Calls for early presidential election: UDP Chairman says ploy by overzealous CPDM officials to ridicule Biya.

Outspoken opposition politician and National Chairman of United Democratic Party, UDP, El Hadj Bochong Lawan Bako, has lashed out at those he describes as zealots of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM party, for fronting calls for early presidential elections in Cameroon.

The veteran politician and Spokesperson of the Presidential Majority says he considers such calls from CPDM supporters “as a sinister ploy to induce the President of the Republic into error”. 

El Hadj Lawan Bako made the pronouncement in a recent interview with pressmen.

His outing follows calls made by CPDM party officials and supporters in the North West Region, for anticipated presidential election.

North West CPDM officials used the party’s 39th anniversary celebration, to make the calls. 

Reacting to what he qualifies as hypocritic calls, the UDP Chairman said: “In my capacity as Chairman of the United Democratic Party, I consider these calls as a sinister ploy to induce the President of the Republic into error,” he stated. 

The opposition politician said convening early presidential election is “an act that can invoke Article 53 of the constitution of Cameroon against the President of the Republic”. 

El Hadj Lawan Bako went on to cite Article 6: (1) (2) (3) (4) of the constitution that clearly states that the election of the President of the Republic “shall be held not less than 20 (twenty) days and not more than 50 (fifty) days before the expiry of term of the President of the Republic in office." 

He further cited the constitution which adds that in the case of a vacancy as a result of death, resignation or permanent incapacity, duly ascertained by the Constitutional Council, “the polls for 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".

Considered as the doyen of North West politics, El Hadj Lawan Bako was categorical that in respect of the aforementioned, “any anticipated presidential election must lead to an amendment of the Cameroon constitution”. 

Such a move to review the constitution, if it must be engaged, he said, “will provoke unhealthy debates”, especially if the amendment is going to touch only on one point.

This, he said, is because “many Cameroonians and the international community have been calling for the amendment of the constitution to include a two-round ballot, among others”. 

El Hadj Lawan Bako was clear that the Head of State can only, as per the laws, anticipate or postpone the Legislative and Municipal elections.

Extending or abridging the terms of office for MPs and councillors, he quickly added, can only be done by the President, “after consultations with the President of the Constitutional Council and the Bureaus of the National Assembly and the Senate”.

He said such can only be done in “case of serious crisis or where circumstances so warrant", as stated in Article 15 (4) of the constitution. 

Putting the upcoming polls in context, El Hadj Lawan Bako said the fact Legislative and Municipal elections took place in 2020, while the Anglophone crisis was on course will make it difficult for the next election calendar to be altered. 

“Hence MPs and councillors cannot have their mandates or terms of office extended or abridged this time around,” he stated. 

The call for anticipated presidential elections is said to have emanated from the Secretary General of the CPDM Central Committee, Jean Nkuete.

The call was echoed by CPDM party officials of the North West Region, during celebrations of the party’s 39th anniversary, on March 24, 2024 in Bamenda. 

Such calls, it should be said, were recently condemned by opposition politician and National President of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, MRC party, Prof Maurice Kamto.

He had also hinted that the CPDM regime is already hatching a ploy to reverse the electoral calendar to its favour, ahead of upcoming polls. 

Kamto was unequivocal that any attempts by government to reverse the electoral calendar and hold the Presidential Election before the Legislative, Municipal and Regional Council elections in 2025, will be in total violation of the laws of the land.

Kamto had said such maneuvers to first hold the Presidential Election before local elections “will taint the legitimacy of these institutions and will be profoundly undemocratic”. 

The opposition politician had also argued that reversing the electoral calendar “will be a concrete expression of the panic that has gripped the CPDM regime”.

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