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NEW APTITUDES FOR NEW TERRITORIALPOLICIES AND YET A CHALLENGE TO OVERCOMEDecentralization brings, through a new vision of land, a new breath and new territorial policies. But these developments are a source of com- plexity. Therefore, the Government of Cameroon wishes to anticipate this complexity in the decen- tralization laws so that the Cameroon people know clearly what services are referred to the State and what are referred to their local authori- ties and; so that the elected local authority knows which the limits of their respective areas of exper- tise are.Indeed, the 1996 Constitution, in its article 55, states that "regional and local authorities have the mission to promote the economic, social, health, educational, cultural and sports development." It was not to divide between communities, blocks of homogeneous skills but the approach consis- ted in a subtle split.The proposed system is clear, orderly, and res- pects the principle of subsidiarity, that is to say, the exercise of a power to the most appropriate territorial level. An example can be the promotion of National languages exercised at the regional level, Civil Status at the municipality level. A concept of "communal, community or regional interest" is also introduced to circumscribe the scope of intervention of each type of community. But the complementarity of territorial policies, also with that of the State, brings some com- plexity that may lead to think that no mapping will ever be entirely satisfactory.Mapping of powers between local and regional authorities does not mean absence of partner- ship, but synergy and pursuit of common objec- tives, each level having specific tools and means. Distribution of powers does not mean indepen- dence of institutions. Sharing is not separation. State and local authorities are a consubstantial couple. This logic allows the Cameroon Government to preserve National policies, inclu- ding National solidarity, diplomacy, defense, public freedoms, the general security, currency, maintaining major economic balances, definition of social rights, justice, research, aviation and shipping, part of land use, nationalized utilities.NATIONAL UNITYThe Government intends to consolidate the National unity, because in Cameroon, decentra- lization is not total autonomy or federalism or independence. It is, according to the subsidiarity principle, to exercise powers most appropriate at territorial level. Decentralization is in fact, the exercise of powers by local authorities as part of a free Government through elected councils. This autonomy entrusted communities is designed within a framework set by the laws.Thus, the elected director exercises their responsi- bility in the framework of a National policy, without necessarily sharing all political options taken by the State. On as the local administrator, he must comply faithfully. This is part of the public service ethics in Cameroon.The Government ensures that this subordination of functions should not be confused with that of a hierarchical system. This implies that political power is exerted on local authorities only through the law. Thus, within each sectorial policy, the law gives elected authorities rights, imposes duties; assigns targets; lays down rules. It thus defines a "National policy" whose implementa- tion is entrusted to decentralized Government.It is in this spirit that the first decentralization laws were drafted. They thus provided a review of legality, the possibility of recourse to the administrative Court, the referral to the Community or the State, to ensure the legality of acts, an exceptional character to the Office Substitution, a guarantee of transparency of relations between local officials and regulators.EMERGENCE OF OTHER FORMS OF DEMOCRATIYDecentralization will allow an exercise of shared responsibilities, which is a democratic advance. This is both an act of confidence in the citizens of Cameroon, in their ability to manage themselves and choose their representatives, and it is an act of trust to elected officials who conduct their territorial development policies according to the guidelines they have chosen, with motivation and concern for good governance. Decentralization also offers a democratic breakthrough by suppressing municipa- lities referred to as Special Regime Municipalities whose municipal executive was headed by a dele- gate of the Government. Only urban communities continue to operate on this principle.It is a real breakthrough if one refers to history which reveals that before the accession of Cameroon to independence, the municipality was marked by the seal of the administration. The communal executives were appointed; the deliberative body was partly elected.The 1974 law on communal organization gene- ralized election of the deliberating body although Special Regime Municipalities already existed and in rural municipalities, Sub-divisional Officers were municipal administrators.LOCAL ACTORS MOBILISEDAND ORGANIZED TO RECEIVE DECENTRALISATIONThe decentralization laws reflect a strong reinforce- ment of skills and responsibilities of elected officials. The freedom of the elect, increased by the cancelling of prior systematic control is an essential change. Now the elects in Cameroon are mas- ters and responsible for the majority of their actions. This should free their initiatives for the implementation of new policies.LES ATOUTS ECONOMIQUES DU CAMEROUN53

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