This paper is designed to establish a set of empirical arguments derived from the 22 July 2004 decentralization guidelines in Cameroon, especially as these affect city governance in the country. The paper draws mainly on interviews of major administrative and political officials of the city of Kumba in the Southwest Region to argue that the decentralization guidelines designed to devolve powers to city councils in Cameroon has in-built structural impediments. These incoherent administrative and political obstacles have ironically contributed to a hold-up of effective participation by locally elected municipal authorities and city inhabitants in the process of local democratization and participatory development. The implications of these hold-up on the broad process of political and administrative reforms in Cameroon are considered.
Key words: Bureaucracy, governance, decentralization, guidelines.
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