Thursday, December 6, 2012

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN A STALEMATE

BY AYAH Paul ABINE
It has often been said that Camerounese conduct themselves as if they are strangers on their own land. And verily, persons in authority in the fatherland are prone to haphazard conduct of official business. No
presiding judge am I any more to draw clear-cut conclusions, nay pass sharp judgments. But I would be doing my country a disservice by precluding myself from disinterested appreciation.
It is indisputable that Section 15(4) of the Constitution provides for the extension of the mandate of parliament in the event of “serious crisis”. It is a matter of interpretation whether in the face of the
phraseology “expiry of the extension or abridgement period” it is constitutional to have multiple extensions or abridgements, given that the term “period” is in the singular.
Whichever interpretation may be exclusively accurate, efficiency requires that the government ought to have examined the situation with zeal and prudence, and then go for a single extension in order to minimize human and material costs. Preferring the contrary can only be consistent with the ruling party’s selfish monopoly of the political agenda with consequential fraud on the people.
Again, the President of the Republic by a decree extended by twelve months the mandate of municipal councils elected with parliament on the same day. Rational conduct would have required that there be twin
election similarly on the expiry of the two mandates. Rational in the sense that twin election would cut down cost comprehensively. Why would any reasonable person extend one mandate by “six months
renewable” in respect of the one case, and another by twelve months concerning the other?
Another burning issue is the interpretation of the legal phrase “six months renewable”. One daresay that a good many a jurist would agree that the interpretation of the phrase must be within the ambit of the maxim “nossitur a soci”. In other words, the entire phrase must be taken together. That should mean that it is the period of six months which is renewable to the exclusion of any other period. Tabling a Bill for a period of three months as the government has done, therefore, is offensive to the law.
Taking advantage of all the legal jumble, parliamentarians are now demanding “vehicle maintenance allowance” on the ground that they are in a new mandate. Going by what is cooking, they will either make the
enactment of the finance law conditional on the government granting their demand, or they will reject the Bill on the extension of their mandate. That will of course rubbish all that ELECAM is telling Camerounese today about the next elections.




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