March 28, 2012
Praying For Mandate Extension
Following the decision by the authorities to do fresh voter registration, talk is rife that the parliamentary and municipal elections that were expected to take place next July will be postponed.
Although one organisation, iplans, recently demonstrated that it could register nine million voters in three weeks, some political parties have continued to call for the postponement of the elections, arguing that the various stakeholders need time to overhaul the electoral process and put things in the right perspective.
Many MPs, especially those who are skeptical about pinching another mandate, have welcomed every idea mooted for a possible extension of their mandate. As time narrows down, to that eventful period, many of them are gripped by the spectre of a scene where both, the political and the pecuniary powers, will leave them.
They may now heave a sigh of relief following news, that a bill to extend their mandate is now lying in the drawers of the National Assembly. A source who claimed to have seen the draft law, told The Post that the mandate of the current legislature will be extended for six months. The constitution provides for such an extension, even though it is silent as to how long such a prolongation can be. Article 15(4) of the fundamental law is very clear on this.
It reads as follows: “In case of serious crisis or where circumstances so warrant, the President of the Republic may, after consultation with the President of the Constitutional Council and Bureaus of the National Assembly and the Senate, request the National Assembly to decide, by law, to extend or abridge its term of office. In this case, the election of a new National Assembly shall take place not less than 40 days and not more than 120 days following the expiry of the extension or the abridgement period”.
An aching phenomenon that has been ailing the Ngoa-Ekelle Glass House for years, is the tabling of very important bills at the tail end of a session. Observers hold that bills that are tabled in such circumstances, receive little attention and thus, little scrutiny. The SDF Parliamentary Group, which the masses looked up to for salvation of sorts, used to organise press conferences to condemn such delays.
But now, the very group that used to give debates at the National Assembly an aura of effervescence has gone comatose. A political pundit recently explained the SDF Parliamentary Group’s docile attitude in a sarcastic French adage that says: “Silence on mange” or “la bouche qui mange ne parle pas”, an insinuation that nobody talks with food in his mouth.
For quite some time now, each session of the National Assembly is followed by an extraordinary session. But what is really enigmatic is that, whenever a parliamentary session begins, MPs dilly-dally to end, doing virtually nothing, only for the authorities to convene an extraordinary session.
Opposition MPs who used to condemn these undue delays are now mute, apparently due to the pecuniary gains that come with extraordinary sessions nowadays. The Post learnt that, whether an extraordinary session lasts only for one or two days, each MP bags his or her allowance of FCFA 1.2 million. This is where the power of the pocket has had reason to reign.
Apart from the election of the bureau of the National Assembly, no serious business has taken place in the house, even though talk is rife that Government is prepared to table a bill that borders on the harmonisation of the electoral code. That is why many MPs are said to be praying and even fasting for another extraordinary session to be convened. That means more money.
Glory Be to Biya
Many conservative opposition militants are yet to recover from the encomiums that the SDF MP for Momo constituency, Hon. P.C Fonso, poured on President Paul Biya when he chaired the opening session of the House on March 6, in his capacity as the eldest MP. In a dramatic turn, the septuagenarian allowed himself go in what political commentators described as an “Iscariot panegyric” for Biya.
Given that the SDF Party rejected the last presidential poll, including Biya’a victory, observers say P.C Fonso’s utterances were tantamount to denying his master, Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi, ten times. The SDF MP did not only recognise President Biya’s victory, but also went ahead and called on all Cameroonians to support Biya’s “great accomplishments policy”.
There has been a lot of tongue-wagging within the SDF party on what is now known as the Fonso betrayal. Although the MP refused to tell the press how much he was paid as he called the shots as the eldest MP, sources from the financial service of the National Assembly told The Post that he received FCFA 750.000, excluding petrol allowance. He was also given a luxurious car for the moment and lodged at the VIP Suit at the Yaounde Mont Febe Hotel.
Other sources say the MP was paid millions during this period. It would be recalled that before press reports raised an alarm, the authorities of the National Assembly used to send PC Fonso on mission out of the country, each time it was time for the eldest MP to preside over the house. And as this happened, Hon. Joseph Mboui of the CPDM, would perform his functions as the eldest MP of the House.
First Published in The Post print edition (No. 1330)
Article source Cameroon Post Online, posted on The Cameroon News under Cameroon Politics News