The Opening Book of Law No. 2019/24 of 24 December 2019 to institute the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities gives precise indications at the beginning of the instrument on its scope of application.
It reiterates the constitutional provisions that make Regions and Councils the local authorities of the Republic, specifying that they carry out their activities with respect for national unity, territorial integrity and the primacy of the State. The book stipulates that local authorities are of equal dignity and that none of them may establish or exercise supervision over another. It further explains that there can be no hierarchical relationship, either between local authorities or between their respective heads of executive.
Section 3 of this book states that the North-West and South-West Regions enjoy a special status based on their language specificity and historical heritage. The special status granted pursuant to Article 62(2) of the Constitution is reflected, in terms of decentralization, by specific features in the organization and functioning of these two regions. It should be pointed out that the formalization of this special status, the details of which are described in Book Four of the Code on the rules applicable to Regions, responds to a strong social demand from the populations of the regions concerned and even beyond, for the above-mentioned specificities to be taken into account in the legislative framework, considering the unitary and decentralized form of the State.
Indeed, the historical heritage in question could be traced back to the colonial period during which the former West Cameroon was placed under the mandate of the League of Nations, and then under the trusteeship of the United Nations Organization, with Great Britain as supervisory power. During the administration of this power, the system of administration known as indirect rule was practised in that part of Cameroon’s territory, whereby Great Britain allowed the local population to manage their internal affairs through their own institutions, under the supervision of an authority appointed by the power.
The language specificity stems from their historical heritage as English was the language used in this part of the country. This led to a mode of reasoning and a world view borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon model, which are elements that make the North-West and South-West Regions different from other regions.
One of the characteristics of the special status is also reflected in the respect of the peculiarities of the Anglophone education system, and the taking into account of the specificities of the Anglo-Saxon judicial system based on Common Law and whose content is specified by separate instruments, the corpus of which is not necessarily closely related to decentralization. This is the case for those governing education, as well as those dealing with judicial organization.
The Opening Book closes with an innovative provision in Section 4 which gives the possibility of granting special tax and economic incentives to certain regions, according to their context and using separate instruments.