Under the constitution of 1996, Cameroon is a unitary republic with an executive president as head of state. Before the constitutional amendment of April 2008, presidential terms were seven years with a maximum of two terms. However, in that month the National Assembly approved an amendment that removed presidential term limits. The president is elected by popular vote.

The president appoints the prime minister, and appoints the cabinet from proposals submitted by the prime minister. The prime minister is head of government, and the government is responsible to the national assembly. The president also appoints the provincial governors, the judges and government delegates in main towns.

The unicameral National Assembly has 180 members elected by universal adult suffrage every five years. It has three sessions a year. The president can either lengthen or shorten the term of the legislature.

The constitution provides for an upper house, the Senate, with 30 per cent of its members nominated by the president and 70 per cent directly elected every five years. However, as of 2012, the Senate is yet to be established.

Since July 2005, when the very different penal codes in force in the francophone and anglophone regions of Cameroon were unified, there has been substantial investment into updating and expanding the judicial system. The system is presided over by the Supreme Court and comprises high courts, courts of appeal, military tribunals and courts of first instance. The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president. The High Court of Justice, by contrast, is made up of nine judges and six substitute judges, who are elected by the National Assembly.

Although the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by Cameroon’s constitution, the Supreme Court comes under the Ministry of Justice.