Cameroon Election of Octogenarians to Top Posts Draws Mixed Reactions

VOA | There have been mixed reactions in Cameroon to 88-year-old President Paul Biya’s orders that his party-dominated upper and lower houses of Parliament reelect officials who are over 80 years old to top positions.

According to the central African state’s constitution, Marcel Niat Njifenji, the 87-year-old president of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, would take over and organize elections if Biya were to die.

Members of the National Assembly, the lower house of Cameroon’s Parliament Wednesday applauded as Cavaye Yegue Djibril was reelected speaker. The 81-year-old Cavaye said he appreciated Biya’s making his reelection possible.

Djibril said he is highly indebted to Biya for asking his ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, or CPDM, lawmakers to retain him in his position.

Djibril has been National Assembly speaker for 30 years. The lone candidate, he garnered 147 votes in the 180-seat body.

Many Cameroonians expected he would be replaced by a younger lawmaker. However, Biya summoned the 152 CPDM lawmakers together for an emergency meeting. CPDM Secretary General Jean Nkuete said Biya asked them to reelect Djibril.

Emmanuel Banmi, a CPDM lawmaker from the English-speaking North-West region said they obeyed instructions from their party hierarchy. He said Djibril has enough experience as National Assembly speaker.

“Cavaye Yeguie Djibril is doing his work. I want to commend his devotedness. We know we have difficulties; we have concerns of security. We need to move ahead. Let the government work hand-in-hand with the representatives of the people (National Assembly) to see that the security issue is collectively addressed with the collaboration of the people,” he said.

Banmi said he was optimistic Djibril will work in collaboration with the government to find solutions to youth unemployment and the several armed conflicts Cameroon is facing. He said priority will be given to assisting people affected by COVID-19 and stopping the spread of the pandemic.

Djibril is Cameroon’s third most powerful state political figure after Biya and Marcel Niat Njifenji, president of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament.

The 87-year-old Njifenji, who has been Senate president since the body was created in 2013, was reelected Wednesday with 85 votes in the 100-member chamber. The CPDM controls 63 of the 70 elected Senate seats. The other 30 members, appointed by Biya, are loyal to him.

Niat said he was also grateful to Biya for his reelection.

Twenty-six-year-old Nguenang Cosmas, member of Cameroon’s National Youth Council, an independent state body that discusses issues related to the well-being of youths, says octogenarians are keeping young people from leadership positions in Cameroon.

“How could we elect people at the head of the legislature who could barely walk. The president of the Senate, Marcel Niat Njifenji, could barely walk to the hall. [The] same goes for the president of the National Assembly. Where are we heading to? It beats my imagination why the same people have been ruling. It is not good. They should leave the younger generation to show what they are capable of doing. Does it mean that only the old can rule? It is not good at all,” Cosmas said.

Under Cameroon’s constitution, if Biya were to die, were to resign or become incapacitated, Njifenji would take power, although elections would have to be organized to elect a new president in 20 to 120 days.

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7 comments

  1. people to take cameroon to the grave…
    -Paul Biya and his gang of old people on diapers…
    What did Africa do to deserve such a punishment?..

    And educated people will still line up the streets and dance , singing song of prises that Biya is the best..
    We are really cursed.

  2. The damage these old men are doing to Cameroon will take approximately 150 years to repair. How can men with impaired reasoning lead a Country. As Mo Ibrahim puts it, “are they leading the country to its grave”? Oh Lord redeem Cameroon from all the sins the country committed and free the country from the hands of these old wicked men.

  3. Why should this surprise anyone? Isn’t this what we African patriots have been advocating against long before the Amba conflict, before the Boko Haram madness, before Kamto? Isn’t this what Cameroonians of Anglophone heritage had been decrying for years; the institutionalised nepotism, tribalism, corruption and deceit? The Southern Cameroonian stooge called a prime minister doesn’t rank in the top 3 echelon in the country. What else do you need to show as prove of a demonic francophonised government intently bent on eradicating everything Southern Cameroonian in that country? They had to rename the provinces to regions in keeping with French system of governance, they had to name Victoria Limbe, yet there is Rue Charles DeGaulle in Douala, public monuments of French soldiers in the cities.

  4. The simple truth about the re-elections, are to ban the ongoing Anglophone war from being
    discussed in senate / parliament.

    • You can not discuss a problem that does not exist. Let’s assumed it did exist and it is brought up and discussed do you think it will amount to anything. Honestly has anything ever come out from that parliament and implemented except that constitutional amendment that gave Biya an everlasting grip on power. I dare you to name it.
      The last time they said they had a national dialogue, what came out? I bet if you ask Dion Ngute (PM) he will not even remember the date.
      The place is so rotten that the people are immune to the smell. But they can not sit on the truth for ever. The truth is like the ass, you can sit on it for as long as you can but you are bound to stand up some day and we will all get to see it.