Freedom in the World
In 2010, President Paul Biya strengthened his political influence through a cabinet reshuffle, and the government took additional steps to assert control over the electoral commission. Opposition parties continued to be marginalized and members of the press were incarcerated, leading to the death of one journalist in prison due to lack of medical care. The government increased its efforts to reduce misuse of public funds through an anticorruption campaign, though arrests under the initiative in 2010 were seen by many as politically motivated. Despite health concerns, Biya was expected to run for reelection in 2011.
Cameroon is not an electoral democracy. Although the 1996 constitutional revisions created an upper chamber for the legislature, a decentralized system of regional government, and a Constitutional Court, none of these provisions have been implemented. A 2008 constitutional amendment removed the 1996 limit of two seven-year terms for the president, allowing President Paul Biya to run again in 2011. The president is not required to consult the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court may review the constitutionality of a law only at the president’s request. Since 1992, the executive has initiated every bill passed by the legislature. The unicameral National Assembly has 180 seats, 153 of which are held by the CPDM. Members are elected by direct popular vote for five-year terms.