Cameroon House resumes business after inferno

Fire Cameroon parliament
The main building of Cameroon's parliament in Yaoundé which was razed on night of November 16, 2017. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The Cameroon National Assembly resumed business Monday, four days after fire razed a significant portion of the administrative and financial section of the parliament building.

The incident forced the authorities to suspend legislative activities.

A press release earlier by the secretary-general of the House, Mr Victor Yene Ossomba, said some committees that were due to meet last Friday would hold deliberations immediately.

The committee on finance and budget was expected to scrutinise the Settlement Bill for the 2016 financial year, while the Foreign Affairs committee was due to examine two bills, including one to authorise President Paul Biya to ratify the 2014 Malabo Protocol.

The Malabo Protocol vests the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) with the power to perform a legislative function on the continent.

Four floors

Only five states (Chad, Togo, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Mali) have so far ratified the Protocol, which requires about 28 countries to sign before it can come into force.

The National Assembly had resumed its sittings November 14, for its last and third session of 2017 before the fire incident said to have been caused by an accident.

The fire swept through at least four floors of the main building known as the Ngoa Ekelle Glass Palace, before it was contained.

The fifth and sixth floors were completely destroyed.

A grant

The office of the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), located on the fourth floor, was also razed.

“The documented life of the SDF for 22 years here at the National Assembly is gone. All the documentation in paper and electronic form, all computers are burned,” said party leader Joseph Banadzem.

No casualties were reported, the Red Cross said.

Cameroon plans to construct a new $15 million building for its parliament. The construction will be financed through a grant from China, after the two governments signed the agreement on September 22.

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