Cameroon PM rules out discussing presidency in dialogue

Wednesday September 25 2019

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute (Right) receives proposals on political reforms in the country from CENPA president Christian Ngah on September 24, 2019. Media associations called for a federal system of government with a rotational presidency limited to two five-year terms. Dr Dion Ngute said the presidency would not be discussed in the Major National Dialogue on the Anglophone region set for September 30. 

NDI EUGENE NDI
By NDI EUGENE NDI
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Cameroon journalists have proposed that the country adopts a federal system of government with a rotational presidency limited to two five-year terms.

Ahead of the National Dialogue set for September 30 to resolve the crisis in the restive Anglophone west, the Cameroon English Language Newspaper Publishers’ Association (CENPA) and the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ) also called for decriminalisation of media offences and release of detained journalists.

They made the proposals on Tuesday to Prime minister Joseph Dion Ngute who however said the system of government would not be discussed during the peace talks.

"We want to stabilize the (Anglophone) regions first and then look into the root causes of the problem,” Dr Dion Ngute said.

The government will from September 30 host a “Major National Dialogue” to solve to the bloody crisis that has engulfed the country’s two English speaking regions of the Northwest and Southwest, among other issues, for two years.

The talks in the capital Yaounde will span five days.

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Dr Dion Ngute said Anglophones will constitute the majority of delegates to the Yaounde peace talks.

Anglophone majority

The number of delegates to attend the conference has been increased twofold to 600, with the anglophone region producing 400, on the instructions of President Paul Biya.

“We propose the institution of a federal system of government with elected representatives, rotation of the presidency between Francophones and Anglophones and limitation of presidential terms to five years renewable once,” CENPA president Christian Ngah, who publishes cameroon's only English language daily, The Guardian Post, said.

“When you take a critically ill patient to the hospital, the first thing medics do is to stabilize the patient before looking at the root causes of the ailment." Dr Dion Ngute said of the proposed changes in the system of government.

Federalism and secession have long been considered taboo topics by the Yaounde regime that prefers a decentralized system of government.

Constitutional provisions for decentralisation in the Central African country are yet to be implemented, however, more than 20 years since they were adopted.

During a maiden visit to the restive regions in May, Dr Dion Ngute said Paul Biya was ready to "listen to all other issues with the exception of separation or secession."

President Biya announced the talks during a rare address to the nation on September 10 it is not clear who will be the delegates.

“Each person will have the opportunity to make a contribution,” Dr Dion Ngute said, adding his office was receiving proposals from different groups, opinion leaders and the diplomatic community.

Yaounde has also dispatched representatives abroad to seek views of Cameroonians in the diaspora and to convince exiled activists to take part in the discussions.

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