Cameroon is a constitutional republic. The head of state, the president, is elected by universal suffrage. The prime minister and ministers are appointed by the president. The original constitution dates from 1972, but has been revised several times. A new constitution was adopted in 1996. It provides for direct election of the president for up to two seven-year terms. Legislative power is vested in Parliament, which henceforth consists of a directly elected National Assembly of 180 members and a Senate. In the event of the President's sudden resignation or death, his duties will be performed by the Speaker of Parliament until a new President is elected.
After a failed coup attempt in April 1984, President Biya tightened his grip on the country, using an elaborate patronage system, partly along ethnic lines. The united Union Nationale Camerounaise (UNC) party was renamed Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais (RDPC). In the early 1990s, President Biya carefully implemented political reforms, including the introduction of the multi-party system. In 1992, the first elections under this new system took place, in which the RDPC won a major victory and Biya was elected president. In 1997, under the new constitution, he was re-elected for a period of seven years. Parliamentary elections in 2002 gave the RDPC a large majority (149 out of 180 seats), as did municipal elections.
In October 2004, President Biya was re-elected for another seven-year term with some 70% of the vote. Two major opposition parties (SDF and UDC) had entered into a coalition (CNRR) in 2003 but failed to come up with a joint presidential candidate. Compared to previous elections, these elections went well. There was no violence and, despite irregularities, the results broadly reflected the will of the people, according to international observers.
In October 2004, President Biya was re-elected with approximately 70% of the votes for a new seven-year term. Two major opposition parties (SDF and UDC) had entered into a coalition (CNRR) in 2003 but failed to come up with a joint presidential candidate. Compared to previous elections, these elections went well. There was no violence and, despite irregularities, the results broadly reflected the will of the people, according to international observers.
The political scene is dominated by the RDPC. The opposition, including the English-speaking Cameroon Anglophone Movement (CAM) and the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), have so far not been able to offer a serious counterweight to the established, French-speaking, political order. For the current political situation, see the history chapter.
Cameroon's economy relies heavily on the primary sector, particularly forestry, agriculture and fisheries. These activities contributed 16.7% of GDP in 2017 and provided almost 70% of employment. The service sector (mainly government) employs 17% of the population. An estimated one-third of GDP is due to the informal sector, which provides up to 75% of employment in urban areas.
Oil production accounts for 40% of export earnings. Other important export products are tropical wood (10%) and cocoa (19%). Economic development is thus strongly dependent on fluctuations in world market prices.
Since the end of the 1990s, the economy has been growing at a fairly constant rate of around 4% per year. In 2017 id growth rate is about 3.5%.
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