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Cameroon : Constitution and politics

Constitution

Status: 
Republic with executive President
Legislature: 
National Assembly of Cameroon
Independence: 
1 January 1960

Under the constitution adopted in 1996 Cameroon is a unitary republic with an executive President – elected every seven years – who appoints the Prime Minister and council of ministers. The President also appoints the provincial governors, the judges and government delegates in main towns. In April 2008, Cameroon’s parliament approved a constitutional amendment allowing the President to serve for more than two terms. Presidential elections must then be conducted not less than 20 days or more than 120 days following the vacancy.

The National Assembly has 180 members, directly elected every five years by universal adult suffrage, and has three sessions a year, in March, June and November. The constitution also provides for an upper house, the Senate, with 100 members, 70 per cent of whom are elected every five years by electoral colleges comprising local government councillors and 30 per cent nominated by the President. Each region is thus represented in the Senate by ten senators, seven of whom are indirectly elected and three appointed by the President. Elections to the Senate were held for the first time on 14 April 2013.

The National Assembly has 180 members, directly elected every five years by universal adult suffrage, and has three sessions a year, in March, June and November. The constitution also provides for an upper house, the Senate, with 100 members, 70% of whom are elected every five years by electoral colleges comprising local government councillors and 30% nominated by the president. Each region is thus represented in the Senate by ten senators, seven of whom are indirectly elected and three appointed by the president. Elections to the Senate were held for the first time on 14 April 2013

Politics

In the June 2002 general election, the third since the introduction of multi-party politics in 1990, the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) gained 133 seats, substantially extending its parliamentary majority, while the Social Democratic Front (SDF) took 21 (mainly in the English-speaking North-West), the Union for Democracy and Change (UDC) five and Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) three. Elections in nine constituencies with 17 Assembly seats were annulled by the Supreme Court and re-run in September 2002, when 16 were won by the CPDM and one by the SDF.

Incumbent President Paul Biya won a landslide victory in the October 2004 presidential election receiving 75 per cent of the votes.

The elections in July 2007 extended the ruling CPDM’s majority in the National Assembly. On announcement of the results, 103 petitions for annulment were filed with the Supreme Court. A re- run ordered by the Court for 17 of the 180 seats in September 2007 resulted in reducing the CPDM’s holding to 153 seats; while SDF took 16, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) six, UDC four and Progressive Movement one. At the re-run in September 2007, the CPDM took 13 of the 17 contested seats, the SDF two and the UNDP two.

In early 2008 the National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment removing presidential term limits which opened the way for President Biya to seek re-election. Biya won the presidential election in October 2011 increasing his share of the vote to about 78.0 per cent. His main rival in a field of more than 20 candidates was John Fru Ndi (SDF) who secured about 10.7 per cent of the vote. The election was observed by a Commonwealth expert team.

In the first Senate elections, held on 14 April 2013, the ruling CPDM won 56 of the 70 elective seats and the SDF 14. National Assembly and local elections were held on 30 September 2013, when the CPDM won 148 seats in the Assembly, the SDF 18, the UNDP five, the UDC four and the UPC three.

Head of government

HE Mr Paul Biya, President
HE Mr Paul Biya became President of Cameroon on 6 November 1982 following the resignation of his predecessor, Mr Ahmadou Ahidjo. Mr Biya was returned to office in 1984, 1988, 1992 (by the first pluralist presidential ballot ever held in the country), and in 1997 and 2004 for seven-year terms. Mr Biya held the post of President of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement in 1985 following its transformation from the Cameroon National Union Party which he had also presided upon since 1983. Mr Biya was appointed Prime Minister in 1975. He had earlier served as Minister of State and Secretary-General in the Office of the President in 1970. From 1968 to 1970, he was Secretary-General and Director of the Civil Cabinet in the Office of the President. Mr Biya served as Director of the Civil Cabinet from 1967 to 1968. Before that, he was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Culture in 1965, and served as its Director of Cabinet in 1964. Mr Biya was Chargé de Mission of the Presidency of Cameroon in 1962. He attended the University of Sorbonne’s Faculty of Law where he obtained a degree in Public Law. Mr Biya also studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and Institut des Haute Études d’Outre-Mer. Mr Biya was born on 13 February 1933 in Mvoméka’a, South Province, Cameroon.