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Cameroon: Open letter from Prominent Lawyer to Colleagues over BEAC rejecting application-file in English from CAMPOST

A prominent lawyer in Cameroon has sent a letter addressed to colleagues, asking them to immediately get the author of a letter from BEAC Governor (Abbas Tolli); rejecting an application-file in English Language from Cameroon Post (CAMPOST), sanctioned. The lawyer also wants an apology from BEAC/CEMAC on the matter. 

“A submitted application-file requesting for a License not treated (rejected) BECAUSE IT IS ENTIRELY IN ENGLISH is totally unacceptable!!!”, the lawyer says. 

“We have to call on the CEMAC authorities through the government of Cameroon to immediately replace the Governor of the BANK whose acts clearly undermines not only the integrity and security of Cameroon, but of the entire CEMAC community. I hate to imagine that this letter was sent with the benediction of the Cameroonian Authorities. God Forbid!!”, he added. 

Read the open letter below:

Rejecting a letter in English Language is unacceptable

Dear Learned Colleagues, the letter from the Bank of Central African States signed by its Governor (Abbas Tolli), wherein he informs CAMPOST that their submitted application-file requesting for a License cannot be treated (rejected) BECAUSE IT IS ENTIRELY IN ENGLISH is totally unacceptable!!!

This letter signed by the BEAC Governor not only goes against the letter and spirit of all CEMAC fundamental texts and the laws governing its associated institutions, the Cameroonian Constitution but can be seen as a calculated attempt at excluding the Anglophone Legal Practitioner and Banking Professional from any transaction that relates to CEMAC/UMAC/BEAC. 

We have not yet recovered from the wounds caused by the non-translation of OHADA texts when the Governor come up with this letter which touches on our very survival. CAMPOST retained the services of an excellent Common Law Lawyer who submitted a perfect application file in English just to be rejected because IT WAS DONE IN ENGLISH!!! 

We are therefore doomed as Common Law / English-Speaking practitioners. Do we need any other proof that we are 2nd Class citizens in this country? Do we need any other argument that contrary to Law No 2019/019 of 24 December 2019 on the promotion of official languages in Cameroon (which says English and French are of equal value in this country), the French Language is more equal than English in Cameroon…and now CEMAC. 

In this light, we have the duty to immediately get the author of the letter properly sanctioned and an apology obtained from BEAC/CEMAC so this this never repeats itself again. We have to call on the CEMAC authorities through the government of Cameroon to immediately replace the Governor of the BANK whose acts clearly undermines not only the integrity and security of Cameroon, but of the entire CEMAC community. I hate to imagine that this letter was sent with the benediction of the Cameroonian Authorities. God Forbid!! 

We shall however know if the Cameroonian authorities were accomplices to this letter from their reactions within the next few days. This is not certainly the time the Government of Cameroon should joke with careless and high-handed acts perpetrated by foreign civil servants. We have shed enough blood because of issues related to language!!

What should we do now as lawyers

Within the Next 48 hours in our various fora and lawyer’s groupings we should; 

• Grant Interviews to Journalists and press organs on this subject. It is important that the public understands that there is NO SINGLE CEMAC TEXT/LEGISLATION IN ENGLISH. 

• Get a firm commitment from CEMAC to have all its texts translated in to its 4 official languages  (FRENCH, ENGLISH, SPANISH and ARAB)

• Various Anglophone/Common law  Lawyers Groupings should jointly and severally seize the Presidency, The Prime Minister, The Head of the Reconciliation and Reconstruction Commission, The Commission on Bilingualism and Multi Culturalism, The President of the CEMAC Commission, The Minister of External Relations, All Friendly Diplomatic Representations, The Resident Representatives of the World Bank and IMF.

• Envisage to do a strike action if we do not get a reaction on or before Monday April 27th 2020. 

• Liaise with other English-Speaking professionals in the Banking Sector and Professional Training institutions, in a bid to protecting the Cameroonian Constitution and our common interests as need might be.

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