Has Marafa Jump-started The National Conference in Cameroon

Is the system of corruption and dictatorship that has held Cameroon to ransom for about three decades about to self-destruct? Could it be that the time has come when history in its ever-sure nature has run its course and what was denied Cameroonians since the 1990s is being given on a platter of Gold? Or on a more sombre note, could it be that Cameroon is becoming a stage where global powers will play-out some of their dirty politics as has been the case with several African countries?

Biya – 30 years and counting…

I recently uploaded a cover picture on my Facebook which reads: ‘AFRICA IS THE FUTURE’ but each time I look at it, I find myself assailed by conflicting emotions. I have not stopped wondering how it can happen. A casual glance  at the continent reveals a rich continent beset by widespread corruption and poverty; the thriving of dictatorship and the crowning of sit-tight attitude of leaders. It could be a given that the inability of the continent to get out from the pit of underdevelopment and the prevalence of armed conflicts can only be addressed effectively if the horrors of corruption, lack of solid institutions, genocides, wars and other forms of violence are effectively dealt with within the systems in which the evils were perpetrated. When the International Criminal Court for example fails to try Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Taylor in Ivory Coast and Liberia respectively, but allows Saddam to be tried and executed in war-torn Iraq and is currently showing laxity in taking Saif Gaddafi away from war-torn Libya, the indication of double standards, which many are bound to decry becomes obvious. Looking at South Africa and Sierra Leone however, one sees situations in which Truth and Reconciliation Commissions – systems of public truth-telling – were effective in healing the nations of the scourges of apartheid and civil war respectively. Sober reflection then on whether the Sovereign National Conference that has been the wish of many Cameroonians could be the panacea to the nation’s scourge.

Marafa – Rocking the Boat…

This article thinks that could be the case – given the recent revelations by the erstwhile Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation,  Marafa Hamidou Yaya, who was hauled to prison without trial. By the end of it, your conclusions will be as good as mine but no matter what they are – it will not be long before we are proven right or wrong.

At the dawn of the 90s, when the bloody launching of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) set off the democratization process in Cameroon, a National Conference was viewed as the panacea for a new direction for the country. The clamour for the National Conference was backed by the all powerful National Coordination of opposition parties, it was backed by the civil society, and the private media buoyed by exciting political developments amply articulated the case made by proponents of this forum. The response from President was “sans objet”, a National Conference will serve no purpose is a loose translation of his laconic response.

His response could be understood because in the Republic of Benin, where the first National Conference took place in the continent, President Kerekou sat helpless and watched as he was stripped of all the dictatorial powers he had. The experience in Zaire now the DR.Congo had not gone well at all for President Mobutu. In lieu of the National Conference, President Biya organized the Tripartite Talks which did little to address the concerns of change thirsty Cameroonians. Over two decades later, there is every indication that Cameroon needs that National Conference more than ever before. Infact the urgency becomes fiercer considering the subtle viciousness of the raging succession battle within the ruling establishment which is overheating the polity. A lot of ink has flowed since the arrest of former Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni and former Territorial Administration Minister and Politburo member of the CPDM Marafa Hamidou Yaya. In a couple of letters Marafa by fate or by design may have finally jump started the National Conference.

Whereas the other high profile detainees have largely remained silent, Marafa has put the regime in panic mood  with embarrassing revelations contained in letters that have left the country only yearning for more .As the country watches in awe, as the CPDM is pinned to the wall unable to defend their Party Chairman cum Head of State, as the SDF joins the fray providing a high profile team of legal advisers to defend Marafa, and with the CPDM dominated parliament reportedly backing a demand for a commission of enquiry into kickbacks paid to former Minister of Transport and now Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma as revealed in one of Marafa’s letters, the former Secretary General at the Presidency and Minister of Territorial Administration may have launched that National Conference.

There may be no reason  to believe everything Marafa says , but if the Government and the ruling party are running helter skelter, then there should be elements of truth. That the ruling establishment is unable to articulate a coherent response can only add up to guilt. Rather than answer the charges , the regime thinks casting doubts on Marafa’s character and vaulting ambition will sweep the issues under the rug. But what about the facts he has used in making his arguments? Why  has the regime not provided facts to the contrary? Issues raised by Marafa have bordered on his doubts on the ability of ELECAM to organize free elections, advise to Biya to step down, instances of corruption brought to the attention of the head of state, his opposition to violent crackdowns in Douala et al. Most of these issues would probably never have occured had the National Conference taken place to lay a strong foundation for a country serious on meeting 21st century challenges.

A National Conference will possibly have vouch for separation of powers with checks and balances. It may have made it possible to have strong institutions instead of a strong man in power. It would likely have come up with the kind of electoral reforms that will make Cameroon the envy of other countries. The CPDM backed Biya in rejecting in. It possibly would have come up with reforms that would have quelled the institutionalization of corruption. Today there is a whole government in jail for crimes not clearly spelt out, with facts that are hazy though no one doubts the magnitude of corruption within the regime. It never took place and the result is a faulty constitution whose provisions have never been fully implemented since 1996. It never took place and since 1990, Cameroon has not known a single election that is free and fair election.

The National conference may have addressed concerns of Southern Cameroonians who have since continued to be humiliated and stretched and now want nothing but a restoration of their statehood.

Hard to make an exhaustive list of what a National Conference will have addressed but it is right to say the issues have been multiplied many fold. Even President Biya and his CPDM who “saw no merit” may rethink their stance if the clock could be turned backwards. While his collaborators in jail must have tasted the poison they helped serve Cameroonians, the President cuts a pathetic figure. In power for circa thirty years is Mr Biya proud of his legacy as it stands today?

For the National Conference, dialogue or whatever it is called to be successful, people must speak their minds, people must unburden secrets, people must be ready to listen and as hard as it might be forgive. Marafa has fingered Issa Tchiroma, Fame Ndongo and even the President himself. In the absence of a formal gathering, his letters serve a purpose. Cameroonians may love to know about election rigging and its techniques, there will love to know how proceeds from oil were managed when he was Chair of the National Hydrocarbons Company. How about shedding light on the operational command in Douala? What if someone tells us what really happened to money contributed by Cameroonians during the Coup de Coeur for the upkeep of the embattled lions ate the 1992?   How about Minister Fame Ndongo answer the charge from Marafa on his role in siphoning funds for some bogus satellite program at CRTV? Already former CPDM Central Committee Member Chief Milla Assoute is adding flesh to the corruption charge levied against Issa Tchiroma for on a contract for the maintenance of Cameroon Airline planes in the mid nineties.

While it is laudable that the SDF is pushing for a Commission of Enquiry on the compensation of victims of the 1995 plane crash, one must ask why the MPs of the leading opposition party did not ask for one on the Albatross, or for one to review the modus operandi of Sparrow Hawk. Hopefully Marafa’s barbs can fire up others within the ruling party, the opposition, civil society, the progressive forces in the Diaspora et  al to step up the fight for change. The country needs that National Conference or some genuine form of National dialogue. On it may depend whether the country makes or mars. On it depends genuine reconciliation because beyond the façade of peace lies a badly fragmented polity. Genuine reconciliation starts with dialogue, shedding light on issues not to reopen old wounds but to better understand each other and chart a better way forward. From the 1984 coup, the repatriation of the remains of former President Ahidjo, national recognition of heroes of the independence struggle like Roland Moumie, Ernest Ouandie, etc. South Africa had its truth and reconciliation with sordid tales that hurt but helped to heal the wounds of apartheid. Nigeria after Abacha tried the something similar. Cameroon needs its own and Marafa’s missives though inadvertently may be leading the country towards this ultimate eventuality.

Source: Pan African Visions

Libya elicits lawlessness in geopolitics. (nsnbc.wordpress.com)

Libya elicits the current state of affairs in global geopolitical trends. It can´t be described as anarchy because it is too well organized. The NGO that should safeguard humanity against the purges of wars of aggression and conquest is instrumentalized by warmongers and aggressors. The ICC serves as show trial court for imperial ambitions while neither the less powerful states and their governments, nor the individual citizens who are at the receiving end of the plain good old murder and ma ham in the new disguise of humanitarian initiative, freedom and democracy are without legal remedy of any kind. That is, unless they have another big brother to sponsor them. Anarchy would be far more civilized.

Saif Islam al-Ghadafi.

While it is reported that Saif Islam al-Ghadafi was released from court in Zintan, cleared for all charges, the fact remains that the world has very little confirmation. As long as he is not able to speak for himself his life must be considered in danger. Whom would one want to trust ? The International Red Cross whom nsnbc busted by providing video evidence for the fact that Red Cross trucks were used to transport RPG´s and ammunitions to the front line in Sirte ? A video that showed one of the white, wooden Red Cross crates fall and break open, displaying the instruments of murder ? Or should one trust the Zintan brigades who not so long ago would rather have seen Saif dead than alive, and who now are claiming to “protect” him from Belhadj ? Or should one trust the corporate media who sold the worlds dazed public a dream of freedom while covering for the greatest war crime of the 21st century ? As long as we can not see Saif Islam al-Ghadafi speak on his own behalf while free and at a location of his choice, or as long we can not see a freely chosen legal counsel representing him and speaking on his behalf, he should be considered a prisoner of war, a hostage that has been paraded around as a trophy, and the worlds legal systems are utterly inept to deal with his case.

The ICC.

The ICC very much would like to get a hold on Saif Islam al-Ghadafi, while the case for an investigation into the purported murder of Muammar Ghadafi is stalled. One should make one simple comparison, ask one simple question, to understand the problems with the ICC.

Is the ICC an institution of the United Nations ? Was the United Nations by virtue of UNSC Resolution 1973 instrumental in facilitating  NATO´s aggression against Libya ? Then ask yourself the following question.

If you were to go to family court because you had been charged for paying alimony for a child whose DNA does not match yours, and the judge and prosecutor both repeatedly had raped the mother of the child in question, would you ask for having the judge and prosecutor impeached ? Or would you submit to the court and pay alimony for the child of rapists ?

The Rome Treaty.

The establishment of the Rome Treaty, granting nation states international jurisdiction in cases of the most serious crimes known to mankind must be considered as progress. Insufficient progress. One should argue for many more nations to implement international jurisdiction, but. If there are no safeguards that guaranty that the state, the prosecutor and judge are impartial and have no involvement in the case what so ever, the Rome Treaty is prone to the same abuse as that of the ICC and the family court mentioned above.

Further more, as long as there are no binding bilateral and multilateral security assurances that safeguard small nations from political, economical as well as covert and overt military aggression, should a purported war criminal from a powerful nation like the USA be charged, arrested or tried and imprisoned, what small nation would dare to make use of the Rome Treaty and international jurisdiction. What is needed is a dramatic increase in the number of nations who implement international jurisdiction, and bilateral as well as multilateral solidarity assurances in case of repercussions that are to be expected from a nation that is used to be the undisputed bully on the block.

The people in the streets.

The most tragic factor of it all is that the ordinary citizen, the politically innocent who makes up over 90 % of the victims of modern warfare have no legal remedy, not any, unless a government of a member state of the United Nations will sponsor them.

The world needs legal remedy for the family that lost their home and income, the children who lost their mother and father, the newly wed man or woman who had a life full of hopes and dreams, together, and whose future was blown to atoms by one of those precision guided smart bombs, by fuel air explosions and cluster bombs in Bani Walid and where ever the Empire strikes out. The survivors of countless ethnic cleansings and genocides throughout the world, as that in Tawergha. They have no legal remedy unless some nation finds it opportune to abuse their suffering for their own political agenda by sponsoring a war crimes tribunal. Or until they find a small nation that dares to be next on the political, economic, and military hit list of the powerful. This must not stand.

Justice for all, independent on state sponsorship.

We are no longer hurling stones and sticks at one another, and neither are we bound by mechanized mass murder. Humanity has reached a point where a few madmen are able to incinerate humanity and all habitats of other creatures, the flora and the fauna in them. It can not stand and we can not let it stand, that our international legal systems do not follow suit in this awesome development so that we once and for all criminalize the state sanctioned, premeditated mass murder that we call war. It has become too dangerous to be continued. Many social scientists argue that aggression and warfare is part of human etiology, that we inherited it from the chimps. This may be so, but chimps don´t have access to the red button that triggers a nuclear war, all though, but let that be a explained by the cartoonists. Most importantly, chimps still live in the bush, we don´t. Chimps don´t develop medicines like antibiotics. Evolution is not determinism but change. We can either change our aggressive behavior because it has become to dangerous, or perish.

The world needs a legal system with as many nations as possible implementing international jurisdiction for the most serious crimes known to mankind. Trials can no longer take place in nations, with prosecutors and judges who are a party to the conflict. Most prominently and urgently, the demand that a state sponsors a trial for war crimes must be abandoned. If your loved one was murdered by the powerful, if your children were atomized by the powerful, if your existence, your hopes and dreams and your future were destroyed by the powerful, you must be able to demand justice, to attain justice, without begging another bully that he please may help you because it may be of political advantage to himself. This is pornography and not justice, and we can not let it stand.

Dr. Christof Lehmann on nsnbc

21.12.2011