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Constitution of Cameroon (1972, rev. 2008)

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3Preamble

4We, the people of Cameroon,

5Proud of our linguistic and cultural diversity, an enriching feature of our national identity, but profoundly aware of the imperative need to further consolidate our unity, solemnly declare that we constitute one and the same Nation, bound by the same destiny, and assert our firm determination to build the Cameroonian Fatherland on the basis of the ideals of fraternity, justice and progress;

6Jealous of our hard-won independence and resolved to preserve same; convinced that the salvation of Africa lies in forging ever-growing bonds of solidarity among African Peoples, affirm our desire to contribute to the advent of a united and free Africa, while maintaining peaceful and brotherly relations with the other nations of the World, in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

7Resolved to harness our natural resources in order to ensure the well-being of every citizen without discrimination, by raising living standards, proclaim our right to development as well as our determination to devote all our efforts to that end and declare our readiness to cooperate with all States desirous of participating in this national endeavour with due respect for our sovereignty and the independence of the Cameroonian State.

8We, the people of Cameroon,

9Declare that the human person, without distinction as to race, religion, sex or belief, possesses inalienable and sacred rights;

10Affirm our attachment to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of United Nations and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and all duly ratified international conventions relating thereto, in particular, to the following principles:

11 1.all persons shall have equal rights and obligations. The State shall provide all its citizens with the conditions necessary for their development;

12 2.the State shall ensure the protection of minorities and shall preserve the rights of indigenous populations in accordance with the law;

13 3.freedom and security shall be guaranteed each individual, subject to respect for the rights of others and the higher interests of the State;

14 4.every person shall have the right to settle in any place and to move about freely, subject to the statutory provisions concerning public law and order, security and tranquillity;

15 5.the home is inviolate. No search may be conducted except by virtue of the law;

16 6.the privacy of all correspondence is inviolate. No interference may be allowed except by virtue of decisions emanating from the Judicial power;

17 7.no person may be compelled to do what the law does not prescribe;

18 8.no person may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases and according to the manner determined by law;

19 9.the law may not have retrospective effect. No person may be judged and punished, except by virtue of a law enacted and published before the offence was committed;

20 10.the law shall ensure the right of every person to a fair hearing before the courts;

21 11.every accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty during a hearing conducted in strict compliance with the rights of defence;

22 12.every person has a right to life, to physical and moral integrity and to humane treatment in all circumstances. Under no circumstances shall any person be subjected to torture, to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment;

23 13.no person shall be harassed on grounds of his origin, religious, philosophical or political opinions or beliefs, subject to respect for public policy;

24 14.the state shall be secular. The neutrality and independence of the State in respect of all religions shall be guaranteed;

25 15.freedom of religion and worship shall be guaranteed;

26 16.the freedom of communication, of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association, and of trade unionism, as well as the right to strike shall be guaranteed under the conditions fixed by law;

27 17.the Nation shall protect and promote the family which is the natural foundation of human society. It shall protect women, the young, the elderly and the disabled;

28 18.the State shall guarantee the child's right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory. The organization and supervision of education at all levels shall be the bounden duty of the State;

29 19.ownership shall mean the right guaranteed every person by law to use, enjoy and dispose of property. No person shall be deprived thereof, save for public purposes and subject to the payment of compensation under conditions determined by law;

30 20.the right of ownership may not be exercised in violation of the public interest or in such a way as to be prejudicial to the security, freedom, existence or property of other persons;

31 21.every person shall have a right to a healthy environment. The protection of the environment shall be the duty of every citizen. The State shall ensure the protection and improvement of the environment;

32 22.every person shall have the right and the obligation to work;

33 23.every person shall share in the burden of public expenditure according to his financial resources;

34 24.all citizens shall contribute to the defence of the Fatherland;

35 25.the State shall guarantee all citizens of either sex the rights and freedoms set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution.

36PART I. THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY

37Article 1

381. The United Republic of Cameroon shall, with effect from the date of entry into force of this law, be known as Republic of Cameroon (Law No 84-1 of February 4, 1984).

392. The Republic of Cameroon shall be a decentralized unitary State. It shall be one and indivisible, secular, democratic and dedicated to social service. It shall recognize and protect traditional values that conform to democratic principles, human rights and the law. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law.

403. The Official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The State shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. It shall endeavour to protect and promote national languages.

414. Its motto shall be "Peace - Work - Fatherland".

425. Its flag shall be three equal vertical stripes of green, red and yellow charged with one gold star in the centre of the red stripe.

436. Its national anthem shall be "O Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers".

447. The seal of the Republic of Cameroon shall be a circular medallion in bas-relief, 46 millimetres in diameter, bearing on the obverse and in the centre the head of a girl in profile turned to the dexter towards a coffee branch with two leaves and flanked on the sinister by five cocoa pods, with the French words "Republique du Cameroun" inscribed below the upper edge and the national motto "Paix - Travail - Patrie" inscribed above the lower edge; on the reverse and in the center the coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon, with the English words "Republic of Cameroon" inscribed beneath the upper edge and the national motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland" inscribed above the lower edge.

45The coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon shall be an escutcheon surmounted chief by the legend "Republic of Cameroon" and supported by two crossed fasces with the motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland" base.

46The escutcheon shall be composed of a star on a field vent and triangle gules, charged with the geographical outline of Cameroon azure, and surcharged the sword and scales of justice sable.

478. The Capital of the Republic of Cameroon shall be Yaounde.

48Article 2

491. National sovereignty shall be vested in the people of Cameroon who shall exercise same either through the President of the Republic and Members of Parliament or by way of referendum. No section of the people or any individual shall arrogate to itself or to himself the exercise thereof.

502. The authorities responsible for the management of the state shall derive their powers from the people through election by direct or indirect universal suffrage, unless otherwise provided for in this Constitution.

513. The vote shall be equal and secret, and every citizen aged twenty years and above shall be entitled to vote.

52Article 3

53Political parties and groups shall help the electorate in the making of voting decisions. They shall be bound to respect the principles of democracy, national sovereignty and unity. They shall be formed and shall exercise their activities in accordance with the law.

54Article 4

55State power shall be exercised by:

56 the President of the Republic;

57 Parliament.

58PART II. EXECUTIVE POWER

59Chapter I. The President of the Republic

60Article 5

611. The President of the Republic shall be the Head of State.

622. Elected by the whole Nation, he shall be the symbol of national unity. He shall define the policy of the Nation. He shall ensure respect for the Constitution. He shall, through his arbitration, ensure the proper functioning of public authorities. He shall be the guarantor of the independence of the Nation and of its territorial integrity, of the permanency and continuity of the State and of the respect of international treaties and agreements.

63Article 6

641. The President of the Republic shall be elected by a majority of the votes cast through direct, equal and secret universal suffrage.

652. The President of the Republic shall be elected for a term of office of 7 (seven) years. He shall be eligible for re-election.

663. The election shall be held not less than 20 (twenty) days and not more than 50 (fifty) days before the expiry of the term of the President of the Republic in office.

674. Where the office of President of the Republic becomes vacant as a result of death, resignation or permanent incapacity duly ascertained by the Constitutional Council, the polls for the election of the new President of the Republic must be held not less than 20 (twenty) days and not more than 120 (one hundred and twenty) days after the office becomes vacant.

68a. The President of the Senate shall as of right act as interim President of the Republic until the new President of the Republic is elected. Where the President of the Senate is unable to exercise these powers, they shall be exercised by his Vice, following the order of precedence.

69b. The interim President of the Republic-the President of the Senate or his Vice-may neither amend the Constitution nor the composition of the Government. He may not organize a referendum or run for the office of President of the Republic.

70c. However, where the organization of the presidential election requires, the interim President of the Republic may, after consultation with the Constitutional Council, amend the composition of the government.

715. Candidates for the office of President of the Republic must be Cameroonian by birth, enjoy their civic and political rights and must have attained the age of 35 (thirty-five) by the date of the election.

726. The conditions for electing the President of the Republic shall be laid down by law.

73Article 7

741. The President-elect shall assume office once he has been sworn in.

752. He shall take the oath of office before the Cameroonian people, in the presence of the members of Parliament, the Constitutional council and the Supreme Court meeting in solemn session.

76He shall be sworn in by the President of the National Assembly.

773. The wording of the oath and the procedure for implementing the provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) above shall be laid down by law.

784. The office of President of the Republic shall be incompatible with any other elective public office or professional activity.

79Article 8

801. The President of the Republic shall represent the State in all acts of public life.

812. He shall be Head of the Armed Forces.

823. He shall ensure the internal and external security of the Republic.

834. He shall accredit ambassadors and envoys extraordinary to foreign powers. The ambassadors and envoys extraordinary of foreign powers shall be accredited to him.

845. The President of the Republic shall enact laws as provided for in Article 31 below.

856. The President of the Republic shall refer matters to the Constitutional Council under the conditions laid down by the Constitution.

867. He shall exercise the right of clemency, after consultation with the Higher Judicial Council.

878. He shall exercise statutory authority.

889. He shall set up and organize the administrative services of the State.

8910. He shall appoint to civil and military posts of the State.

9011. He shall confer the decorations and honorary distinctions of the Republic.

9112. The President of the Republic may, if necessary and after consultation with the Government, the Bureaux of the National Assembly and the Senate dissolve the National Assembly. The election of a new Assembly shall take place in accordance with the provisions of Article 15(4) below.

92Article 9

931. The President of the Republic may, where the circumstances so warrant, declare by decree a state of emergency which shall confer upon him such special powers as may be provided for by law.

942. In the event of a serious threat to the nation's territorial integrity or to its existence, its independence or institutions, the President of the Republic may declare a state of siege by decree and take any measures as he may deem necessary. He shall inform the Nation of his decision by message.

95Article 10

961. The President of the Republic shall appoint the Prime Minister and, on the proposal of the latter, the other members of Government.

97He shall define their duties. He shall terminate their appointment. He shall preside over the Council of Ministers.

982. The President of the Republic may delegate some of his powers to the Prime Minister, other members of Government and any other senior administrative officials of the State, within the framework of their respective duties.

993. Where the President of the Republic is temporarily unable to perform his duties, he shall delegate the Prime Minister and, should the latter also be unavailable, any other member of Government to discharge his duties within the framework of an express delegation of some of his powers.

100Chapter II. The Government

101Article 11

102The Government shall implement the policy of the Nation as defined by the President of the Republic.

103It shall be responsible to the National Assembly under the conditions and procedures provided for in Article 34 below.

104Article 12

1051. The Prime Minister shall be the Head of Government and shall direct its action.

1062. He shall be responsible for the enforcement of the laws.

1073. He shall exercise statutory authority and appoint to civil posts, subject to the prerogatives of the President of the Republic in such areas.

1084. He shall direct all the government services required for the accomplishment of his duties.

1095. He may delegate some of his powers to members of Government and to senior State officials.

110Article 13

111The office of member of Government and any office ranking as such shall be incompatible with that of member of Parliament, Chairman of the Executive or Assembly of a local or regional authority, leader of a national professional association, or with any other employment or professional activity.

112PART III. LEGISLATIVE POWER

113Article 14

1141. Legislative power shall be exercised by the Parliament which shall comprise 2 (two) Houses:

115 a.the National Assembly;

116 b.the Senate.

1172. Parliament shall legislate and control Government action.

1183. Both Houses of Parliament shall meet on the same dates:

119 a.in ordinary session during the months of March, June, and November each year, when convened by the Bureaux of the National Assembly and the Senate, after consultation with the President of the Republic;

120 b.in extraordinary session, at the request of the President of the Republic or of one-third of the members of both Houses.

121However, the Houses shall be convened simultaneously only if the business of the day concerns both of them.

1224. The two Houses of Parliament shall meet in congress at the request of the President of the Republic in order to:

123 be addressed by or receive a message from the of the Republic;

124 receive the oath of members of the Constitutional Council;

125 take a decision on a draft or proposed constitutional amendment. When Parliament meets in congress, the Bureau of the National Assembly shall preside over the proceedings.

1265. No person shall be member of both the National Assembly and the Senate.

1276. The conditions for the election of members of the National Assembly and of the Senate, as well as the immunities, ineligibilities, incompatibilities, allowances and privileges of the members of Parliament shall be determined by law.

128Chapter I. The National Assembly

129Article 15

1301. The National Assembly shall comprise 180 (one hundred and eighty) members elected by direct and secret universal suffrage for a five-year term of office.

131The number of members of the National Assembly may be modified by law.

1322. Each member of the National Assembly shall represent the entire Nation.

1333. Any imposed mandate shall be null and void.

1344. In case of serious crisis or where circumstances so warrant, the President the Republic may, after consultation with the President of the Constitutional Council and Bureaux 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 Assembly shall take place not less than 40 (forty) days and not more than 120 (one hundred and twenty) days following the expiry of the extension or abridgement period.

135Article 16

1361. At the beginning of each legislative year, the National Assembly shall meet as of right in ordinary session under the conditions laid down by law.

1372. Each year, the National Assembly shall hold 3 (three) ordinary sessions, each lasting not more than 30 (thirty) days.

138a. At the opening of its first ordinary session, the National Assembly shall elect its President and Bureau members.

139b. The National Assembly shall, during one of its sessions, adopt the State budget. Where such budget is not adopted before the end of the current financial year, the President of the Republic shall be empowered to extend the previous budget by one-twelfth until a new one is passed.

1403. The National Assembly shall meet in extraordinary session for not more than 15 (fifteen) days on a specific agenda and at the request of the President of the Republic or one-third of its members.

141The extraordinary session shall wind up as soon as the agenda for which it was convened is exhausted.

142Article 17

1431. Sittings of the National Assembly shall be public. Exceptionally, the National Assembly may hold sittings in camera at the request of the President of the Republic or of an absolute majority of its members.

1442. The National Assembly shall, in a law, draw up its standing orders.

145Article 18

1461. The agenda of the National Assembly shall be drawn up by the Chairmen's conference.

1472. The Chairmen's conference shall be composed of Presidents of Parliamentary Groups, Chairmen of Committees and members of the Bureau of the National Assembly. A member of Government shall participate in the conference meeting.

1483. Only bills falling within its area of jurisdiction by virtue of Article 26 below may be included in the agenda of the National Assembly.

149a. All private members' bills and amendments which, if passed, would result in the reduction of public funds or in an increase of public charges without a corresponding reduction in other expenditure or the grant of equivalent new supply of funds, shall be inadmissible.

150b. Any doubt or dispute on the admissibility of a bill shall be referred by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly or by one-third of the members of the National Assembly to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.

1514. The agenda shall give priority, and in the order decided by the Government, to the considerations of the government bills and private members' bills accepted by it. The other private members' bills admitted by the Chairmen's conference shall be considered subsequently.

152Where a private members' bill has not been considered during two successive ordinary sessions, it shall automatically be considered at the very next ordinary session.

1535. Any item on the agenda shall, at the request of the Government, be treated as a matter of urgency.

154Article 19

1551. Laws shall be passed by a simple majority of the members of the National Assembly.

1562. Bills submitted to the National Assembly for reconsideration by the Senate shall either be passed or rejected in accordance with Article 30 below.

1573. The President of the Republic may, before enacting any law, ask for a second reading. In such case, bills shall be passed by an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly.

158Chapter II. The Senate

159Article 20

1601. The Senate shall represent the regional and local authorities.

1612. Each region shall be represented in the Senate by 10 (ten) Senators of whom 7 (seven) shall be elected by indirect universal suffrage on a regional basis and 3 (three) appointed by the President of the Republic.

1623. Candidates for the post of Senator and personalities appointed to the post of Senator by the President of the Republic must have attained the age of 40 (forty) by the date of the election or appointment.

1634. Senators shall serve a term of 5 (five) years.

164Article 21

1651. At the beginning of each legislative year, the Senate shall meet as of right in ordinary session under the conditions laid down by law.

1662. Each year, the Senate shall hold 3 (three) ordinary sessions, each lasting not more than 30 (thirty) days.

1673. The Senate shall meet in extraordinary session for not more than 15 (fifteen) days on a specific agenda and at the request of the President of the Republic or of one-third of its members.

168The extraordinary session shall wind up as soon as the agenda for which it was convened is exhausted.

169Article 22

1701. Sittings of the Senate shall be public. Exceptionally, the Senate may hold sittings in camera at the request of the President of the Republic or of an absolute majority of its members.

1712. The Senate shall, in a law, draw up its standing orders.

172Article 23

1731. The agenda of the Senate shall be drawn up by the Chairmen's conference.

1742. The Chairmen's conference shall be composed of Presidents of Parliamentary Groups, Chairmen of Committees and members of the Bureau of the Senate. A member of Government shall participate in the conference meeting.

1753. Only bills falling within its area of jurisdiction by virtue of Article 26 below may be included in the agenda of Senate.

176a. All private members' bills and amendments which, if passed, would result in the reduction of public funds or in an increase of public charges without a corresponding reduction in other expenditure or the grant of equivalent new supply of funds, shall be inadmissible.

177b. Any doubt or dispute on the admissibility of a bill shall be referred by the President of the Republic, President of the Senate or one-third of the Senators to the Constitutional Council for a ruling.

1784. The agenda shall give priority, and in the order decided by the Government, to the consideration of the government bills and private members' bills accepted by it. The other private members' bills admitted by the Chairmen's conference shall be considered subsequently.

179Where a private members' bill has not been considered during two successive ordinary sessions, it shall automatically be considered at the very next ordinary session.

1805. Any item on the agenda shall, at the request of the Government, be treated as a matter of urgency.

181Article 24

1821. Laws shall be passed by a simple majority of the Senators.

1832. The Senate may amend or reject all or part of a bill submitted to it for consideration, in accordance with Article 30 below.

1843. The President of the Republic may, before enacting a law, ask for a second reading.

185In such case, bills shall be passed by an absolute majority of the Senators.

186PART IV. RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE AND THE LEGISLATIVE POWERS

187Article 25

188Bills may be tabled either by the President of the Republic or by members of Parliament.

189Article 26

1901. Bills shall be passed by Parliament.

1912. The following shall be reserved to the legislative power:

192 a.The fundamental rights, guarantees and obligations of the citizen:

193 1.safeguarding individual freedom and security;

194 2.the rules governing public freedoms;

195 3.labour legislation, trade union legislation, rules governing social security and insurance;

196 4.the duties and obligations of the citizen in respect of national defence requirements.

197 b.The status of persons and property Ownership system:

198 1.nationality, status of person, matrimonial system, succession and gifts;

199 2.rules governing civil and commercial obligations;

200 3.movable and immovable property ownership system.

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