in an informal manner serving as a bridge that links regions countries and cultures, and constitutes a platform for building and promoting international understanding and world peace,democracy,goodgovernance,respect of human rights and the rule of law and the alleviation of poverty through sustainable economic and social development.

These values, the fundamental values of the association
are expressed in two landmarks declarations, The Declaration of
Commonwealth Principles, which was agreed by the heads of states, governments of members’ countries in Singapore in 1971, and the Harare Commonwealth Declaration agreed at the 1991 heads of governments meeting in Zimbabwe. The Commonwealth has neither a Chapter nor a contitution.It is based essentially on a series of declarations and communiqués. Thus the Commonwealth today is being governed by the Harare Declaration which reaffirms the Commonwealth Principles declared twenty years previously in Singapore and pledged the association to concentrate particularly in efforts in number of key areas

– The promotion of its fundamental political values
– Equality for women,
– The provision of Universal access in education
– The promotion of sustainable development
– The protection of the environment
– Action To combat drug trafficking and abuse, and communicable disease
– Help small states in tackling particular economic and security problems
– The support for the UNO and other international institutions in the
for peace
– And the promotion for international consensus on global issues

In all, the Commonwealth of Nations is a Voluntary multilateral
Association of independent states which work hand in hand for purpose
of development especially to less developed Commonwealth nations.

1.2 A brief history of the Commonwealth Of nations.
The history of the Commonwealth to be better understood and illustrated must be traced back as far as the 19th century. In
tracing the history of the Commonwealth it is imperative that we make
demarcations between the first phase and the second phase ,which shall act as a clear cut in showing the origin, evolution , changes that has taken place since its creation and reasons for these changes .

The first Phase

The term “Commonwealth” was first used by William Shakespeare
in his play “Tempest” .The origins of the Commonwealth could be traced
back to the 19th century when in 1939, a report on the causes of discontent in the Canadian colonies was tabled to the British government and the proposals made in the report for responsible government became operational in Canada. Accordingly, in 1867 the status of Canada was transformed from that of colony to self-governing Dominion. Thus in 1884 Lord Rosbery a British politician called this changing empire of the” Commonwealth of Nations”.

The term was adopted as a political concept at the 1926 imperial
Conference where the dominions, Partial self governing colonies of
England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, were described as members of the “British Commonwealth of Nations”. In all, the first phase of the Commonwealth began in 1931 when the full independent status of the Dominions was set out in the status of West Minister, which was an Act passed by the British parliament .This first phase can be said to have ended in the early years of 1940’s which came as a result of the changing needs of the Commonwealth and it’s expansion to former British colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

The Second Phase.

With the changing needs of the Commonwealth, alongside its
evolution, expansion and its influence being felt on a wider sphere, there was thus a
demarcation from what the Commonwealth use to be as seen in phase one
and to what it became as would be illustrated below.

The turning point in the evolution in the Commonwealth came after
1945 when most member states joined the Organisation.Memeber states who
joined this Organization were former British colonies in Asia, Africa,
the Americas and Africa. Thus the original association of Brittany and her dominions {known as the white mass club} drawn by the 1931 statue of west Minster changed from British Commonwealth which put and end to the use of the word British in the appellation so as to reflect the new realities of the different Nation states which make up the Commonwealth. From 1931 there fore, till present date the new British Commonwealth is called the Commonwealth of Nations also know as the Gentle man’s club.

The second phase of the Commonwealth also came at a time when the
realities of the world was changing Politicaly, Socialy and Economically. To this effect, it also changed in its ideas to meet up with the changing times. After 1945,the Organization was faced with variety of problems which became rime conern.these problems cut across the Socio-Political and Economic sphere. The prime focus was that Less Developed Countries {LDC’S} needed much attention in the Political domain such as, good governance, democracy and human rights, In the Economic domain such as sustainable development,industralisation just to name a few and in the social domain into her sphere of education,health,gender equality, human resource, youth and sports and the public service.

The Commonwealth in recent years have admitted new members not
affiliated to the British crown at all, one of them is Mozambique. Thus
the Commonwealth formerly known as an association of former British
colonies is now accepting other actions without this afiliation.This changing needs of the Commonwealth came as a result of it’s changing needs and desires, The admission of none former British colonies is basically for economic reasons which ties with the fact that economic preferences are the only material bonds linking Commonwealth countries. what therefore matters for the next years to come is what the desires of the Commonwealth will be.

1.3 Principal Institutions of The Commonwealth

The principal organ of the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth
Secretariat which is headed by a secretary general who is assisted by
three deputy secretaries’ generals. Since the creation of the secretariat in 1965, it has been headed by four secretary generals—Arnold Smith from
Canada (1965-1975) sir Shridath Ramphal from English Guyana (1975-1990),
Chief Emeka Anyaoku from Nigeria (1990-1999) and present Don McKinnon from New Zealand (1999).

The secretariat has twelve divisions and has a man power of
about 360, drawn from the member countries. The secretariat is responsible for the organization of Commonwealth summits, meetings of
Ministers, consultative meetings and technical discussions, it facilitates multilateral communication among the member governments. Before 1945 all the meetings were held in London, but since then, other capita; have played host to some meetings. Before 1945, meetings were he’d in private; they took place in a frank and informal atmosphere, and provided an opportunity for personal contacts. But with the increase membership in the 1960’s and with the increase
number of officials present, the meetings became more formal.

Another organ of the Commonwealth is the Commonwealth Fund for
Technical Co-operation (CFTC) which is the development arm of the
Commonwealth. The CFTC receives voluntary contributions from
Commonwealth governments and utilizes it in development assistance usually executed by the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), which provides experts, training, legal, economic or financial advice, in the areas of it’s intervention, geared towards advancing the sustainable economic and social development of member countries by providing skills and capacity building.

Finally there is the Commonwealth youth council in charge of youth
Programs among Commonwealth nations, and the Commonwealth science
council which is in charge of scientific development, All the above named institutions are geared towards achieving the aims and objectives of the Commonwealth which is that of serving as an ethical political force as well as instrument of social and economic development of it’s member states as was illustrated in the Harare declaration of 1991.

Chapter two

2.1 Cameroon’s admission into the Commonwealth

Cameroon was admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations in
November 7 1995.To better understand why and how Cameroon became a
member of the Commonwealth of Nations, one will go as far back as 1884 to trace the history of Cameroon how it became a British colony to its final becoming a member of the Commonwealth in 1995.

The establishment of a German protectorate over Cameroon in
1884, Ended in 1916 after the defeat of Germany by the allied powers of
France and Britain in World War One (WW1).The joint Anglo-French military efforts under the African expeditionary force (AEF) succeed in expelling the Germans from
Kamerun.The Anglo-French decision to jointly administer the Cameroons
was never realized because differencies.Following the Picot provisional
Partition agreement 1916, the former German Kamerun was partitioned. The Picot agreement to partition Cameroon was meant to be temporary but to turn out to be permanent.

The two Cameroons were placed under the League of Nations as
Mandated territories, and after 1945 became Trust territories of the
United Nations (UN) which succeeded the league of Nations. Cameroon being now a trust territory of the UN required Britain and France to administer it towards self government and independence as stipulated under article 76(b) of the UN charter. These changes made the Cameroons to clamor for self –government
and independence. To this effect, French Cameroon achieved independence
on January 1 1960 under the name of Republic of Cameroon. British Southern Cameroons achieved independence by joining the republic through a plebiscite in 1961.Together the two Cameroons became Federal republic of Cameroon under its first president Amadou Ahijo from French
Cameroon and vice John Ngu Foncha.from southern Cameroon. From this
period onwards ,Cameroons foreign policy under president Amadou Ahijo was oriented towards , and centered around “alignment and international co-operation”
Thus Cameroon participated in Regional, as well as International
Organisations. This worked to serve the interest of the Cameroonian. Thus to maintain international co-operation, Cameroon got involve in the Commonwealth in 1995 under the corrupt and dictatorial regime of president Paul Biya thanks to its Anglophone section an affiliation to Britain.

Relations between Cameroon and the Commonwealth have had major land
marks which goes beyond 1986 that is when the Commonwealth Fund for
Technical Co-operation selected the Pan African Institute for
Development as training center for agriculture and rural development On September 1989, Cameroon requested admission into the Commonwealth as an observer, In October 28 1990 Cameroon requested admission as full member, in November 1991, Cameroon participated in the Harare Summit, on 1 March 1992, the National Assembly passed resolution 11/AN authorizing the president of the republic of Cameroon to rectify Cameroons adherence to the Harare Declaration. In June 1993, Chief Emeka Anyaouku, the then secretary general of the Commonwealth visited Cameroon at the invitation of the Head of State president Paul Biya Nbivondo.In November 1993, a Cameroonian delegation
attended the Commonwealth Heads of government meeting in Cyprus, In November 1994 a four man Commonwealth mission led by Koma Hossein came to evaluate the evolution of Cameroons domestic political situation, and in November 7 1995 ,Cameroon was admitted as the 52nd member of the Commonwealth of nations.

Following Cameroons admission into the Commonwealth in 1995, the
Commonwealth day celebrations was celebrated for the first time in
Cameroon on 11 March 1996 and it’s first ever attendance at the heads of government meeting on the 13 of November 1995 in Auckland – New Zealand as a flesh member in the “ gentle mans club”.

2.2 Significance of Cameroons admission into the Commonwealth of

Cameroons admission into the Commonwealth in 1995 did not come
as a coincidence but came as a matter of necessity. Part of Cameroon being a former British colony , it was necessary for this section to benefit from this Organization and to do so Cameroon had to join the Commonwealth to reap or share in the advantages as a member. Before examining the significance of Cameroons admission into the Commonwealth, it is imperative that we look first at what advantages the Commonwealth of Nations has or provides to its members. Secondly, we will look at the areas in which the Commonwealth provides assistance to its members, and the specificity of its assistance. By examining the above mentioned, we are going to pin-point its significance
as far as Cameron is concern, concentrating much on its advantages to

The raison d’etre of the admission into the Commonwealth is a
matter of right and necessity. The Commonwealth of Nations is a complex and
Cohesive system of multilateral net work is endowed with a two-track mandate:
Internally: it is an instrument of service to its members, providing
them the necessary assistance via policy advice, training of skills, the service of experts in diverse fields.etc.

Externally: with its global reach and unique experience of consensus
building as highlighted elsewhere, the Commonwealth constitutes a catalytic force ideally placed to effect the derived change for a new world. It also plays leadership role in articulating at various multilateral Foray , the interest of it’s developing members countries, for instance debt relief within International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Bank, and Paris Club: Trade within World Trade Organization,(WTO) European Union (EU) Uruguay round: and environmental issues etc.

Further more, the Commonwealth is said to be the most important
Organization which occupies such a high influential position after the
UN, because of its huge economic and political capabilities. With such an influential position, the Commonwealth has got much to offer to the
Cameroonian people thanks to its Anglophone section. This signifies
the importance of Cameroons being a member.

Looking at the Commonwealth numerically, it comprises 54 states,
representing one third of UN membership, with a population of 1.6
billion or 25 percent of world total. At the level of international trade, over 20 percent of world trade is concentrated within the Commonwealth zone. Experts from the Commonwealth countries account also for over 20 percent of world total. If investments outside the zone are taken into account, the value rises to 30 percent.

Technologically, being a built-in component of investment, the above
figures reflect a substantial proportion of the value of the worlds
technological capability. On the level of availability of resources, the Commonwealth countries collectively are endowed with a high potency of world natural and human resources as well as market potentials for raw materials and manufactured goods.

Politically, many of its members are undoubtedly among the most
influential on international decision making.Politicaly the
Commonwealth serves as an ethical political force to promote fundamental political values as contained in the Harare Declaration of 1991.

Culturally, in addition to English being the most widely spoken
language in international for a, the Commonwealth is the largest single
multilateral Organization.

These political and economic trump cards place the Commonwealth
Ideally to service and defend the interest of developing countries on
the international secene.Cameroon being our prime concern here, case in point include its recent intervention in international finance institutions (IMF World Bank, Paris Club, WTO, and the EU .etc

Another significance of Cameroon entrance into the Commonwealth is
that Cameroon shall benefit from Commonwealth assistance in key sectors which cut across Socio-Economic and Political development.

Politically: it shall benefit from assistance in the areas of democracy,
Goodgovernance, law, humanrights and regional intergration.

Economically: It shall benefit from assistance in the areas of trade
and investment, development of the private sector, development and
exploitation of natural resources, forestry, enviroment, agriculture and debt management.

Socially: It shall benefit from assistance in the areas of, education,
Health, human resource development, science and technology, public
service reforms, youth and sports, and the fight against poverty.

The specificity or terms of the Commonwealth are very soft, that
is to say it is non-refundable and no strings are attached. The softness of its assistance is geared towards development. Thus Cameroon being member no doubt benefits from the Commonwealth. To avoid being lengthy and verbose, we shall focus solely on the political domain, concentrating on democracy which is our prime concern in this research work.

Chapter three

3.1 The role of the Commonwealth of Nations in changing times in
Africa and its efforts in
Promotion of Democracy in the Cameroon’s.

The Commonwealth has as one of its main priorities the
Promotion of its fundamental political values. History has taught us that a healthy political environment is a prerequisite for all social and economic progress. The most visible face of the Commonwealth commitment to its fundamental political values has been the transition through free elections of military regimes and one party state to democratic, civilian, and multiparty systems of government. The Commonwealth democratic system stipulates that, a country can attain a considerable level of democracy if she practices good governance, respect for human rights, has good laws and a good constitution. It is based on the above that we shall examine the situation Cameroon before and after joining the Commonwealth.

Cameroon before joining the Commonwealth of Nations in 1995 has
been practicing democracy to a very low extent since independence Before independence, there had existed some degree of multi[arty politics in both French and English Cameroons.Multiparty politics ended in Cameroon after 1972 when the then president Amodou Ahijo of the Federal Republic of Cameroon tactfully re-united the two Cameroons on 20 May 19972.This was followed by the unification of all political parties to form the Cameroon National Union (CNU) which became the sole party and marked not only the end of the federal state, but the end of multipartism and the creation of the United Republic of Cameroon.

Following the re-unification of the two Cameroons, there was a
Constitutional amendment on June 1972 from that of a federal
Constitution to that of a unitary constitution. The then president Amadou Ahijo wielded unviable powers and ran the affairs of the United Republic of Cameroon with, or no consultation with the speaker of the House of Assembly who was only a “Constitutional successor”. Such a system for government was undemocratic for there was no political accountability, the civil society had no rights, for rights were stifted,there was mass violation of human rights, poor degree of good governance, the constitution and subsidiary laws were flouted, and the rule by decrees became the acceptable pattern.

The one party system continued even after president Paul Biya
succeeded president Amadou Ahijo in 6 November 1982, after president Ahijo had ruled Cameroon successfully for the fifth consecutive five years term which no doubt is undemocratic for a single person to rule a nation for this time duration. The reign of President Paul Biya which began on Saturday 6 November 1982 at exactly 10.00am was no much better than that of his prediccestor.Democracy however improved to some extent as seen in the first constitutional amendments in November 1983.Article 7 of the constitution was modified to allow for several candidates to run for the presidency if certain conditions werefulfilled.What should be noted that is that, even though this text was in place, the presidential which took place on 14 January 1984 saw the incumbent president Paul Biya as the only candidate, and in the election he won a 99,98 percent of the votes.

Political developments in Cameroon saw the change of the name C.N.U
the then sole party in the Bamenda congress of 1985.The then C.N.U was
changed to the Cameroon peoples democratic party {CPDM).The one party system continued until in 1990 when multiparty politics was re-introduced in Cameroon, which marked a new era in the political history of Cameroon as new structures of a democratic nation began emerging. The above paragraphs there fore illustrates the democratic situation of Cameroon prior to 1990 what lies after 1990 will be discussed in the subsequent paragraphs and


3.2 The birth of multipartism.

The one party system had existed since 1966, that is when
all political parties in both former West and West Cameroon merged to form the CNU.Be that as it may, disadvantages of a one party system, and the wind of change which blew across Eastern Europe in policies of Glasnost and Perestroika did not end there, but evaporated to Africa, the result was the multyparty revolution. In Cameroon it resulted to the launching of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) in Bamenda on 26 May 1990 by John Fru ndi who is the chairman of the party. . Between February and March 1990, thousands of CPDM militants and sympathizers marched through the national territory against the re-introduction of multipartism in spite of the fact that the country’s constitution provided for it. President Paul Biya in response to they numerous motions of support against the re-introduction of multipartism, told
his militants on 9 April 1990 that” I have understood you”. And later
Called on his militants to be prepared for political competition. Following this, in December 1990, a law was passed re-instituting multiparty politics in Cameroon.

The rebirth of multiparty politics which saw the legalization of
several political parties by the Biya regime in 1991 meant the rebirth
of democracy. This so because the new opposition which was formed began to demand for changes in the political statuesque of the nation. The
Opposition demanded an independent electoral code and the convening of a sovereign national conference which will chart a new course for Cameroon beginning with a transitional government. The transitional government was expected to put in place all the democratic institutions after which elections at all levels would be conducted. The government did not heel to these demands of the opposition which caused some rioting and a call for civil disobedience which was known as operation ghost town and dead country. The destruction caused by civil disobedience called by the opposition, forced the government
to dialogue with the opposition parties in November 1991 which was
called the Tripartite Conference held in Yaoundé. Resolutions from this
Tripartite Conference was put down in the Yaoundé Tripartite Declaration of 13 November 1991. This declaration calmed the grudge of the opposition as it proved promissing.But policy made did not mean policy implementation.

Cameroon before the holding of the tripartite conference in 1991 had earlier requested in September 1989 for membership into the Commonwealth as and observer. This was followed by another demand
for admission in October 28 1990 as full member. In Cameroon `participated in the Harare summit. an in March 1 1992 the National Assembly passed resolution 11/AN authorizing the president of the Republic of Cameroon to ratify the Cameroons adherence to the Harare Declaration. .Following this resoltuion,in June 1993 chief Emmeka Anyaouku then secretary general of the Commonwealth visited Cameroon at the invitation of the Head of state president Paul Biya.His visit was sole to evaluate Cameroons political situation and to see how Cameroon’s demands to join the Commonwealth would be considered. following this, in 1993 a Cameroonian delegation attended the Commonwealth heads of government meting in Cyprus. This delegation went to lobby for admission into the Commonwealth by portraying Cameroon as a democratic or a country that is practicing democracy. Responding issue, a four man delegation came to Cameroon in November 1994 to evaluate the evolution of Cameroons domestic political sitaution.This was followed by the admission of Cameroon into the Commonwealth of Nations in 7 November 1995 as the 52nd member..

The admission of Cameroon into the Commonwealth was on the basis
that Cameroon had attained some degree of democracy or was practicing
democracy .The admission of Cameroon was widely contested by political activist
Who saw it as false hood on the part of the government, especially because the government had just rigged the presidential elections held in 1992 by the corrupt regime of President Paul Biya and his CPDM party. Cameroons admission therefore signified that as from that day onwards the Commonwealth had the rights of fulfilling one of her fundamental values, which is the promotion of democracy in Cameroon.

3.1 The role of the Commonwealth in promoting democracy in Cameroon.

The admission of Cameroon into the Commonwealth meant much for
It’s future democratic process. Though the admission was widely contested or criticized by the opposition which saw Cameroon as and undemocratic nation because of the dictatorial and corrupt nature of its president Paul Biya and his entourage, it should however be borne in mind that this admission has confirmed the fact that “it is easier to change a system from insider other than from outside”. To this we would accept that since Cameroon joined this Organization, it has done much to improve on the democratic standards of Cameroon. For instance it has futures of a democratic nation being good governnace, respect for human rights to a very less extent, and laws most often passed by decrees. To this we shall be looking how the Commonwealth intervened in the democratization process.

Good governance
Cameroons admittance into the Commonwealth meant its
respect of the Harare Declaration which demanded that all governments
should practice good governance and democracy. So far as this domain is
Concern, Cameroon has benefited from the Commonwealth secretariat assistance, in organizing conferences on democracy and good governance, by sending electoral assistance to observe elections, and by frequent Commonwealth Secretariat visit to Cameroon to check and advice the Cameroonian government on democratic and good governance practices..

As far as conferences are concerned, Cameroon has
Participated in Regional conference on democracy and good governance in Camborne in Botswana in February 1997.The Cameroonian delegation was headed by Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musunge who is a figure head despite his position and a stooge to the Biya regime. This conference was also attended by leaders of two main opposition parties in Cameroon. These were John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front and Belo Bouba Maigari of the National Union for Democracy and Progress. Further more; Cameroon has been participating on courses on corruption and anti corruption. She participated in a course in November 1998 which was held for promoting efficiency in public institution
In March 1997, Commonwealth experts were sent to Cameroon to
participate in monitoring of the presidential elections as
observers. Final repots was objective. But the elections was boycotted by many and greatly contested by the opposition of not being free and fair.President Paul Biya already worn before even going for elections. Ballot boxes were already stuff with CPDM voting cards before election day.Also, the 2004 prseidential election which president Biya carried the day by a big majority of the votes given him another 7 years in power making it 31 years to be in power, Commonwealth experts also participates obsevers.But this elections was contested by the opposition for it was not free and fair elctions.In addition to the above, there is and ongoing project on electoral assistance
to Cameroon. This project has as objectives to provide to short term
experts for a mission to Cameroon for the establishment of an independent electoral commision.This project has not yet materialised.In 24 February 2000, two experts form the COMSEC in the names of Mr. Carl Dun Das and Francoise Chapman visited Cameroon within the context on technical assistance on issues in electoral issues

Cameroon was also visited by a three man delegation made up of the secretary general Don McKinnon and Dr Victor Pungon.The
visit stressed on democracy and good governance. On this visit the
Heralds reported that, president Paul Biya promised to organize free and transparent elections. A promise the Cameroonian people are still waiting. In al, the Commonwealth has done it’s quota as an advisory body to promote democracy in Cameroon. What is left now is President and his regime to implement these principles of Human rights

According to the human right clause of the Commonwealth,
every person has the right to human dignity. This includes all aspects of human rights to life, property, association, movement, development, freedom of speech and so on. Respect for these rights is recognized as an essential ingredient of the associations fundamental values.Assitance in these domains provided in Institution building and through education and training of officials. Areas of focus for human rights activities has been the promotion of greater awareness of human rights concerns among public officials, judges, teachers and other target groups, training of public officials and exchange of information on human rights Jurisprudence and training materials.

The repeat for human rights in Cameroon has been of fundamental
Value to the government and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The
Commonwealth Secretariat has assisted Cameroon through workshops, seminars, conferences, and training programs nationally and internationally on human rights. Cameroon participated in a Commonwealth workshop in Kampala –Uganda, from 14 April
to 2 May 1997 under the Commonwealth African Regional programmed for the training of human rights trainers. Cameroon was represented in this
Workshop by barrister Eyoh and some members of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedom, {NCHRF) of Cameroon. Further more, Cameroon participated in a seminar on Commonwealth National human rights Institution promoting good practices. This was organized by the Commonwealth human rights initiative and the Institute of policy research. {CHIIPPR} in London from 16 to 17 October 1997.Cameroon was represented by Dr Solomon For Gwei chairman of the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedom of Cameroon. In addition to this, a seminar was organized in Yaoundé on Human rights prison administration in March 1998.all to foster the needs of human rights and its respect in Cameroon.

Further more, a completed project on the workshop on strengthening
capacity of national commission on human rights through training of
Officials, and development of national plan of action in Cameroon, has
played a great role in uplifting the respect of human rights. The
project and it’s objectives has developed a national plan action for promoting awareness and respect for human rights, has also strengthened the role and capacity for delivery of services to the general public through efficient management and finally the project has improved and strengthened capacity of the human rights institutional staff to conduct effective and efficient investigations .In the sphere of provision of assistance in the domain of human rights and especially in the furtherance of democracy in Cameroon, the Commonwealth has done its quota as and advisory body what is left now is the Cameroonian government to implement them. This shall be looked into in the
Concluding chapter to what extent the Biya’s government has been
implementing all these and the present situation in Cameroon Law

Many countries of the Commonwealth practice the Common law legal
system .The former Southern Cameroon today Anglophone Cameroon, also practice the common law legal system as virtue of this, Cameroon has received advice and experts on law from the Commonwealth Secretariat so as to improve on her legal system. This is important because for any democratic process to be successful the rule of law must be guaranteed, and good laws are the force behind a successful human society.

In this domain, there is presently and ongoing project on the
Codification of the common law in Cameroon .This project contains the
sending of experts, and the compilation of common law and training of
Staffs of the ministry of justice. This project has also objectives to
Identify, review, edit, and compile common law into a series of volumes in one document. Cameroon has also receive assistance and advice by her participating on conferences on money laundry which groups top civil
Servants of the judiciary within the Commonwealth in September 1998.She
also participated in a Commonwealth parliamentary Association
Conference in Wellington New Zealand in September 1999, and Cameroon participates in Commonwealth ministerial meetings of justice yearly.Finaly, the Common law is been taught in the University of Buea which is a Commonwealth university and in the states universities. But it should be borne in mind that when common law is not fully practiced in Cameroon for it is dominated by the French civil law.

Chapter four

4.1 The present situation in Cameroon.

The Commonwealth has done its quota as adviser in the promotion
of democracy in Cameroon in the spheres of good governance, human rights and law through the organization of worships, seminars, conference and the provision of experts and inquiries mission to Cameroon.

With all these structures put in place and measures taken by the
Commonwealth of Nations to strengthened Cameroons democracy, and since
the re-birth of multipartism in Cameroon, is disgusting to note that the
practice of democracy has been a failure in Cameroon. But on the other
hand the president is promising some progress which is only normal, for democracy is a gradual process. So according to him democracy is still evolving making it a gradual process.

Since Cameroons admission into the Commonwealth and since the
rebirth of mulitpartism, Cameroon is still and autocratic state displaying the vistas of fallacious democracy. It has a government that is only highly inefficient and prêt nary, which also violates human rights. Cameroon is made up of an illegitimate government, elected from a fraudulent electoral process and a government with little feelings for the plight of Cameroonians, a government that has split the country into micro-ethnic components and wherein tribalism has become the tradition. A country were the notions of solidarity,
unity and the sense of national community are fast diminishing, a
country were citizens no longer have rights, only obligations, especially the obligations to obey, a country were the citizens are under the yoke of poverty and misery in spite of it’s incredible wealth which has been misused and embezzled by the Biya regime, a country which the judiciary has remained an appendage of the executive(president Paul Biya)

Further more, elections practices are not free and tranparent.Criminals
are arbitrary arrested and executed without trials, and are detained for long without trials. Pole are being arrested and detained for proclaiming their rights or for criticizing the government. The case of Ebenezer Akwanger, prseident of the Southern Cameroon Youth league, chief Ayamba otte Etta president of the Southern Cameroonian council, editors of independent news papers e.g. Pius Njawe of “le Messager”and advocators of human rights policies such as Albert Mukong, and many other political activities of opposition leaders and their militants country were university education has been politicize and a respect to the ruling party CPDM guarantees you a high position in the civil service .for instance in the University of Buea were the vice chancellor Dorothy Njuema is a staunch CPDM member and is part
of the political-bureau, and her nomination to that position is thanks to her
loyalty to the regime, proffessors and lecturers are being granted
positions due to their respect for the CPDM and not out of educational
merits. Students are dismissed for advocating for their rights and
creation of a student union to better the situation of students. This issue led to the dismissal of the present president of the Southern Cameroon Youth league a then student at the Buea University who is now in exile in Nigeria, running away from persecution from the Biya regime.

Anglophones are being assimilated through economic, and political
domination to outright marginalization, which goes against the accord
of the Fumban conference which re-unified Cameroon. Anglophones are grossly unrepresented in the power structure of the country and even treated as second class citizens and brandished as “les enemies dans la maison” enemies in the house, and most often called as “biafras”.The domination of Anglophone is in all level in the country, this is for instance can be depicted from the character size of inscription “ASSEMBLEE NATIONALE” and in English “national assembly” which hang over the main entrance to the parliamentary building in Yaoundé. This is just to show the importance given to each language. It certainly would not be an imagination that, that was done on purpose for no extra cost would have been incurred nor more damage
done to the building to give both inscription equal prominence. Scholarships granted to Cameroonians by the Commonwealth are given to francophone students not on merits but because they are francophone in addition to ‘francophonie’ scholarships.

This situation of Anglophone domination has brought disunity and
made the Anglophones to feel not part of the nation. This has given birth to pressure groups with its main branch being the Southern Cameroon National Council formed in 1995.and its youth wing being the Southern Cameroons Youth league. This pressure group has been clamoring for separation from French Cameroon and self independence for the Southern Cameroons.Since its birth ,its support are sympathy has spread wide round the nation and its members are being arrested and some executed without trail on grounds of civil disobedience and critics of the state. Some of its members are still in prison and some are on self exile for fear of being arrested and executed by the Biya regime. It should be borne in mind that Cameroon was admitted into the Commonwealth because of its Anglophone affiliation to Britain as a
former colony. But is shameful to understand, unbelievable to accept
that this section which qualified Cameroon to join the Commonwealth is given no recognizance and respect.

Looking at the above, one will say without fear of contradiction
and beyond reasonable doubts that, the Cameroonian government is an obstacle to Commonwealth assistance’s some extend Cameroon is not yet
technologically well developed which retards administrative work and weigh down the speed. Also, the Cameroon government does not pay it’s required contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat {COMSEC}, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation{,CFTC }and the Commonwealth programmed for Youth {CPY} in time or some times they don’t even pay. This slows down Commonwealth attention to Cameroon. they prefer to listen to those who pay before those
who don’t?


The Cameroon government has to ensure the following, respect the Harare Declaration fully, make Cameroon a democratic state wherein the the rule of law is respected, guarantee a rational equilibrium in power separation between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, so that these organs fully assume their responsibilities,guaranteing human rights and freedoms,guaranteing electoral transparency by adopting a single electoral code, creating and independent electoral commission and preserving the independence of the judiciary as major instrument in the promotion of a state of law , without which there can be no genuine democracy.

Further more, the government should put in place a code of local
Government with the aim of guaranteeing the autonomy of democratically
elected local government officials. Finally she should create an
Independent constitutional court, an accounts court, and a high court
charged respectively with verifying the constitutionality of laws, the
management of public property, and the prosecution of state officials
who betray the public trust vested on them. Such as Ministers,
Delegates, governors and many more who miss use state property and
embezzle state funds and are out laws due to their position and their loyalty to the ruling party CPDM.

Finally, If all the above mentioned proposals are implemented, it
Would end the decades of arbitrary tyrannical rule by one man and remove Cameroon from the dark abyss of an undemocratic society. It will usher in a new dispensation, wit a dynamic participatory political culture, a constitutional democracy and a people- centered government that will guarantee national consensus, political stability, sustainable economic development and finally a society which would be both communal and liberal in character as written by President Paul Biya in his book titled “Communal liberalism”.


By Tasili Tebo Wacham
SCYL France Bureau

reedom is never given but seized”

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