Effective Decentralization: A sustainable solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?

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Theme: Effective Decentralization: A sustainable solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?

Date: 17 September 2020 / Time: 3pm (Cameroon time)/ Duration: 90 minutes
Organizer: Nkafu Policy Institute, Think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia foundation.

Background  

The history of the modern state of Cameroon is replete with a number of constitutional issues, some of which could be argued to be geared towards stabilizing the country by promoting the peaceful co-existence of Cameroonians be they Anglophones or Francophones). One of these constitutional issues is the adoption of the 1996 Constitution which made Cameroon a decentralized unitary state. By this 1996 constitution, the political leadership thought that this will bring the government closer to the local population so that they can actively participate in their own individual and community development. Indeed, Article 55 of the constitution, stipulates that the  State will devolve upon regional and local authorities, under conditions laid down by the Law, powers over matters essential to their economic, social, health, educational, cultural and sports development in Cameroon. In this way, it is assumed by proponents of decentralization that citizens will be economically and socially empowered.

However, since the adoption of this constitution in 1996 which clearly gave provisions for decentralization, it was not until 2004 that the three main laws on decentralization were adopted. The stakes behind these three laws on decentralization are quite high as the decentralisation process forms part of the national policy on democratisation and state modernisation. The piece of legislation that emphasises the democratic governance dimension of decentralization is contained in Law No. 2004/017 of 22 July 2004 on the orientation of decentralisation.  Section 2 (1) states that decentralization shall consist of devolution, by the State, of special powers, and appropriate resources to regional and local authorities and section 2 (2) stipulates that decentralisation shall constitute the basic driving force for the promotion of development, democracy and good governance at the local level.  It is therefore, clear that the 2004 decentralization law has the promotion of local development, democracy and governance as its main impetus.

However, even after 2004 up till date, many political and governance experts still think that the decentralization process in the country remains a government’s lip service venture with no realities on the ground. To them, the outburst of the Anglophone crisis, which has been going on for almost four years now, would not have erupted in the first place if the decentralization process was effectively implemented. As a mater fact, today, the government more  seriously considers  the decentralisation’ strategy and process as a major way forward to help  address the current problems caused by increased complexity of governance, growing demands for local empowerment, intractable problems of local democracy ethno-regional conflicts and development etc.  This is evident in the Head of State, H.E. President Biya’s New Year 2018 speech to the nation advocating for effective and efficient decentralization. In his words:

 My dear compatriots my conviction that our fellow citizens desire greater participation in managing their affairs, especially at the local level, has been strengthened by the consultations I have held and the many opinions and suggestions I have received. In this regard, it is my firm belief that fast-tracking our decentralization process will enhance the development of our Regions. To that end, I have ordered the implementation of the necessary measures to speedily give effect to this major reform…

Moreover, one of the key resolutions from the Major National Dialogue that took place from September 30 to October 4, 2019 with the aim of looking for a peaceful and sustainable solution to the ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon, was the proposal for a “special status” for the two conflict-affected regions due to their cultural and linguistic specifities. This subsequently led to the adoption by parliament of the Decentralisation Code of Regional and Local Authorities (Law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019). Nevertheless, debates have continued till date over the role of decentralization in restoring peace and security especially in the restive Anglophone regions of the country.

It is within this framework that the Nkafu Policy Institute is creating avenues to encourage greater public participation in debates and discussions on the effectiveness of decentralization in bringing about the much needed peace and normalcy in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of the country.

Objective of the event

The objective of this event is to engage scholars, youth leaders and the public on discussions and debates on how and to the extent to which effective decentralization can contribute to sustainable peace in the NW and SW regions in particular and Cameroon as a whole.

This is in line with the mission of the NKAFU Policy Institute, a Think Tank of the Denis and Lenora FORETIA Foundation, which pivots around carrying out independent research to provide in-depth and insightful evidence-based policy recommendations that advance the development of Cameroon and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

Who should participate?

This event is open to the general public both within and out of Cameroon. As such it aims to bring together  participants from the public, private and civil society sectors, including youth leaders, journalists, researchers, displaced persons, traditional authorities, and scholars who have the potential to propose strategies to resolve the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon.

 Participation fees?

No participation fee is required. However, all participants are required to register online free of charge on our website by clicking the registration button below.

Thematic focus areas of the Public Dialogue

During the event, there will be presentations on Decentralization trajectories in Cameroon in terms of prospects for peace and development, stakes and challenges and the various possible strategies to contribute to the effective implementation of the decentralization policy as a governmental mechanism to achieving sustainable local development and peace and in the country.  The event will consist of a 90 minutes’ open discussion.

The discussions will be organized around the following key thematic focus areas

  • Decentralization in Cameroon.
  • Overview of the Decentralization process in Cameroon
  • Stakes and challenges of the Decentralization process in Cameroon
  • Effective decentralization as an effective governmental mechanism to peacefully resolving the existing Anglophone crisis  and contributing to sustainable peace in the NW and SW regions in Particular and Cameroon  as a whole.

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