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Title:The referendum of 20 May 1972 in the Federal Republic of Cameroon revisited: the due process of law or a coup d'État of the francophone majority?
Author:Ngwa Nfobin, E.H.
Periodical:African Administrative Studies (ISSN 0007-9588)
Geographic term:Cameroon
constitutional law
Abstract:To this day, there is no unanimity in the assessment of the 20 May 1972 referendum in Cameroon, which introduced the unitary State. The advocates of the referendum, mainly francophones, believe the maintenance of its result, the unitary State, is non-negotiable. To the adversaries, mostly anglophones, negotiation is also out of order because it would make the referendum look legitimate. Among the latter, the 1972 referendum is referred to as 'Ahidjo's coup d'État'. In 2009, the Southern Cameroons National Council, together with the Southern Cameroons People's Organization, unsuccessfully petitioned the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights for a declaration of secession of the Southern Cameroons, one of the reasons being that the 1972 referendum was a constitutional impropriety. This article analyses the issue of the 1972 referendum. It argues that the referendum did not amount to a constitutional impropriety, and was even further from a coup d'État, because not only was the Rule of Law observed, but it also had the backing of international law. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]