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Money Said to Hold up Cameroon By-Elections

  • Peter Clottey

Cameroon's long-time President Paul Biya is accused by an opposition leader of undermining the country's constitution.

Cameroon’s information minister has denied that President Paul Biya is flouting the constitution after an opposition leader accused him of refusing to organize elections to replace deceased members of the legislature.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary said the recent world economic downturn has financially weakened the administration’s ability to organize a parliamentary by-election to replace the legislators.

“I will like you to know that the government abides by the law. The Cameroon government is ruled by law [and] we are a law abiding country. The head of state sees to it that the law is respected everyday in the implementation of power in this country,” said Bakary.

Abba Aboubakar, leader of the opposition Révolution Camerounaise du Peuple Uni (Cameroon United People’s Revolutionary Party) said Thursday that he has filed a suit against President Biya at a regional human rights court for failing to organize by-elections.

Opposition leader Aboubakar contends that the empty seats in the legislature means the constituents are deprived of representation in the legislature, as well as government funds for infrastructural development.

The constitution stipulates that a by-election should be held within 12 months after the death of a member of parliament.

Aboubakar said he filed the case at the Gambia-based Human and People's Rights Court after Cameroonian courts refused to accept his legal challenge.

But, information minister Bakary said the government will continue to preserve and protect the constitution.

“This politician knows very well, for almost 20 years, this country has gone through very turbulent economic crisis. For almost 20 years, that government has not had the opportunity [to implement] any policies to alleviate the suffering of Cameroonians. Now, we have our heads above the water. We will just try and the government will do [its] the best.”

He also denied that the government is against dissent saying there is freedom of speech and association, as guaranteed under the constitution.