Kah Walla Defends the Truth & Freedom of Expression: Dare Oppressors

Kah Walla has taken to social media to defend her statements made recently in the USA about the situation in Cameroon’s English-Speaking Regions.

Despite the threats made to her life, the one time presidential candidate, has, in a statement, not only set the records straight but also made it clear to those threatening her that they cannot stop her from standing for the truth.

In this well written statement, Kah Walla blames the Biya Regime for its poor handling of the crisis and also attributes blame to Ambazonian leaders and activists who through lies, manipulation and intimidation, have made a bad situation worse.

There are few politicians and activists in Cameroon who are willing to defend their convictions, even when this puts their lives at risk.

Kah Walla has been one of the consistent advocates of freedom of expression and the rights of all Cameroonians to live in a country free from oppression. From the start of the current crisis in the English Speaking regions of Cameroon, she has not spared a moment to challenge the regime in Yaounde for its high handed and irrational approach to solving the problems.

When journalists and activists have been arbitrarily arrested, Kah Walla has not only spoken up, but also gone out on the streets to demand their release

This brave woman has been attacked, arrested and threatened countless times by the Biya regime. She has shown that she is willing to sacrifice her political ambitions for the sake of peace and prosperity in Cameroon, her recent action being her refusal to stand as a candidate during the 2018 sham presidential election.

Why then is Kah Walla not the people’s favourite? Why is it that Ambazonians are now threatening her for speaking the truth, even when that truth is liberating? Why is it that people who claim to be fighting against oppression, and who should appreciate Kah Walla as a credible ally, rather chose to vilify her?

While I cannot claim to know the answer to all these questions, one thing is clear, Kah Walla is just another victim of a misogynistic society. She is a victim of a society that is still scared of strong, powerful and independent women in positions of leadership.

Had rhe statements made by Kah Walla been made by any other male politician, the vitriolic attacks and threats would have been minimal or nonexistent.

All in all, I cannot fail to express my profound admiration for this woman and all she stands for. She is not only a symbol of liberation for the oppressed people of Cameroon, she represents a symbol of liberation for all women across the world who are still held down by patriarchal and misogynistic norms.

Below is her full statement as posted on her Facebook Page.

–‐—-‐————————‐—————

Fellow Cameroonians,

First I want to wish a Happy Easter to all our Christian Brothers and Sisters. Secondly, I wish to extend particular greetings to all who live in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon.

It would seem in the last 72 hours there has been quite a frenzy about a video snippet from the conference I spoke at, at the George Washington University Institute for African Studies. This frenzy has resulted in some persons in the Diaspora calling me an “enabler and declaring me an enemy of Anglophones and demanding that I should be arrested and tried”.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out to me out of concern for my safety and well-being. You are right to be concerned and I thank you for your love and affection.

Please be assured, I am serene and focused on the fight for change for Cameroon, as I have been for decades. There is absolutely no fear in my heart. No fear of visiting the South West and North West regions, which I will do upon return to Cameroon. No fear for my life.

Let me confirm some of the statements made at GWU, once again.
• There is an Anglophone problem in Cameroon which is over 60 years old.
• In the current phase of the Anglophone Crisis which erupted in October 2016, the Biya Regime holds 100% of the blame for the instigation and the escalation of the crisis. The Biya Regime refused to dialogue, refused to address fundamental problems and responded to non-violent protests with violence and killing. The Biya Regime cut off the internet for 3 months to the North West and South West. The Biya Regime radicalized the population and led to the taking up of arms by some groups.

Now let me get to the part of my comments at George Washington University which some have found controversial.

The fact that the Biya Regime is absolutely culpable, does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms to fight for independence misled and lied to the population from Day 1 and have continued to do so for the past 3 years.
The Biya Regime has killed Anglophones indiscriminately and committed all sorts of abomination on the population. This does not negate the fact that those who decided to take up arms have also used intimidation and violence from Day 1. It does not negate the fact that their choice to take up arms has created a situation in the North West and South West regions which is catastrophic and untenable for the population.

In fighting the Biya Regime, we are fighting a regime which has lied to us, manipulated us, intimidated us and used corruption and violence on us for the past 37 years. It is inconceivable to me that those who want change would use the same tactics of lies, manipulation, intimidation, corruption and violence on the population while trying to bring about change.
Whether it was the intention of those who fight for the independence of the South West and North West regions or not, that is what has happened and continues to happen on the ground. We can no longer keep silent about it.

A wide variety of political opinions exist among Anglophones. At the very least, there are:
• Those who believe in an armed fight for independence
• Those who believe in independence, but not in an armed fight
• Those who believe in regional autonomy of various types = Federation
• Those who still believe in the unitary state (Yes, Anglophones who are part of the regime are still Anglophones).

Personally, I believe in regional autonomy or what some call federation. However, I qlso believe, all the different opinions have a right to exist and to be expressed. We cannot build change, if we intimidate and are violent with those who have a different opinion from our own.

I strongly and openly disagree with the maintenance of the status quo of a unitary state.
I also strongly and openly disagree with the strategy of an armed fight and have stated clearly since 2016 that I believe this strategy will endanger the lives of Anglophones and will do little to advance their rights. The facts on the ground today, have confirmed that belief.

I will not allow anyone to intimidate me or stop me from expressing my opinion. No threat of violence or arrest will affect me. I have fought one oppressor in the person of Mr. Biya and his regime for decades, I will certainly not be afraid of Facebook oppressors living thousands of miles from the people they say they are fighting for, or any other oppressors in whatever form they may come.

From October 2016 to September 2017 the fight for Anglophone rights was largely non-violent. During that period, we counted less than 100 deaths (all these deaths could be attributed to government forces), ZERO refugees, ZERO internally displaced persons, ZERO villages burned.

The choice to take up arms gave the Biya Regime, which we all know to be violent and repressive, the foreseeable opportunity to intensify its violence.

From September 2017 to date the fight for Anglophone rights has included armed groups. During this period, we are counting at the very least 1000 dead (attributed to government, but also to armed groups), about 50,000 refugees and close to 500,000 displaced persons and thousands kidnapped. The education of an estimated 2,500,000 children is in jeopardy. The economies of the North West and South West are in shambles and fertile ground has been created for extreme violence and criminal behavior. The population lives in poverty, fear and confusion.

In my opinion, it is time to reassess the armed strategy and define new ways of fighting the Biya Regime that do not put Anglophones in the midst of violence, kidnappings, murder and general mayhem. You can agree or disagree with my opinion. What you cannot do is intimidate or threaten me.

Some have issued veiled threats to my life. I am amused. At the very least 1,000 people have died in the North West & South West. My life is not so special. If I lose it, and Cameroonians who remain behind gain freedom and better lives, you can imagine I made my peace with that many years ago.

The Biya Regime has its soldiers, those who are fighting for independence have their armed groups. I am part of that majority of Cameroonians who have no guns and no army. We will however not be intimidated or silenced by those who have arms on either side. We will speak our minds and fight for our freedom without violence.
You have killed many, and you may still kill many, including me. Know that however many you kill, there will still be others to rise up and fight for their rights, without violence and without guns.

We believe in our country, Cameroon. We believe in our future, we are on the ground fighting for our rights.

We will not be silenced.

Thank you.

Maurice Kamto Declares Himself President-Elect of Cameroon

In an election that will go down in the history of Cameroon as one of the most controversial, it has not been short of excitement and intricacies.

With last minute coalitions that were formed, challenged by the electoral commission (ELECAM) and defended by the parties; with warnings made by the Cameroon Communication and Territorial Administration ministers as soon as polling was over; with several reports streaming in from different areas indicating that there were many irregularities; one would have thought it could not get more interesting.

However, as unofficial results made the way across social media sphere, it became obvious that Maurice Kamto, the leader of the  Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) and leader of the Coalition formed with the NOW Movement, was emerging the clear winner.

Despite the fact that Cameroonian law indicates that official announcement of results can only be made by ELECAM and the Constitutional Council, 15 days after polls, Kamto was not to wait for whatever they will declare. An announcement was therefore made by Kamto’s team about a press conference that was to take place on Monday, October 08 at 10.00am in Yaounde. This finally held a few hours later, because of the huge security presence at the initial venue.

During the press conference, Maurice Kamto declared that he had been given the mandate to kick a penalty, he kicked and a goal has been scored. Amidst large cheers from the crowds, Kamto went on to state:

I have closely followed national and international opinion regarding the elections and I am inviting the outgoing president to organize a peaceful handover! As I am involved, I guarantee him and his family a protection at the level of his status. I launch a virulent appeal to all candidates in this election to remain vigilant

Talking about the ongoing crisis in the English-speaking regions of the Country, which has effectively meant that people from those regions did not participate in the elections, Kamto promised to rebuild the villages that have been burned by the Biya regime and to pay compensations to all victims.

It is the hope of many Cameroonians that 85-year-old dictator Paul Biya, will concede victory peacefully and allow the rebuilding process to begin, especially with regards to the fractured North West and South West Regions. Some people, however, are skeptical as they wonder how the man who has been in power for most of his adult life, will suddenly hand over to someone without a fight.

It is expected, that with the ongoing tensions in the English-speaking regions, should Biya refuse to concede victory, there is a high likelihood of a nationwide crisis as supporters of Maurice Kamto will also not be giving up without a fight.

West Cameroon Movement for Change Chairperson Announces October 1, 2018, Worldwide Demonstration

October 1 means different things to every Cameroonian. To the Federalist, it is the day the Two-State Federation came into existence, therefore, marking the birth of the State of West Cameroon. To the Separatist or Ambazonian, it is the day on which their Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, declared the restoration of their independence on October 1st, 2017. To other Cameroonians, it is the day on which President Paul Biya ordered the indiscriminate massacre of many unarmed civilians in 2017, thereby plunging the country deeper into crisis. For many families in Cameroon, West of the Mungo – also known as – Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon, Ambazonia or simply Anglophone (English-Speaking) Cameroon, it is the day they will never forget as their loved ones were brutally taken away from them and their lives torn apart forever.

These issues are the core of the message delivered by the Chairman of the West Cameroon Movement for Change (WCMC), Michael Takie, on his first-ever live broadcast on their Facebook page. Mr. Takie highlighted that while the federalist is looking for the restoration of the lost dignity of the people of West Cameroon and calling for a return to the Two-State Federation; the separatist is calling for the restoration of the dignity of the people of Southern Cameroons through a clean and complete break with the Republic of Cameroon and the Ambazonian is commemorating their day of independence, one thing stands in the way of all these people – DICTATOR PAUL BIYA AND HIS REGIME.

WCMC Chairman, Michael Takie, talks to a reporter about the issues in Cameroon
WCMC Chairman, Michael Takie, talks to a reporter about the issues in Cameroon

To this end, therefore, Mr. Takie highlighted the need for all to unify and challenge the monster preventing the people from reaching their different aspirations. He argued that irrespective of what differences people have with regards to their destination, it is obvious that their journey goes along the same road, and hence, they ought to use the same vehicle and keep each other company.

Rallying together to ask that Biya leaves power and should not stand for the 7th October 2018 elections, is, according to Mr. Takie, something that serves a triple purpose. First, it liberates the whole of Cameroon from 36 years of baren rule. Secondly, it is the beginning of justice for the people who have lost their lives at the hands of Biya and thirdly, it is a step in the right direction for everyone fighting for change in Cameroon.

A demonstration across major cities and countries in the world was therefore announced. Those currently confirmed are: 

YAOUNDE – LONDON – NEW YORK – PARIS – WASHINGTON DC – BELGIUM – SOUTH AFRICA

Confirmations for other demonstrations scheduled to take place at Cameroon’s Embassies and foreign missions in other Countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are still awaited.

While it has been established that the different countries will decide on the location for their demonstrations, the WCMC leader proposed that the targets on that day should largely be the disruption of business for all Cameroon’s foreign Missions. This is with the exception of Yaounde, where the location for the demonstration is a highlight guarded secret, which will be released shortly before the day of the demonstration.

Drawing inspiration from the people of Burkina Faso, who stood together as one and demanded the departure of Blaise Compaore, this demonstration is a call to every Cameroonian, who wants things to change, irrespective of their linguistic background or political affiliation, to come out en masse and demand an end to Biya’s monstrosity.

The WCMC has together with other frontline organisations in the UK, been at the forefront of organising demonstrations and starting petitions. It has organised demonstrations multiple times at the Cameroon High Commission in London, at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, French Embassy, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This is the first time it is working with leaders of groups beyond the UK to organise a worldwide shutdown. WCMC believes that the main strategy to stop a dictator like Biya, remains non-violent peaceful resistance.

 

Cameroon Elections 2018 – The Ambazonia Boycott and Its Implications For the People of Southern Cameroons

I have been trying to find the logic behind the calls for boycott by the Ambazonian leaders. At best, it appears as a knee-jeck reaction to a situation, rather than a well thought out plan that can yield tangible results in determining a better future for the people of Southern Cameroons in particular, and the rest of Cameroon in general.

Coming across this article, I cannot resist the urge to publish it here. Unfortunately, the writer did not include their name, but the logic is sound. I am therefore assuming their pemission to publish this, given that it is already in the public domain. I will be happier though, if the author could identify themselves.

Happy Reading!!

There are 3 major political blunders in the history of Cameroon that have significantly altered the destiny of Cameroon. I mention these just because decisions of great consequence only get fully understood with the passage of time. And within our current context, we need to appropriately situate the consequences of the decision of many to boycott the 2018 election.

My hope is that you will read this message, gain some benefit from it and use it to clarify your thinking in this moment of great confusion and pain for our people. Most of the decisions made today are done by individuals who I can criticize. However, the only active player I will mention is Biya – because he is the one we should be focused on replacing.

Let us go to the beginning…

1. THE UPC BOYCOTT In 1955, the UPC decided to boycott the coalition proposed by Soppo Priso because they wanted France to leave Cameroon and grant immediate independence. Pierre Messmer, the French Governor cut a deal with Ahidjo that created the Mbida-Ahidjo government. This boycott resulted in the North-South alliance that has dominated politics in Cameroon for 57 years.

2. THE SDF BOYCOTT – In March 1992, John Fru Ndi decided to boycott the first multiparty parliamentary election. Despite the boycott, the opposition comprised 51% of the parliament, which weakened the control of the Executive. From 1992 to 1997, many progressive events took place – AAC conferences, calls for a Constitutional Conference, the Tripartite talks and the 1996 constitution. This progressive trend only started failing after the return to parliament in 1997. Since 1997, the SDF has consistently lost seats in parliament and today controls 9% of the 180 seats. The insistence by Fru Ndi to remain opposition leader regardless of the series of successive defeats and the SDF’s inability to adapt into a true coalition remains the central contributor to the long-term impotence of the opposition.

3. THE AMBAZONIAN BOYCOTT – On October 7, 2018, there will be a Presidential election in Cameroon. Paul Biya is at his weakest and the world is watching like never before. For the first time, there are credible opposition candidates and with advances in technology, it is increasingly difficult to rig an election where the opposition decides to compete. While many expect it to be a close election, the only way to get Biya out and contemplate a new political future for Southern Cameroonians is to bring the 800,000+ Southern Cameroonian votes into the coalition. This is the final option to resolve this crisis politically. If we boycott, the only option is a military solution.

DECISION POINT
With record by numbers of Southern Cameroonians fleeing, even to LRC, it is time for the Southern Cameroonians intellectuals to seriously weigh the options – particularly members of the Diaspora. Today, they cannot pretend that the problem does not exist. Most families have either lost relatives or know of others who are refugees or internally displaced.

There are many legitimate grievances we can lay claim to. However, any objective observer will agree that the amateurism of the people who claim to speak for all Southern Cameroonians has resulted in a loss of every opportunity to defeat Biya internationally and created a culture of violence and reprisals at home. By insisting that all Southern Cameroonians should tow the independence line, they have stifled the most fundamental of all freedoms – the freedom of thought, and have prevented the integration of majority of progressives who can add value to the range of options that must be employed to hold the Biya regime accountable in the court of international public opinion.

The fact that we have been rebranded from a peaceful non-resistance movement to a secessionist (and terrorist to some) organization is a testament to the failure of imagination and leadership of those who claim the right to speak for millions of Southern Cameroonians.

The time has come to put an end to this. It is not enough to think we must be monochromatic in our thinking because we are all Southern Cameroonians. Right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of the fact that we are all Southern Cameroonians. A government that raises 2 million dollars to create a 200 million+ dollars problem that is borne solely by the victims it claims to represent has failed. PERIOD!

We should stop deceiving ourselves that this interim government has the answers. We should stop deceiving ourselves that Biya is a regime propped up by France. The cooperation accords with France expired in 2010 and Biya did not renew them. The oil we keep saying is exploited by France is now owned primarily by the British, Chinese and the Russians. So how does our IG alienate France, ignore the British, Chinese and Russian interests and claim it is doing any work, let alone think? Does the IG realize that this fight has not started and all Biya has been doing is provoking a situation that will suppress opposition votes in the NW and SW, secure a mandate and then accelerate the disintegration of Southern Cameroons? Are the warlords on the internet going to come back to Cameroon to secure territory and fight?

My fellow Southern Cameroonians – we are heading in the wrong direction. And if any leader – whether a Facebook warrior or member of the IG disagrees with what I am saying, they should go online and state so publicly. I insist on them doing so publicly because the record should indicate after October 8th that they took the position. This stupidity by people who are thousands of miles away has got to stop.

The only plan Biya has after October 7 is to use his mandate (derived largely from the Southern Cameroonian boycott) and embark on a pacification program similar to what was done with the UPC in the 1960s. With arms from China, the best we can realistically hope for is an intensification of hostilities and eradication of nationalism from Southern Cameroons.

We can avoid this. War and Peace are choices. Victory and Defeat are choices.

But we all have to realize the clock is ticking fast. And if you care about this, start calling your friends and relatives to tell them things are going to get serious and we need to take action immediately. We lose nothing by voting but everything by refusing to vote.

The time has come to ask the IG to make a u-turn to the ballot box. If not, let the record indicate that we had the opportunity to avoid crashing into an abyss – and our leaders insisted that we should maintain the course, play into Biya’s hands and accelerate the deconstruction of Southern Cameroons.

If we stay silent and do nothing, history judge our decision to boycott not as another act of popular resistance, but as the biggest strategic blunder in the difficult history of Southern Cameroons. It will be a blunder orchestrated at a time when there are Southern Cameroonians around the world in positions of power and privilege, we have access to the corridors of power and technology AND Biya is 85 years old and at his weakest. We will fail not because our cause is unjust, but because we have allowed a team of people bereft of imagination and moral clarity to assume the mantle of leadership.

We have to stop this circus of listening to an IG that does not have a command and control structure on the ground and a growing band of militias who keep saying that they are relying on instructions from the IG. This struggle is now a ship without a captain and we are about to reach a point of no return. We are not seeing the number of victims grow exponentially while the agenda is increasingly controlled by a small team of narcissists who know that true democracy will deprive them of their claims of leadership.

The time has come for the Diaspora to rethink the extent to which it has been manipulated. The time has come for the people on the ground to know that the small group of extreme voices who control the social media narrative are more interested in holding onto power and will never come to Cameroon to fight for them. The progress we have made so far has been in spite of the poor leadership of Biya and the IG. We are on our own and we better start thinking of what is best for us as individuals and for our people. And when we do, we should make sure we give the right advice to our friends and relatives at home who rely on our counsel.

We can beat Biya and secure a Federation in 2019 that meets the aspiration of our people. We can change course on October 7, and let the political process and a new President address our grievances. However, if we say no, the IG better start telling people to start buying coffins, preparing for airstrikes on our towns and villages and the probability of fighting against the Russians and the Chinese.

That may very well be when we will start realizing how stupid we have been all along.

IGNORANCE WILL NOT BE AN EXCUSE AFTER OCTOBER 7, 2018. STOP ALLOWING GHOSTS TO DETERMINE YOUR DESTINY UNLESS YOU WANT TO BECOME A GHOST. THINK FOR YOURSELF. YOUR VOTING CARD IS STRONGER THAN ANY AMBA BULLET.

Cameroon Ruling Party Militant Rejects Biya: Asks Other Party Members to Do Same

One of the most difficult things to understand in Cameroon politics is why any one would support the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Party (CPDM). I had some years back, classed them as a bunch of people who celebrate mediocrity. However, when Biya declared his intention to stand for president – AGAIN, I was shocked to see members of the party supporting this bid. The most disturbing justification given by most of them is that Biya is their natural candidate and that no one can perform the job as good as he does.

This assertion is weird in many ways. First, the fact that Biya is over 86 years old, has been president for 36 years with nothing to show for it. Second is the fact that even if Biya were to win another term, there is no guarantee that he will live above 90 given his constant medical trips to Swticerland. The question that has always plagued my mind is what will happen to this party when nature takes its course and Biya leaves the stage? One thing to note is that Biya currently is the emblem of the party. Every party uniform or publicity material carries a more than 30 years old picture of Biya. It seems however, that like Biya, the militants of this party are happy to see Cameroon sink.

But not one lady who identifies herself as Solange Siret and her residence as Switzerland. In a self-made video that had been making its rounds on social media, Solange has finally decided that enough is enough.

Wearing her party uniform and ensuring that Biya’s picture was in the background, this lady lamented on how bad the situation in Cameroon is. She decries the fact that Biya has decided to run for another term. To her, this is totally unacceptable. Her reason is not that Biya is incompetent, which would be the blatant truth. She makes the logical argument that at Biya’s age, he should be retired and testing at his home in Mvomeka. She explains that given Biya’s age, it is most certain that many decisions of State will be taken by others.

Ms Siret goes on to state categorically that if Biya is a candidate at the 7th October elections, she will be voting another person. She then goes on to call on other militants of her party to do the same.

While I am of the impression that this lady might have seen the handwriting on the wall and is making sure she crosses on the right side of history before doomsday, I cannot help but applaud her actions. Many Cameroonians on social media have expressed the fear that this lady’s life might be in danger, with some cautioning that she should go into hiding. Such sentiments are borne of the fact that over the 36 years of his barren rule, Biya has responded to criticisms by either killing or imprisonment.

Whether other members of the party will hearken to Solange’s plea is a matter of conjecture. I am however of the impression that even if all the members of the party including Biya’s wife were to vote a different candidate, the electoral mechanism in Cameroon is such that Biya will still emerge as a winner.

So, rather than calling on others to vote another candidate, the right call will be for them to pressure Biya to stand down as a candidate before the election date. That is the only way to guarantee that Biya will not come forth as the undeserving winner of an election, organised while a part of the country is embroiled in civil conflict.

36 Reasons Why Biya Deserves to be Re-Elected President of #Cameroon

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

31

32

33

34

35

36

Actually,  NONE

 

CAMEROON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: A KEG OF GUNPOWDER BUT ANY CAUSE FOR ALARM?

CAMEROON: READY FOR CHANGE?

Throughout the time I have been in Cameroon, (about two weeks now) I have not felt for once that a very crucial presidential election is around the corner – only once in Yaounde when I was asked to present my ID card twice within a distance of 200 km did I get the sense that there was some tension in the air. In fact, I get a greater feel that on the 9th of October 2011, Cameroonians will have to go to the polls, is when I am on Facebook.

It should not be in the least surprising for anyone who has been following Cameroonian politics. The first thing to note about the country is that it is one of the countries that are called ‘democratic’ but which has never for once elected its president. It is alleged that the first President Ahmadou Ahidjo was simply a choice of the erstwhile colonial masters who preferred him to André Marie Mbida after killing Ruben Um Nyobe. Ahidjo himself decided to single-handedly appoint Paul Biya his successor, who has clung to power since 1982. When the winds of change of the ’90s brought multi-party politics to Cameroon, it was an opportunity for old goons to learn new tricks.

The most free and fair elections in the Country was held in 1992 which the opposition led by Ni John Fru Ndi allegedly won but which, the incumbent Biya having the knife and the yam, ended up declaring himself the winner. Many today, blame Mr. Fru Ndi for the 1992 lapse. That was the decisive moment, they claim. He simply had to say the word and Cameroonians would have fought to defend their votes. He rather chose the pacifist route by taking up the bible and pointing to Cameroonians that ‘when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’. That saved Cameroon the agony of going down the path of many African nations. OR DID IT?

Since then, the incumbent Biya and his party, the CPDM have mastered the art of maintaining power at all costs. The ultimate result has been that the government has concentrated more on trying to maintain power than do anything else. Most terrible in the whole scenario is that Biya has succeeded to build even within his own party a personality cult around himself. Without holding a Party congress since 1996, he has evolved into a ‘natural candidate’ for the party. Two days ago a Congress held after his candidature had already been declared seemed to be an opportunity for him to show all that he was ‘lord’ of the party (Of course, he is. The most popular emblem of the party is now his 1985 face. It is on all party uniforms and official documents). To have selected another candidate would mean the party will have to go through an overhaul of all its intrinsic values. CPDM is synonymous with Paul Biya.

But why all this sycophancy? Why is it that the failures of the Biya regime stare at all in the face yet he keeps receiving ‘motions of support’ even from parts of the country that are so run-down that one wonders if they are part of same Cameroon? All these would have pointed to the fact that the elections are a foregone conclusion had it not been for the recent happenings of the so-called Arab Spring – especially the fall of Hosni Mubarak. This is what makes the Cameroon situation precarious.

A KEG OF GUNPOWDER?

Cameroon did not take a cue from the uprisings in North Africa as many will wrongly assume. In 2008 Cameroonians came out on a nationwide protest and strike against Mr. Biya’s bid to change the constitution, a protest that was effectively crushed by the US-trained Battalion Intervention Rapide (BIR). Since then it was clear that the force could effectively carry-out the mandate for which it was created. However, with the fall of Mubarak, even when he tried some of the tricks Biya used in 2008, (clearly showing that they were reading from the same script), it became clear to the United States that even the BIR may not be able to quell a revolt in Cameroon this time, should one occur. President Obama quickly called on Biya to hand over power as a bid to avoid the same situation whereby power could fall into the hands of someone who was not on the US control-roll. This will have been an easy thing for Biya to do but unfortunately, he has little or no guarantee that leaving power would mean freedom. He had already soiled his hands. There is the lake Nyos disaster of 1986 that still has unanswered questions; there are the massive killings that he carried out from the period of 1990 to 1992; there are the mass imprisonment of people without trial; there is the case of the 9-killed at Bepanda; there is the recent case of 2008 and many crimes against humanity which the ICC has on their lists waiting for him.

Caught in this dilemma, Biya could not declare his candidacy until a few weeks to the elections as trips to China clearly gave him reason to dare the US. While it is clear that China endorsed his bid, given that they were clearly represented at his party’s congress, the real problem is that the leadership and command of the BIR is more American than pro-Biya. Should there be massive protests in Cameroon this time around, the US will be slow in using the BIR to maintain Biya in power. However, unless the US can get a candidate they can back, it will be a difficult situation as their inaction could still lead to what they are trying ab initio to avoid. The worse case scenario, however, will be one in which the US backs another person against Biya using the BIR and Biya manages to get support from the Country’s French forces and military. A clash between the gendermarie and the military on one hand and the BIR on the other, will be inevitable. BUT THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF THE US SEES A POTENTIAL THREAT TO BIYA’S REIGN AND DECIDE TO LEAVE HIM IN THE COLD!

ANY CAUSE FOR ALARM THEN?

There seems to be none as far as Cameroon is concerned. This is because of three reasons:

First is the fact that Cameroonians are generally peaceful people. No people will bear the failures of Biya with such docility. From the time Biya took power in 1982, the country has been on a steady decline in all aspects. The economic crisis officially declared in 1987 was just the beginning of worse things to come. No new infrastructure in the country can be credited to the regime. From the presidency, airports to even football stadia, everything still carries the insignia for Amadou Alhidjo. Despite all these, Cameroonians have watched the country go from bad to worse with a geometric retrogression but maintained stoic silence. This may be because they are very hard-working, such that they have been able to weather the storms and keep sustaining themselves and forging ahead, and hence, lacking some of the basic ingredients of violent revolutions such as widespread hunger and great frustration, which makes the likelihood of a popular revolution slim.

Secondly, Cameroon has a breed of opposition leaders who unlike the Alassane Dramane Ouattaras and Morgan Richard Tsvangiras, are not ready to sacrifice the blood of innocent Cameroonians for the presidency or a piece of power. John Fru Ndi showed this in 1992 and at this stage, even popular leaders like Kah Walla and Ayah Paul Abine have all shunned the way of violence. This, however, can only be sustainable if none of them decides to approach the USA or France with promises of greater concessions against China. As long as they keep hoping to win through the ballot, none will defeat Biya unless they decide to team up with the power brokers – the USA and France. If they should take this root, however, the avenues for violence in Cameroon will be greatly opened.

Thirdly, the ability of the US to maintain the status-quo is crucial. Asking Biya to leave was not because they favoured change in Cameroon but because they fear change that is not within their control. If Biya can play his cards well and retain power, the US will be all too glad to endorse him again. He may not be playing the huge role that Mubarak was playing in the Middle East but at least being as naive as he is, he is effectively the type of person the US needs to maintain a solid base in West and Central Africa. Hence the USA will back another person only when it becomes crystal clear that a popular uprising that could threaten Biya’s hold on power is imminent.

In the final analysis, one should not expect anything to really change with the present elections, unless the opposition can effectively work out a strategy that promises a fair deal to the US and France. Should this happen, then Cameroon could explode at the slightest ignition after the elections.