My dear compatriots,
Last year, under the same circumstances, I took stock before you of the situation in three fundamental sectors of the life of our country.
We have noted, together, that the security situation in our North West and South-West regions remains worrying, despite calls to lay down arms addressed to the insurgents. Priority should, therefore, be given to finding a solution.
We were also able to observe that our economic growth was progressing but that it was necessary to consolidate it to stay on the trajectory of the emergence.
Finally, evidence has been brought to show that social progress in Cameroon is not an empty word. This essential complement to our democratic system is underway in its various components: education, health, employment, etc., even if, of course, progress is still possible.
Where are we a year later?
With regard to SOCIAL PROGRESS, our objective remains to improve the living conditions of our fellow citizens and, ultimately, to eradicate poverty.
It is a considerable task which requires large financial resources. The budgetary allocations devoted to it are significant and, obviously, a function of the level of State revenue. These, in turn, depend on the health of our economy which I will tell you about in a moment.
Be aware in any case that the efforts that have been made in recent years in this area will be continued and, if possible, amplified.
Regarding the GROWTH OF OUR ECONOMY, I think I can say that it is evolving rather satisfactorily, even if it remains frustrated by, among other things, an uncertain international context.
In the recent period, considerable work has been done to rectify the situation within the framework of the economic and financial program concluded with the IMF. Our growth has resumed, inflation is under control, fiscal and external deficits are contained, our public debt remains sustainable.
The government’s economic, financial, social and cultural program for 2020, recently presented to the National Assembly, is in this continuity. It is based on a growth hypothesis of 4%, which should allow us to remain on the path of access to the emergence in 2035. This objective is also taken up by our draft National Development Strategy for the period 2020-2030.
It is an opportunity for me to thank our external partners, the IMF already mentioned, but also the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency, for their budgetary support and their support for our structural reforms.
Does this mean that we can rest on our laurels? Certainly not. Our objective remains to reach emergence by 2035. But given the instability of the international context and the commercial tensions which jeopardize trade, we will probably have to make additional efforts to stay on the recovery trajectory. economic sustainability of our country. I believe we can do it.
This recovery must be for us an ardent obligation which will mobilize all our energies. It requires not only the improvement of the living conditions of Cameroonians but also the peaceful exercise of democratic rights as a result.
There remains the SECURITY SITUATION IN OUR NORTHWEST AND SOUTHWEST REGIONS.
This is undoubtedly one of the most pressing problems at the moment. The criminal activity of armed groups continues to disrupt public, economic and social life in these regions. However, in recent months, various measures have been taken to bring these young people, who for the most part, have been indoctrinated, to reason. In particular, calls were made to lay down their arms and prospects for social reintegration opened.
For those who persist in staying on the wrong track and who continue to use violence, we will have no choice but to fight them to protect all of our fellow citizens. Our defence and security forces will once again do their duty with moderation, but without weakness. I want to assure them of my full support and my high consideration.
Previously, decisions had been taken to convince our compatriots in the two regions concerned of the Government’s desire to grant local authorities the powers which would enable them to have a greater share in the management of local affairs. It was also confirmed that provisions were made to accelerate the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism.
It should also be emphasized that by demonstrating its solidarity with the victims of the atrocities and atrocities of the armed bands in various ways, the Nation as a whole has shown that it supports the policy of the Government.
However, aware of the long deadlines for implementing the reforms envisaged and anxious to reduce the inconvenience and suffering of our compatriots in the North West and South West, I decided to open, at the end of September – I will be excused for citing myself – “a Grand National Dialogue which should make it possible, within the framework of our Constitution, to examine the ways and means of responding to the deep aspirations of the populations of the North West and South West, but also of all the other components of our Nation ”.
I explained this at length on September 10, in a message to all our compatriots. I felt that this initiative had been widely approved by our public opinion as well as by various international organizations including the United Nations and several friendly countries.
Preceded, as I recalled, by various peace offers addressed to the insurgents and accompanied by the release of several hundred detainees, this “Grand National Dialogue” was effectively held from September 30 to October 04, 2019. It brought together a wide range of representatives of Cameroonian society.
Today I would like to thank all those who were kind enough to participate in it and congratulate those who organized it, foremost among them the Prime Minister, Head of Government.
It seemed to me that the participants had a great moment of communion which enabled them to express their attachment to peace and national unity.
I was able to appreciate the fact that Cameroonians, as a whole, welcomed a good number of proposals from the Grand National Dialogue.
As of December 10, 2019, a bill concerning the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism was adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate. It provides that the use of English and French must apply equally to all of our public institutions. Compliance with this law, I am sure, will strengthen the bilingual character of our country.
In addition, on December 15, 2019, as part of an extraordinary session of the National Assembly and the Senate, a bill on the general code of decentralized local authorities was submitted to our two parliamentary chambers for examination. Our deputies and senators have thus adopted a law which includes decisive advances for our decentralization process, in particular as regards the status of local elected representatives, the functioning of local assemblies and the allocation of new and substantial financial resources to the regions.
With particular regard to the North-West and the South-West, the special status from which these regions benefit takes into account the specificities of the English-speaking educational subsystem, Common Law and traditional chiefdom.
My dear compatriots,
As you can see, it is a new Cameroon that is taking shape. A Cameroon adapted to the present time. Cameroon looking to the future.
To get there, we have experienced many trials. As in the past, together we have overcome them all.
In this seven-year Great Opportunities for Cameroon, the Grand National Dialogue has opened the way for us to resolutely advance on the path of peace, national unity and progress: values that have always made our country great.
My dear compatriots,
Before concluding, I would like to say a few words about our democratic system.
When the conditions were right and we had together laid the foundations for democracy in our country, I was aware that the road would be strewn with obstacles. This was indeed the case, but we have made remarkable progress.
Unfortunately, a minority, in Cameroon as in the diaspora, seems to have forgotten the rules that govern democratic life. Is it necessary to recall that democracy has as sole arbiter the sovereign people? When the latter has spoken through free and transparent elections, and the results are announced after examining possible appeals, these results must be respected and accepted by all.
It is neither social media nor this or that press organ that can change the results of an election, much less illegal demonstrations, violence and personal or hateful attacks. Let us remember that I said at the time: “Let us debate, do not fight. So behave the citizens of a democratic country.
If you want to participate in the democratic life of your country, you must respect the rules and campaign in political parties whose activity is carried out within the framework of respect for the law. It will be open to you to verify this during the next municipal and legislative elections of February 09, 2020.
Security measures have been taken so that, throughout the territory, all our fellow citizens can exercise their right to vote. If necessary, they will be further strengthened. I, therefore, urge all Cameroonians registered on the electoral lists to go to vote, knowing that they will elect women and men who will translate into reality the reforms desired by the Cameroonian people, in particular, the acceleration of the implementation decentralization.
Regarding the excessive behaviour of some of our compatriots in the diaspora – whether they are or are no longer Cameroonians – I think that they should, out of patriotism, refrain from negative comments about their native country. One must always respect one’s homeland, its institutions and those who embody them.
My dear compatriots,
Let us make Cameroon a land of great opportunities for economic and social development, in peace and unity.
Happy New Year 2020 to all.
Long live the Republic!
Long live Cameroon!
Yaoundé, December 31, 2019