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Tension In Douala As Francophones Join Anglophone Lawyers’ Protest Against Marginalisation 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

barrister-abeng_2The Divisional Officer of Douala I, Jean-Marc Etoa Mbarga, has granted an authorisation for the holding of a conference in Douala on October 1 to discuss the non-existence of the English version of the Uniform Business Law, OHADA.

The conference, which will start at 10:00 a:m will group both Anglophone and Francophone lawyers.

The advocates from both divides would protest against the non-existence of the OHADA Law in English, since only the French version of the Law has been in circulation in Cameroon from 2010 when the law was revised.

This is contrary to the Cameroon Constitution, which states that all official documents must be published in English and French.

The organiser of the event, Barrister Roland Abeng, member of the Common Law Conference, had on September 21 deposited a demand for authorisation at the Douala I DO’s office.

Many thought that the DO, especially a Beti, would not grant an authorisation for an event that touches on Anglophone marginalisation.

But Etoa Mbarga said Cameroon is a State of Law and the Constitution of the country must be respected.

Speaking to The Post on September 27, Barrister Abeng said the DO, in his authorisation No 542/RD/C19/O/SP wrote; “because of the necessity of the translation into English of the Uniforms Acts of OHADA, the organisers of the conference must respect the stipulated time of the conference.”

The administrator recognises Barrister Abeng as the chief organiser of the event, and the man to be held responsible for anything that would go wrong. Members of the organising committee such as Mrs Mirabel Ntui Mungu, and Jean Aimé Kaptue Kounga will also be held responsible for any uncivil behaviour at the conference.

The DO of Douala I has copied the SDO of Wouri, the Special Branch of the Police and the Gendarmerie.

The October 1 event will be the first time Anglophone and Francophone lawyers are coming together to discuss on issues of Anglophone marginalisation.

It will also be the first time ever for a legally authorised event to be held in Douala on the significance of Reunification Day.

The advocates took the decision after the President of the Bar Council, Barrister Jackson Ngnie Kamga, raised an alarm on the non-existence of the English version of the OHADA Law to the authorities of the Ministry of Justice and got no response.

In fact, the issue of the non-existence of the English version of the OHDA Law was the subject of separate correspondence which the President of the Bar Council addressed to the Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso, and the Secretary General of the Ministry, Justice George Gwanmesia, who doubles as the President of the National Commission on the OHADA Treaty.

Since then, neither the Justice Minister, nor the President of the National Commission on the OHADA Treaty have bothered to respond to the Bar Council President correspondence.

In the face of such a spiteful treatment of Anglophone advocates, the lawyers began exchanging their views on the Cameron Advocates Forum for the way forward.

The lawyers however decried that considering that October 1 will be a Saturday, they would be unable to protest at the different court premise across the country, as they would have loved to.

It was based on this that Barrister Abeng, Moderator of the Cameroon Advocates Forum, proposed that a conference should be organised in Douala on October 1.

The conference will provide an opportunity for the lawyers to sensitise the population on the ills of marginalisation and the effects on the country and its people.

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