Browse the listing below to find government information for Cameroon, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Cameroon at its
Cameroon Country Page.
Type: Republic; strong central government dominated by president.
Independence: January 1, 1960 (for areas formerly ruled by France) and October 1, 1961 (for territory formerly ruled by Britain).
Constitution: June 2, 1972, last amended in January 1996
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state) 7-yr. term, renewable once; appointed prime minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral National Assembly (180 members, 5-yr. terms; meets briefly three times a year -- March, June, November); a new Senate is called for under constitutional changes made in early 1996. Judicial--falls under the executive's Ministry of Justice.
Administrative subdivisions: 10 provinces, 58 departments or divisions, 349 subprefectures or subdivisions.
Political parties: Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) or its predecessor parties have ruled since independence. Major opposition parties: the Social Democratic Front (SDF), the National Union for Democracy and Progress (NUDP), and the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU).
Suffrage: Universal at 20.
The 1972 constitution as modified by 1996 reforms provides for a strong central government dominated by the executive. The president is empowered to name and dismiss cabinet members, judges, generals, provincial governors, prefects, sub-prefects, and heads of Cameroon's parastatal (about 100 state-controlled) firms, obligate or disburse expenditures, approve or veto regulations, declare states of emergency, and appropriate and spend profits of parastatal firms. The president is not required to consult the National Assembly.
The judiciary is subordinate to the executive branch's Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court may review the constitutionality of a law only at the president's request.
The 180-member National Assembly meets in ordinary session three times a year (March/April, June/July, and November/December), and has seldom, until recently, made major changes in legislation proposed by the executive. Laws are adopted by majority vote of members present or, if the president demands a second reading, of a total membership.
Following government pledges to reform the strongly centralized 1972 constitution, the National Assembly adopted a number of amendments in December 1995, which were promulgated in a new Constitution in January 1996. The amendments call for the establishment of a 100-member senate as part of a bicameral legislature, the creation of regional councils, and the fixing of the presidential term to 7 years, renewable once. One-third of senators are to be appointed by the President, and the remaining two-thirds are to be chosen by indirect elections. As of November 2003, the government has not established the Senate or regional councils.
All local government officials are employees of the central government's Ministry of Territorial Administration, from which local governments also get most of their budgets.
While the president, the minister of justice, and the president's judicial advisers (the Supreme Court) top the judicial hierarchy, traditional rulers, courts, and councils also exercise functions of government. Traditional courts still play a major role in domestic, property, and probate law. Tribal laws and customs are honored in the formal court system when not in conflict with national law. Traditional rulers receive stipends from the national government.
The government adopted legislation in 1990 to authorize the formation of multiple political parties and ease restrictions on forming civil associations and private newspapers. Cameroon' s first multiparty legislative and presidential elections were held in 1992 followed by municipal elections in 1996 and another round of legislative and presidential elections in 1997. Because the government refused to consider opposition demands for an independent election commission, the three major opposition parties boycotted the October 1997 presidential election, which Biya easily won. The leader of one of the opposition parties, Bello Bouba Maigari of the NUDP, subsequently joined the government. In December 2000, the National Assembly passed legislation creating the National Elections Observatory (NEO), an election watchdog body. NEO played an active role in supervising the conduct of local and legislative elections in June 2002. Implementation of NEO's supervisory role is to be expanded to all phases of the electoral process in the 2004 presidential elections, including the voter registration process -- a traditional problem in Cameroonian elections.
Cameroon has a number of independent newspapers. Censorship was abolished in 1996, but the government sometimes seizes or suspends newspapers, Mutation, the only private daily newspaper in Cameroon was seized on April 14, 2003 after the paper published articles on "Life after Biya." Occasionally the government arrests journalists. Radio and television continue to be a virtual monopoly of the state-owned broadcaster, the Cameroon Radio-Television Corporation (CRTV) despite the effective liberalization of radio and television in 2000. Since the issuance of the decree authorizing the creation of private radio and television on April 3, 2000, not a single station has received a license from the Government, though many have applied and are currently operating while their applications are pending. There are some fifteen such private radio stations broadcasting in Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Bamenda and Limbe; their existence is tolerated by the Government. Magic FM, a private radio station in Yaounde, and a VOA affiliate, was shut down in 2003 after carrying controversial reports and critical commentaries on the regime, but was later reopened. There are a dozen community radio stations supported by UNESCO which are exempted from licenses and have no political content. Radio coverage extends to about 80% of the country, while television covers 60% of the territory. The sole private television station -- TV Max -- broadcasts only in the economic capital of Douala.
The Cameroonian Government's human rights record has been improving over the years but remains flawed. There continue to be reported abuses, including beatings of detainees, arbitrary arrests, and illegal searches. The judiciary is frequently corrupt, inefficient, and subject to political influence.