The evolution of Cameroon’s Constitution, 1960 – 2008. The country Cameroon has had six (6) constitutional amendments. Africaninfolook.com gives a comparative review of the constitutional evolution of Cameroon.
The first constitution was adopted in 1960 after French Cameroon got independence from France. In 1959, France agreed to grant independence to its colony Cameroun and set a date of 1 January 1960 as the date the new nation would become independent. The original Constitution was hurriedly drafted in 1959 to meet this deadline. The framers based many provisions, such as those outlining the powers of the president, on French models. The Constitution went into effect on 1 January 1960. Under it, Cameroon was defined as a unitary state with a one-house parliament.
The second constitution was that of 1961 when British Southern Cameroons gained its independence and voted to join its French counterpart. Delegates met in the Historic town of Fumban and framed a new Constitution, which made Cameroon a federation of two states equal in status under a single powerful president.
The third was adopted in 1972 after President Ahmadou Ahidjo forced through a new document that abolished the federal system (the birth of the Anglophone problem), renamed the country the United Republic of Cameroon, and granted the president greater powers.
The fourth constitution saw its light in 1984 when the country’s second and current president Paul Biya succeeded to push through a revised Constitution through Law No 84-1 of 4 February 1984. This document changed the country’s name to the Republic of Cameroon (the birth of separatist ideology), redrew the lines of the provinces and redefined the line of succession to the presidency.
The 1984 constitution is viewed as the most controversial constitution of Cameroon as it is maintained to have sparked up separation movements among English speaking Cameroonians who now claim they are being recolonized by another African country, La Republique du Cameroon which gained its independence in 1960.
The fifth and current constitution was adopted in 1996 in response to pressure from Anglophone Cameroonian groups advocating a return to the federal system. It grants greater autonomy to the provinces (renamed regions) and established a senate as the upper house to the National Assembly.
The last changes to the constitution were made On 10 April 2008, when the National Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill to amend Law 96/06 to change the Constitution to provide the president with immunity from prosecution for acts as president and to allow the chief executive to run for unlimited re-elections. The vote took place after the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) representatives walked out of the assembly, and just one month after the country experienced widespread anti-government resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of demonstrators arrested for protesting price rises and the proposed constitutional changes