Editorial: 2025 elections; Parliament shouldn't pass buck to Constitutional Council.

Group photo after Florence Rita Arrey's oath taking ceremony

With her left hand on the constitution and her right hand raised towards the national flag, Florence Rita Arrey swore to “fulfill her functions well and faithfully”. 

But also to “exercise them with complete impartiality while respecting the constitution…”

Rt Hon Cavaye said she "is a source of pride for Cameroon. Indeed, the only woman and pioneer among the 11 members of the Constitutional Council. She is a super scale magistrate with proven professionalism. Your designation yesterday and that of today comes from your personal merits. You will have to do everything possible to always deserve this very high trust from the Head of State, Paul Biya”.

Hon Cavaye Yeguie Djribril reminded Justice Arrey Florence of her strategic role in enhancing democracy and the rule of law in the country.

He urged her to ensure the regularity of Parliamentary and Legislative elections, the ruling of matters within her jurisdiction and handling of matters that deal with the constitutionality of laws.

Cavaye also enjoined Justice Florence Arrey to uphold the confidentiality of deliberations and voting, not to take any public stance and to provide consultations on matters, among others.

“Integrity and competence are what the law recommends to you. You are the pride of your fellow citizens in general and of your sisters in particular. So, be their worthy ambassador. Congratulations and successful mandate,” added the President of the Congress of Parliament.

Parliamentarians and Senators, who were present at the swearing in ritual, witnessed by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute, his ministers and members of the diplomatic corps, should know that they have the responsibility and legal duty to ensure the progress of democracy.

For example, there are allegations that the cost of national identity cards, raised from 2,800 FCFA to 15,000 FCFA, is intended to disenfranchise voters, given that massive registration would not favour the ruling party. Isn't it the role of lawmakers to reject that increase?

Other speculations are rife that some elections will be postponed. Will it not also be the duty of lawmakers to reject such postponements, if tabled before them, or they will just rubber-stamp every bit of legislation that is sent to them?     

It is when lawmakers dance to the music of the executive like their counterparts did in Senegal early this year that the Constitutional Council is called to decide. 

The Senegalese Constitutional Council had declared the law postponing the country’s presidential poll to December “unconstitutional” and annulled a decree by then President, Macky Sall.

Macky Sall, who was then incumbent president, had announced the indefinite suspension of the presidential election, citing a dispute over the candidate list and alleged corruption of constitutional judges.

The National Assembly then passed a bill postponing the vote, but the Constitutional Council ruled against the president and lawmakers on grounds that the postponement was “contrary to the country’s constitution”.

As observed during Justice Florence Arrey's swearing-in, she placed her hand on the constitution and stared at the national flag. 

That was the ritual performed by all of her colleagues, who had taken their oath earlier. It is an indication that their allegiance is to the nation, not to an individual.

The Guardian Post hopes that even if lawmakers have to be subservient to their party hierarchy and pass the buck to the Constitutional Council, they should perform their duties according to their consciences and nothing but the law.

In that fidelity to the law, they should, like their Senegalese counterparts, reject any legislation meant to postpone any election, come 2025.

In that neutrality governed by the law, they will be ameliorating the country's democratisation process through fair, free and transparent elections.



This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue N0: 3158 of Thursday July 4, 2024


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