Thursday, April 22, 2010

Opposition MP Presides Over Parliament for the First Time

After two years of dribbling. For the first time since the inception of multiparty politics in Cameroon, an opposition MP presided over the Cameroon Parliament. Hon P.C. Fonso, the oldest MP, had rightly deserved this privilege but each time Parliament was to open he was sent on mission, to avoid him presiding.

This time around he refused going on mission and was grudgingly allowed to preside over the first ordinary session for the 2010 legislative which opened at the National Assembly recently. He was assisted by two youngest MPs Hon Andre Djoume and Ajoudi Amadou.

According to Art 9.4 of the standing orders of the National Assembly, the first session of each legislative year is chaired by the eldest member of the house who is assisted by the two youngest. The temporary bureau has to remain in place until a permanent bureau is elected.

For the past two years since the beginning of the present mandate of the MPs, opening sessions have been chaired by Hon. Joseph Mboui who was considered to be the eldest member of the house.

This year, things have not been the same as the SDF Members of Parliament did not leave any stone unturned to see their colleague Hon. PC Fonso who is the eldest preside over the opening. Speaking while presiding over the opening session, Hon PC Fonso praised the Almighty for giving him long life to be the eldest at the National Assembly.

He commented that 50 years in the life of an individual represents maturity hence Cameroon is bracing up celebrating maturity when it shall be celebrating 50 years in the months ahead.

Though promising that MPs will not be left out in celebrations marking this anniversary, Hon PC Fonso said Cameroon did not gain independence on the 20th of May but on the 1st of October 1961, hence the 50th anniversary of the re-unification of Cameroon will be on the 1st of October 2011 not 20th May 2010.

To the new scribe of the house, the eldest member pledged total confidence of the house and on behalf of the whole house congratulated him for his appointment as Secretary General of the house.

While expressing condolences to the people of Haiti, the eldest MP hailed the decision by the government of Cameroon through the President of the Republic, Paul Biya to disburse the sum of FCFA 500 million as financial assistance to Haiti, following the earthquake disaster that claimed some 300,000 lives recently.

Though Fonso’s age was not made known to the press, information from the 4th floor of the National Assembly (SDF Floor) say Fonso is two years older than Joseph Mboui.

News in the News

Perhaps what might have caught the attention of MPs and visitors was the fact that when the Prime Minister and Head of government made his entry into the hemi-cycle, all ministers stoop up to welcome him except Marafa Hamidou Yaya of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation.

Even when the PM was shaking hands with the cabinet ministers who were present, he did not shake hands with Marafa. Another side attraction that also caught the attention of this reporter is when he saw Hon Cavaye Yeguie Djibril walking alone. Not even a bodyguard or a companion, something which hitherto could not be so.

As this reporter then left the banquette hall to find his way out to the news room, he saw Hon. PC Fonso entering into a state car with bodyguards and many protocol officers all around him.

Reactions

Talking to The Vanguard a few minutes after the opening session, the eldest MP said “this was my finest moment since I entered the National Assembly on the 17th of May 1997”. He added that all what he said in his opening speech are things Cameroonians are expecting to hear and see it done.

While refusing allegations that he was bribed two years ago to go for a mission, Fonso said it is time they forget about the past and think about the future. He reiterated that there is still confusion on the date of the reunification of Cameroon reason why he insisted in his speech that Cameroon gained independence on 1st of October not 20th May.

Meantime, the CPDM MP for Bamusso in Ndian Division, Hon Naseli Emmanuel, told this reporter that he was very enriched with the eldest colleague’s opening speech. “He advised us MPs and Cameroonians of all works of life to be loyal and duty conscious”. On whether the fact that the opening was presided over by SDF’s PC Fonso was an embarrassment, Hon Naseli said “no it was just a mistake for the past two years and it has been rectified, all of us are happy” Hon Naseli ended.

On his part Hon Mbah Ndam of the SDF was optimistic that the rectification of the age of his colleague is the beginning of many good things. He said “my impressions are good for one thing, the mistake that has been corrected. Since the beginning of this mandate, there have been some manoeuvres and the opening sessions have been presided at by someone who is two years younger than the eldest,” Mbah Ndam said.

He however said his expectations of this year are that the disfunctioning that has been looming over ELECAM be corrected because we are at the dawn of the 2011 presidential elections.

By NDI Eugene NDI

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