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Death Of Mayor Ekema Patrick: What The Law Says In Case Of Vacancy

According to the decentralization law of 2004, in article 70 of law n° 2004/018 of July 22, 2004, in the event of the death, resignation or dismissal of the mayor or deputy mayor, the municipal council is convened to elect a new mayor or deputy mayor, within sixty days after death, resignation or dismissal. In the case of the Buea Mayor, Patrick Ekema who passed away on Sunday, his first deputy, Dr. John Lyonga Efande, according to law is expected to take over command for 60 days until fresh elections are conducted within that period. But the dismissal of Motomby Mbome as the first deputy mayor remains unclear whether it was approved by a competent authority according to the decentralization law 2004.

Article 70 sub 2 and 3 add that (2) An acting staff member shall be employed during the period referred to in paragraph (1), in the order of precedence, or default, by one of the five senior councilors, designated by the municipal council. (3) In the event of a deputy mayor’s office being vacant, the deputies in office shall have a replacement of a pre-emption right, in the order of precedence acquired in the previous election.

The Buea Council witnessed this same scenario in 2013, when the former Mayor, now Senator Mbella Moki Charles, crossed over to the Senate. His first Deputy, now late Ekema Patrick took over interim and subsequently won to retain his position after 60 days.

It should be recalled that the First Deputy Mayor, Motomby Mbome Emmanuel was fired by late Ekema Patrick thereby catapulting Dr. John Lyonga Efande to the first deputy position a few months ago.

But it remains unclear if the competent authorities approved of Motomby’s suspension , article 94 of the 2004 law states that (1) In case of violation of the laws and regulations in force or gross negligence, the mayors and deputies, after being heard or invited to provide written explanations on the facts with which they are accused, may be suspended by decree and by the Minister of Local Authorities ( territorial administration) , for a period not exceeding three (03) months. Beyond this period, they can be either rehabilitated or dismissed.
  (2) The revocation referred to in paragraph (1) shall be pronounced by decree of the President of the Republic.
  (3) The suspension orders and the revocation order must be reasoned.
  (4) Mayors and deputies who are dismissed or dismissed retain the status of municipal councilors.

Also, article 48 (1) Any member of the Municipal Council duly summoned who, without legitimate reasons, have missed three successive sessions may, after having been invited to provide explanations by the Mayor, be declared to have resigned by the Minister in charge of Local Authorities, after advice from the municipal council.
  (2) The decision, a copy of which must be sent to the person concerned and to the representative of the State, may be appealed to the competent court.
  (3) An adviser who has resigned in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) may not apply for a by-election or general election to the municipal council, which immediately follows the date of his automatic resignation.

The battle for Mayorship has just been ignited if Mr. Motomby Mbome Emmanuel decides to take to push back the decision of the late Mayor, provided the above-mentioned procedures were not respected.

Within this period of 60 days, the competent authority of the division, the Senior Divisional Officer for Fako, is expected to convene the council session for a fresh election for the position of the Mayor. However, in some political context, it could be delayed by the regime in power. The case of late Francoise Foning in Douala 5 municipality was highly politicized after her death on January 23, 2015, in Yaounde.

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