One of the key resolutions of the Major National Dialogue that held in Yaoundé from 30th September to 4th October 2019 is the granting of a special status to the North-West and South-West Regions, in conformity with Section 62 Sub 2 of the Constitution on autonomous regions with special status.
The constitution stipulates in Article 62, paragraph (2) that “Without prejudice to the provisions of this Part, the law may take into consideration the specificities of certain Regions with regard to their organization and functioning.”
According to Minister Gregoire Owona, who is a constitutionalist, the special status implies that the two English speaking regions are placed under the general regime of the state but are given other prerogatives because of their unique Anglo-Saxon heritage. He says that the constitution has already provided for the special status.
On his part, David Abouem Achoye, one time Governor of both regions, says what is important is not the name but the need to bring the administration closer to the people and make them responsible for their development.
The North West and South West regions inherited the British colonial system of indirect rule as well as the English language and the common law system; a decentralised form of governance that empowered local communities to carry out their own development.
Cameroon is not the first country in the world to have autonomous regions; in Canada the region of Quebec enjoys special status.
Special status was used since the 1960’s in Quebec so that its distinct culture could be protected and developed while continuing to be part of the Canadian federal system.
In Italy, Article 116 of the Constitution grants some legislative, administrative and financial power to a varying extent, depending on their specific statute to five regions including: Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino – Alto Adige/Südtirol, Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The special status sought to take into account cultural differences and protect linguistic minorities and to prevent their secession from Italy after the Second World War.
In the above mentioned cases, the legislature protected the rights of the minority groups, their education, legal system as well as the language specificities.