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Part III Decentralisation, Local Government, and Constitutionalism, 13 Cameroon and the Anomalies of Decentralisation with a Centralist Mindset

Charles M. Fombad

From: Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa

Edited By: Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 15 June 2021

This chapter focuses on the process of decentralisation in Cameroon. With the possible exception of the 2005 constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Cameroonian constitution of 1996 contains one of the most elaborate provisions on decentralisation in any Francophone or civil law-style constitution in Africa. To this day, Cameroon offers an ideal laboratory not only for testing how harmoniously two divergent inherited colonial cultures, languages, and outlooks cohabit with each other, but also for examining the extent to which the continent’s present and future decentralisation efforts can develop outside the ‘colonial mindset-box’. In many respects, Cameroon exemplifies the paradoxes of decentralisation in Africa and the harmful impact it can have on constitutionalism if it is not designed to engage fully with a country's problems. What makes the Cameroonian experience distinctive is that the principle of a ‘decentralised unitary state’ is constructed around a political rhetoric of ‘unity in diversity’, ‘bilingualism’, and ‘biculturalism’.

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