Civil society and regime continuity in Cameroon: 1990-2013

At the beginning of the 1990s, Cameroon, like many African countries, was swept by Huntington’s “third wave of democratization”. One main characteristic of the democratization process in Africa was the birth of the civil society with associations which mushroomed in many African countries. They played important roles in some of these countries, notably in Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Congo, where they contributed in regime change. Curiously, in Cameroon, in spite of the existence of the civil society, no regime change has taken place. Instead, the regime has been strengthened as elections have been organized. The Head of State is serving the fifth term in office and his party, the Cameroon People Democratic Movement is overwhelmingly dominating the parliament. It is evident that the civil society has failed in changing the regime in Cameroon as there has been no alternation. What explains this failure of the civil society in Cameroon? This paper, through a keen analysis of the political process started in 1990, contends that, in Cameroon, the regime in power when the democratization process started, amalgamated the civil society with the opposition and cracked them down so fiercely that the civil society died. It resurrected thanks to a regulation that gave less leeway to the civil society to undertake actual politically-oriented actions. This new civil society is yet to gather enough courage and imagine new avenues and methods in order to contribute significantly towards a regime change in Cameroon alongside other segments of the Cameroonian society.


Mokam David . University of Ngaoundere .

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