Cameroon can't ratify Union Act before June 2001

Yaounde- Cameroon (PANA) -- After missing the March session, a bill proposing Cameroon's ratification of the African Union act is most likely to be tabled before Parliament in June, observers in Yoaunde reckon.
The Union, whose constitutional act has to date been ratified by 37 African States, has been at the centre of political debate in Cameroon for months.
President Paul Biya, who left last July's OAU summit without signing the act, came under scathing opposition attack upon his return home by his opposition.
The civil society and local press have also been very vocal in their support for the Union initiative, and have since indicted the Biya regime as among the African governments backed by France to torpedo an initiative that "might undermine French interests in Africa.
" And in what looked a bid to make amends, the Cameroonian President last 19 January took advantage of a joint press conference with his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, to assert that there was no doubt as to his country's commitment to the ideal of continental unity ideal.
"We shall sign the act," Biya told Journalists, adding nonetheless "but since we should be frank with one another, I would not conceal from you that there were minor reservations which prevented us from doing so in Lome.
" President Biya alluded to the "principle of the law of unanimity" which he said he advocated in vain "for the decision-making process," instead of the two-thirds majority rule.
"In spite of all this, we will sign," he reiterated days after a member of the Libyan government came inquiring in Yaounde about Cameroon's position.
Referring to his political opponents who accuse him of giving more importance to his "allegiance with Europe" than to "the indispensable solidarity with African brothers and their search for dignity," President Biya argued that there was "no antinomy in consultations between France and Africa or between Europe and the African Union.
" The host of the Africa-France Summit said he was fully aware of "his compatriot's attachment to the Pan-African project," adding that the African Union goes beyond Cameroon and was in fact "a project dear to all the peoples of the continent.
" At the Sirte, Libya extraordinary OAU summit in March Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge represented Cameroon and registered Yaounde among the 53 African countries that signed the consensual document composed of 34 articles.
In view of the fact that Cameroon is among the last 16 States not to have ratified the act, both the opposition and many Cameroonians expect the government to "respect its commitments all the way.
" President Biya had however said, during his press conference, that the government "can only transmit the text to Parliament.
" "As far as its ratification is concerned, I must say that the Cameroonian National Assembly should authorise me to do so," he said.
Critics insist, however, that for this to happen, the text would have to be submitted in time.

20 april 2001 19:46:00

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