ELECAM Board Chair prescribes courage, optimism against insecurity

Last week’s outing by Enow Abrams Egbe, ELECAM Board Chair and Erik Essousse, Director General of Elections to the Southwest turned out to be a crusade by avowed optimists and Pastors’ sons to overturn the impossibility of holding elections under ambient insecurity in the Region. In the opinion of the Board Chair, he is an impenitent optimist and, propelled by such mindset, he sees no reason why elections should not hold in the Region.
Enow Abrams was reacting to a welcome address presented by Mewanu Divine Mokoto, newly appointed Interim Regional Delegate for the Southwest wherein he had catalogued a plethora of adversities that had been plaguing the smooth functioning of the elections management body here.
In this connection, he had euphemistically concluded that “with the current scenario of mutual animosity between separatist forces and the regular army that has induced massive exodus from the rural areas where fighting is most endemic, only a spectacular turn-round of circumstances shall permit ELECAM to organize, manage and supervise any of the scheduled elections this year in the Southwest Region.”
But, the Board Chair seems to have been viewing matters from a different perspective, underpinned by an entrenched desire to ensure that no circumstance; not even the prevalent insecurity in the Region shall prevent elections from holding on scheduled dates.
As encouragement, he counseled staff in the Region to be optimistic and collaborate fully with the administration in their various Council and Divisional Branches. He assured that strategies to be revealed at the appropriate moment have been conceived to circumvent some of the hurdles engendered by the current political upheaval in the English speaking Regions.
As reassurance to staff who had already been de-motivated by the opaque management of his predecessor, Abdoulaye Babale, the Director General announced a series of palliative measures intended to induce renaissance in the morally sapped working force of the Region. The goodies from the Essousse generosity consignment include realignment with the National Social Insurance Fund, NSIF, from which workers had not been benefitting from family allowance and maternity allocations for more than three years even as their contributions were regularly deducted on a monthly basis. Worse, even is the fact that those proceeding on retirement were to have found payment of their pension imperiled. Workers were assured of immediate regularization of the situation. Other allowances and gratifications also, came under review, including issuance of irrevocable salary transfer attestations to banks to facilitate loans suspended under dubious circumstances for more than three years and bonuses for registration and successful conduct of elections. These, the Director General of Elections assured, are not promises but measures already activated.
As part of the catalogue of impediments to hitch-free organization, management and supervision of elections in the Region, the Interim Southwest Regional Delegate posited that activities have been completely shut down in some localities. To concretise his assertion, he revealed that Konye and Mbonge Council Branches in Meme Division, Alou, Menji and Wabane in Lebialem Division, Tinto, Eyumojock and Akwaya in Manyu Division, Nguti in Kupe-Muanenguba Division, Muyuka in Fako Division and Toko and Dikome Balue Coucil Branches in Ndain Division have been deserted by their staff due to unbearable persistent insecurity caused by marauding militia in these areas. As a result, there has been a drastic drop in registration and card distribution figures, restriction of movements to hinterlands due to far flung distances between villages and polling stations and also, interferences by assailants who see the forests separating villages as convenient hideouts.
“Other factors that impede efficient and effective acquittal of our bounden duty include hostility towards ELECAM staff that have materialized in the kidnap of staff of Tinto Council Branch, and arson attempt on Kupe-Muanenguba Divisional Branch, Nguti Council Branch and Limbe II Council Branch and restrain from open sensitization and registration exercises. Your working visit nationwide will definitely reinstate confidence amongst the personnel,” he stated.
The delegate regretted the fact that there has been complete rejection of and heightened apathy against ELECAM by communities in distress, just like civil disobedience epitomized in the boycott of major national events like Youth Day, Women’s Day, Labour Day, National Day by the population hence, stalling their targeted massive registration given the difficulty in movement of staff and electoral materials owing to administrative edicts barring movements in most parts of the Region.
“Given our current situation of lined-up elections this year, the current rolling stock (vehicles and motorcycles) cannot meet up with the magnitude of tasks.
On behalf of the Southwest ELECAM family, he hoped the resolve of the Chairperson of the Electoral Board, Enow Abrams Egbe and the Director General, Dr. Essousse Erik to embark on a joint working visit on the heels of his recent appointment underpins exceptional stewardship and a crusading determination to curb some of the deficiencies that had been robbing ELECAM of the natural shine that it was supposed to radiate. Mokoto added that their “current action evokes palpable zeal, strengthened by concern for your immediate collaborators, the entire ELECAM family and our beloved nation Cameroon; all the glory of God through servitude, competence, transparency and reliability that will certainly result in total satisfaction for all.”
By Nester Asonganyi

Election deferral bill smuggled into parliament after statutory deadline

The draft bill to initiate postponement of House of Assembly and Municipal elections statutorily due this year has finally reached the House of Assembly after it fuelled speculations and debates among Cameroonians and on the social media. Tabled to the National Assembly for deliberation and eventual enactment into law five days behind statutory deadline, the bill takes root from an earlier presidential edict to the Speakers of the Senate and House of Assembly and President of the Constitutional Council intimating them of his intention to postpone elections into the concerned bodies by one year, effective from October 29, 2018.
The decision to postpone the elections although justifiable at face value judging by the ambient insecurity in the Grand North, Northwest and Southwest Region, which has provision in the constitution, appears to be linked more to a national treasury afflicted by chronic and acute impecuniosity.
The president’s edict relies on the closeness of the three elections that evokes probable skewedness in handling them and the possibility of disenfranchising many eligible voters as well as triggering disenchantment among those who might feel slighted by a poorly handled national assignment of sovereign dimension.
Cameroon’s constitution has provision for the president of the republic to postpone elections in the country for up to 18 months in the case of elections into national assembly and municipal councils. For this to happen, he must consult the presidents of the constitutional Council, National Assembly and the Senate. This is precisely what Mr Biya has done, even as his action is ultra vires, having exceeded the deadline of Thursday, June 21 by five days. According to the constitution, this was supposed to be within 40 days of the expiry of the mandate of the beneficiaries.
However, many wary observers have begun gainsaying the president’s current posturing, predicating their assertion on the fact that the prevailing circumstances in the country also affect election into the office of the President of the republic. Why then would the president choose to postpone elections that have to do with the welfare of grassroots Cameroonians and those who would have been mandated to represent them at the national level? They read in the president’s decision, a ploy to perpetrate his unenviable regime that has brought sorrow, tears and blood to Cameroonians in the last 36 years.
The bill shall be defended by Amadou Ali, Vice Minister in charge of Relations with the Assembly, whose passage will just be a formality given the cavalier approach to the examination of bills at the CPDM dominated National Assembly.
Interestingly, there is a complicit silence being maintained by opposition parties, including those that have candidates vying for the upcoming presidential elections.The contention from the public is that those currently aspiring to be president of the republic have adjudged themselves unfit to unseat Biya and have resigned to fate, barely waiting for the elections to be done with so that they can get their campaign money. They give teeth to their assertion by evoking the fact that it is more than two weeks since Mr Biya sent the memo to concerned parties but, there has been no reaction from political parties.
However, another school of thought leans on the fact that the bill was yet to reach the Assembly where its passage into law is a fait accompli. In furtherance of this opinion is the claim that political parties ought to be given the benefit of doubt, pending when the bill shall have been passed into law for them to react.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain and it is the incontrovertible fact that Mr. Biya is out to perpetuate his stay in power and intends to die in office. At over 85, he still gets his kick from being cajoled by court jesters who deceive him that he is “infallible and invincible,” thereby imbuing him with an aura of inflated importance that makes him feel he has been elevated to deity.
By Sampson Esimala

Who rules the roost? ‘Amba’ or army?

“Even though I was scared stiff, my journalistic instincts remained alert. At least, I was able to establish that there were 10 of them. They brandished sophisticated guns, which nozzles they trained tauntingly at us. One of them said: ‘this car has a CE registration number, so it must be from Yaounde. You are the people we are looking out for. You have put us in this mess and must pay accordingly.
“We pleaded, explaining desperately that even though our car was matriculated in the Centre Region, we don’t necessarily hail from there. We are actually from this part and we came to bury one of our brothers.”
This was part of a difficult conversation with ‘Ambazonia boys’ last week in Boyo Division, Northwest Region. Like elsewhere in the English speaking Regions of the country, they now man checkpoints, check passengers and in some rare cases collect small ransoms from them. Occasionally they would pick out an unfortunate security operative or saboteur/informant and abduct him to their camp.
Barely some two kilometers from here, the once bustling Belo town that was sacked some two months back by regular security forces is as dead as a graveyard. But for patrolling troops in armoured cars, it is difficult to see any sign of life here. The tens of thousands of inhabitants have fled into the bushes. Many others were brutally killed by the forces, reason it is claimed, the ‘Amba boys’ decided to constitute their militia.
Very often traffic between Fundong, the chief town of Boyo Division and Bamenda is blocked by the ‘Amba boys.’ They only open it to travelers when “Biya’s soldiers behave themselves by not harassing the innocent,” someone told this reporter.
Ironically, regular soldiers are stationed less than two kilometers away from their ‘Amba’ opponents. From the look of things, the soldiers are aware of the activities of this militia, but are rather reluctant to confront them for reasons best known to them. What they perpetrate, which annoys both the militia and villagers is that they shoot to kill anyone on motorcycle, regardless of whether the one is a certified member of the militia or not.
A middle aged lady by name Juliana Fung called The Rambler from where she said was her hiding place and claimed that her eldest son was summarily executed by regular soldiers who also burnt down homesteads in the Sub-Division.
“I am now in hiding with my other children, especially as I witnessed how a man and his entire family were burnt alive in their own home,” she claimed.
Narrating his ordeal further, the Yaounde based journalist who was home to bury a departed relation said the ‘Amba boys’ requested that every adult passenger in his car hand over their voter’s card. “We all said we didn’t have any but they would not believe and almost proceeded to body-search each and every one of us. It was then that I quickly pulled out my national identity card and presented it to them. On seeing that it was preserved in a CRTV folder, they got even more furious.
“So you work at CRTV? We have to go to the palace where your case would be determined by our boss. They added for effect in Pidgin English ‘… na dat Yaounde people dem dis wey we di fine am. Why wuna want disgrace we so?’”
He said although this lasted for some five minutes only, it appeared as though the whole episode had taken a life time. “We were apparently saved when upon sighting an oncoming vehicle, their attention was divided. The one who looked to me like their commander instructed that the vehicle be intercepted just in case it had on board a military man or anyone else in uniform.
“Then he turned his attention back to us and without as much as raising his voice he requested: ‘give the children water.’ This was a euphemism for a bribe or tip. My wife took out a FCFA 10,000 note from her purse and stretched it. They politely asked that it be placed on the ground. And then with the admonition; ‘God bless you, wuna waka fine ya, they let us go.
The Rambler learned that a member of the newly constituted Constitutional Council was, during the same period a victim of the militia. That he had to both sweet-talk and buy his freedom from the boys. While members of the regular army are said to have gone haywire, looking out for whom to brand and summarily execute, the ‘Amba boys’ have seemingly had employment in compiling names of potential ‘elite sponsors’ of their ‘independence project.’
Fung Juliana quipped: “The military have killed my first boy child and I won’t wait here with my other children to be also brutally murdered. Neither would I wait to be caught in the eventual crossfire of ‘the boys’ and soldiers.

Governor asks refugees to come out of forests

Feigning indifference to the persistence of turmoil emanating from the current crisis pitting Southern Cameroonian separatists against the Biya regime, Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai has declared that his Region is under control even as he acknowledged what he terms manageable disturbances that call for collaboration from the entire population to put an end to violence and embrace dialogue. He was speaking in Buea during a recent Regional administrative and security coordination meeting.
He referred to the meeting a traditional ritual, aimed at assessing the administrative and security situation in the Region. “We have had exchanges with Senior Divisional Officers and the Regional Chief of Defense forces and I will say the Region is under control. There are some disturbances but with the collaboration of the entire population, people of goodwill, traditional rulers, political leaders, the elites and the media, I think we will overcome all the challenges,” he said. Okalia added that preparations for future events are already underway given that the current school year will soon be over and, preparation for the next school year must be embarked upon because all the activities begin now, which circumstance justifies the presence of all SDOs in the Region and other collaborators.
In this connection, the Governor said: “We wish to continue in sensitizing the population to be aware that the truth is for them to come back to their homes; the forces of law and order are there to protect them against all acts of terrorism, hence they shouldn’t be afraid of the forces of law and order; rather they should be confident and be reassured in the presence of the military.
“We are inviting the elites, traditional rulers to come back and continue to work and sensitize their children especially, those who have been misguided and are now in the bushes for them to return home because dialogue is on the lips of everyone and we cannot dialogue with people who are in the bushes; let them return and the administration is there to exchange with them so that the situation should return to normal everywhere in the Region.”
Emphasizing further on the need for refugees to come out of hiding, the Governor added that, at the grassroots, traditional rulers, all leaders including family heads, elites, should return and go to the village to discuss with some of the children or the young men who to him are misguided and are now in the bushes. He said that what they are doing is detrimental and has no future emphasizing that it is the discussion with the entire community that can solve the problem.
Okalia assumed that it is only when people will return to their respective villages that dialogue would continue and one would be able to meet with the hierarchy for possible solutions. He also, appealed for violence to be put to a halt and “things returned to normal, before any other initiative because today the entire society is disturbed by the prevailing violence.” He talked of the Head of State having allocated many projects to the Region, many of which portend much hope to the population.
All the assurances notwithstanding, the governor admitted that the meeting was taking place within a peculiar context “that continues to be marked by the socio politically tense environment which is now commonly referred to as the Anglophone crisis.”
The governor acknowledged that the nation has registered the loss of many defense and security forces, school authorities, traditional rulers and even denizens assassinated under various circumstances by what he dubbed “the so called Ambazonia Defense Forces.” He however, appreciated the authorities present who have despite the harsh and tense atmosphere carried out their duties smoothly.
By Relindise Ebune

Rampaging military destroying lives, property

Consciences have been hardened, defiled by the warring factions. The ruling class is, by and large, hell bent on ensuring that coercive state authority triumphs over good governance, political reality and compromise. “Diaspora separatists” look to have vowed that “their people” will die on their feet rather than live on their knees.
Foreign interests appear not to be very clear yet, where to definitively pitch their tents of corporate greed. Militias are growing by the day, with unemployed radicalized youth eking out a living by kidnapping for ransom and bullying for cash handouts.
Rural populations, especially have melted into the forests, retreating from the regular soldiers who are not only burning down their homesteads; they are also shooting at unarmed men, women and kids. Most towns of the two English speaking Regions now look like conquered territory. The military are, by and large, calling the shots, especially in the Regional capital of Buea. They seem to be having their way all the way, and beyond what whatever specific tasks have been assigned them by the ruling class.
Armoured personnel carriers drive through the town recklessly, and in wanton disregard for rules of the road. The safety of other individuals using the same road means little or nothing to the soldiers. BIR soldiers especially drive without care and attention, purposely disregarding the safety of other persons or property. Many cars and other automobiles are being bashed in Buea and Kumba. Pedestrians have been wounded, at times fatally through such dastardly acts of military bravado.
Yet, none of the rampaging drivers in military fatigues is known to have ever been cited by the police for driving unsafely on the highway or in crowded municipalities. The apparently lawless men in uniform would not even stop to see if someone was hurt following their reckless driving patterns. Only on one occasion did they bash someone’s car on the Likomba hill from Tiko and after driving off for about one kilometre, they made a u-turn back to where they had done their worst and had their bewildered victim kicked and taunted.
A similar case of recklessness was recently recorded in Kumba, during which a military truck reduced a taxicab to twisted metal on the bridge near the Town Green.
Last week at the Molyko neighbourhood of Buea, chief town of the Southwest Region, the BIR soldiers were at it again. Driving at breakneck speed and in total disrespect for traffic rules, their personnel carrier almost killed a newspaper Publisher and the lone occupant in his car. But rather than atone for their crudeness, they rather drove on, wielding their weapons and mocking their traumatized victims and other onlookers.
From every indication, there isn’t just a breakdown of law and order, with sophisticatedly armed soldiers having a field day unperturbed. Fidgeting, scheming political elite are looking the other way. Consciences, especially those of soldiers whose lives are effectively jeopardized as they fight separatist forces have at best been defiled. Part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt is to say the very least, dead in these boys.

Kumba still cut off from Buea

Routing the Ambazonia militia from their stronghold near Ekona in Fako Division must have been pretty good news for the regime. Freeing certain important abductees, including a Police Superintendent would have been equally relieving to the regular forces and their paymasters. But somehow this seeming edge over the separatist fighters may turn out to be but a pyrrhic victory for the Government or at the very best, a good joke in bad taste.
Vehicular traffic from Kumba, Meme Divisional chief town, to the Southwest Regional capital, Buea has, for almost a week, been completely disrupted. The dislodged militia is said to have blocked the highway with heaps of sand and other obstacles, totally disrupting movement to Kumba and vice versa.
It is also alleged that the Amba boys went haywire, and have since been physically stopping every single automobile from getting into or leaving Kumba. Consequently, thousands of visitors who entered Kumba from Fako Division are all stranded here. Others who came in from Mamfe, hoping to proceed to Muyuka, Buea or Victoria are reportedly still stuck in this Meme chief town. The same goes for those that were trying to reach the popular K-town from Yaounde, Douala or even from abroad.
A source informed The Rambler that the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, Moderator Emeritus, the Most Rt Rev, Nyansako ni Nku is one of those stuck in the small village of Bombe. He was said to be on his way to preside at a memorial service for a prominent PCC Christian in Victoria when he was caught up in the melee. We were told that the army opted to improvise some means of getting him out of the seeming captivity and enable him carry out to his Pastoral duties but that the former Moderator would rather be holed up with the rest of the stranded crowd in the tiny village.
By midday on Tuesday, June 19, bulldozers, escorted by heavy military tanks left Kumba, ostensibly to clear the road and make for traffic to start flowing. But by nightfall, on the same day, not even a single automobile had arrived Fako from Meme or vice versa. Hundreds of anxious passengers were still eagerly waiting on both sides of the divide.
Elsewhere on the streets trucks carrying foodstuff destined for other parts of the country from the agriculturally rich Meme Division were stranded, packed in long lines on the highway. Some of the foodstuff was, of course, rotting away.

Digression from matters of the moment

Penultimate week, the social media was awash with reactions to what has now come to be termed the Messanga Nyamding challenge. The substance of this gibberish is the self-acclaimed Biyaist’s contention that Southern Cameroonians are supposed to be grateful to President Biya whose so called magnanimity has permitted them to enjoy the luxury of elite professional schools whose doors would ordinarily not have been opened to their dim-witted tribe. My take on it is to refer all those who feel their feathers have been ruffled to the anecdote in one of Chinua Achebe’s novels that throws up the scenario of a mad man in rags who went into a stream where villagers usually bathe and carried away the hanging clothes of someone who had gone into the steam. The narrative continues that instead of reflecting for a while on the issue so as to come up with a palatable solution, the victim jumped out of the stream and set out behind the mad man in his nakedness.
The account continued that, the madman ran into a crowded market with his pursuer valiantly behind him. Note that in African mythology the simple act of a mad man entering a market automatically renders his affliction incurable. To aggravate issues, mad man was known all over for his weird attitude but, the victim whose clothes he had taken from the improvised hanger at the stream had been known to be a rational being. However, his appearance in the market in Adam’s suit conjured up no other explanation than that he too, had suddenly gone mad to the point where he had entered the market and cannot be cured. The lesson here is that when somebody who is supposed to have been educated up to a certain level suddenly opts to rant using statements that cannot withstand the cannons of incontrovertible data especially, if such a person more than usually associates himself with the CPDM, the conclusion is that very little rationality should be ascribed to him.
Not being inclined to waste useful time on worthless name-droppers and mean attention seekers like Messanga Nyamding the suggestion here is to redirect our energy to more poignant issues that foretell grave danger to Southern Cameroonians if requisite attention is not brought into play. The issue is of course, is Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo’s revelation on Radio France International, RFI, that the CPDM party is ready to discuss federalism with the aggrieved component of Cameroon. Straight-out nonsense! What a cheap form of digression! Where has the indivisibility of Cameroon been consigned? Are they now willing to negotiate with terrorists? Or, like the Southern Cameroonians who have opted for separation as worst case scenario in their quest for greater autonomy they too, are giving the impression of embracing federalism to entice moderate Southern Cameroonians.
Without subscribing to the extremism of those who want out of Cameroon, the temptation nevertheless arises to query the sudden capitulation? And, why is it that it is coming from the ruling party and not the Government even though such a distinction is irrelevant in our skies underpinned by politics of next of kin. If there is any realism in Fame Ndongo’s claim, then it must be borne out of avowed impossibility of imposing their will on Southern Cameroonians. Should this be the case, then its import must be relied upon heavily in the event of any negotiations for a federal system of Government in Cameroon. They shall be negotiating from a position of weakness and so must not be accorded the privilege of dictating the pace of deliberations. The worst case scenario of a return to the status quo antes 1972 but, without the one party system instituted by Ahmadou Ahidjo in 1966 must be relied on as our pathfinder.
While conceding that this might be the first step towards an armistice in the current mutually devastating hostilities, the fact that this is coming so suddenly and more than half a year since President Biya declared war against unseen terrorists, floats the perception of weary warmonger pretending to be inclined to peace when the reality is that underestimation of the opponent has occasioned a drastic reversal in fortunes. In the event, what Southern Cameroonians had begun clamouring for since the late 70s, and followed up in the 80s and 90s is now being proposed on the airwaves of a foreign radio.
Our president is too big or has surrounded himself with an aura of inflated importance such that he cannot address the nation on the issue. A lesser being must be the one assigned to talk down on people he still considers second class citizens. How unrepentant and daft!
Granted that a modicum of seriousness can be ascribed to Government intention to discuss federalism; did it have to take so much loss of lives and property for the regime to be jolted to reality? How are the mighty fallen! Fame Ndongo, of all people in Cameroon was the one saddled with the announcement that the regime is disposed to engage in discussions on federalism after he had derisively posited that “Southern Cameroonians are just two cubes of sugar in a basin of water, ” meaning their grieving voices do not count. Nevertheless, circumstances including resilience of Southern Cameroonians and pressure from the international community even though not enough is rubbing off on the abysmal callousness that the Biya regime has brought to bear on governance and conflict resolution in Cameroon.
When international observers voice what trenchantly reflects its modus operandi of their governance, the regime opts for trading insults with an organization that will still do the same thing the next time the opportunity arises. Driven by a disposition that sees every issue as being susceptible to quick fix provided a reasonable wad of money comes into the fray they had hoped Amnesty International would succumb to fleece bait. Unfortunately, for them, not having their umbilical cords buried in our skies, the same indicting reports with corroborating evidence have kept rearing their heads to the chagrin of an irredeemable regime mired in ruthless abuse of the rule of law.
The desperation is clear. What is certain is that the country is down and out! Stone broke! But this does not seem to mean anything to an old man whose very close association with an avaricious wife has induced puerility and outright freebooting into his mind-set. And, so no matter the hue and cry out there, he is steadfast to clinging onto power until his dying day. He wants to see the stadium named after him go operational like a kid anticipating new dresses at Christmas. A man who chooses to host Africa in a sports fiesta whose alternative is many more hospitals, schools, houses and improved livelihood for every Cameroonian is certainly not in tune with the prerequisites of android-age governance. He wants to be adored, venerated and even pampered. Too bad, the nimbus clouds are gathering and soon the storm will appear with a ferocity whose end will be difficult to determine.
Oh yes, the diversionary tactics will not change what God has reserved for those who have wholeheartedly embraced the devil and are occasioning avoidable pain on ordinary citizens whose only request is an enabling environment for peaceful living. Nemesis has decreed retribution and the price shall be incalculable.
By Ngoko Monyadowa

Amnesty International’s fallacy

Conflict reporting that draws criticism from opposing parties is often assumed to be objective and balanced. The recent Amnesty International, AI, report on the Southern Cameroons crisis is a perfect example of how misleading such an assumption can be.It is by no means a dependable report just because it got the Yaounde regime’s ‘vuvuzela’ blaring so loud in protest as usual, while at the same time drawing salvos of censure from Southern Cameroonians.
If anything, this report seriously dents Amnesty’s image in the eyes of those who are looking up to it as a faithful watchdog on whose probity and integrity the world can count when it comes to conflict reporting and resolution.
This editorial would be far longer than that report itself if we were to itemise and comment on all its half-truths and omissions. Suffice it to say that if Amnesty International were a media outfit, a great part of this report would qualify for yellow – even armchair – journalism.
Whether all those truncated facts and all those errors of commission or omission were just the result of sloppiness or a deliberate act of misinformation, the report raises a crying need to set the record straight.
Let’s begin with the identities of the actors. In total superficiality the report echoes and amplifies Yaounde’s image of the conflict as being between the State of Cameroon and some band of secessionists. One would have expected AI’s reporter to dig up background information on this struggle. Such information, available at the UN if nowhere else, would have told AI that the parties to this conflict are two states, each of which had had an executive, a legislature and a judiciary, and one of which had made a sovereign decision to join a sister nation.
AI would thus have been able to qualify the present conflict appropriately as a reversal of that first decision – by seeking to relinquish and sunder a marriage that has proven faithless, loveless and hopeless after half a century of groaning. Amnesty would have helped the world to remember that Senegal and Gambia tried a union in the same circumstances and when it proved inconvenient, they were sensible enough to sunder it and remain good neighbours.
Coming to the nature of the conflict, it is most unhelpful on the part of AI to stop at saying there are acts of violence on both sides. Undeniable as this is, it is a half-truth. If AI had carried out a credible investigation it would have found out that there is no chicken-and-egg question as to who is responding to whose violence. Violence started, not the first day when somebody was killed, but the day the regime started trampling on the dignity of Southern Cameroonians in all those socio-political acts of marginalization that have been enumerated times without number since this crisis began. It increased when, over a period of more than 50 years the complaining partner was ignored or bullied into silence. The regime’s “what-can-you-do” attitude was sheer provocation and a call to another form of violence. With restraint, Southern Cameroonians responded with peaceful protests which gave the regime the pretext to crank up multiple forms of violence – arrests, rape, extra-judicial killings etc. Violence begets violence. When young people who have seen these bestialities visited on their kith and kin take up muskets and machetes and start fighting back – yes you can say there is violence on both sides, but one side is fending off an aggressor.
Even as an embedded reporter, AI would have seen that while the armed ‘restorationists’ direct their fire and fury at the instruments and agents of Government, the security forces are indiscriminate in their murderous repression. Soldiers or ‘restorationist’ fighters who are killed in combat will have died serving a country or a cause they believe in. But killings are reported every day of people who by their age and condition are manifestly non-combatant. Some are too young or too old to know anything about this conflict. One would expect all non-combatants suspected to aid or abet the insurgency to be arrested and tried, with due process respected, not summarily executed. Actions in the field show a level of impunity which the modern world cannot, must not, tolerate.
The report also indicated that both parties attack the civilian population. At this point one would challenge AI to actually go to the surviving towns and villages in Southern Cameroons and ask the frightened population who of the two forces they consider as the aggressor and who as their protector.
Amnesty is a well-known and respected human rights pressure group whose reports are expected to inform the international community’s conflict prevention and resolution action. The shortfalls of this report trigger three levels of alarm. The first is the beclouding impact it could have on the understanding of the Southern Cameroons conundrum by those who, over the years have come to rely on Amnesty’s probity. The second is the fear that this report bespeaks a break from that probity and a slump into unusual sloppiness. The third and highest level of alarm is the fear that Amnesty may have willingly allowed its reputation to be compromised by some interest one can’t put a finger on. This gets the more disturbing, knowing the Yaounde regime’s own reputation for undermining the credibility of whoever it does business with. Could AI also have been infected by the equivocation virus that has reduced the UN, the AU and the Commonwealth to shadows of themselves, or even quislings? If organisations like AI also start speaking with forked tongues, on whose account of anything can the world now rely?
Conflict reporting that draws criticism from opposing parties is often assumed to be objective and balanced. The recent Amnesty International, AI, report on the Southern Cameroons crisis is a perfect example of how misleading such an assumption can be.It is by no means a dependable report just because it got the Yaounde regime’s ‘vuvuzela’ blaring so loud in protest as usual, while at the same time drawing salvos of censure from Southern Cameroonians.
If anything, this report seriously dents Amnesty’s image in the eyes of those who are looking up to it as a faithful watchdog on whose probity and integrity the world can count when it comes to conflict reporting and resolution.
This editorial would be far longer than that report itself if we were to itemise and comment on all its half-truths and omissions. Suffice it to say that if Amnesty International were a media outfit, a great part of this report would qualify for yellow – even armchair – journalism.
Whether all those truncated facts and all those errors of commission or omission were just the result of sloppiness or a deliberate act of misinformation, the report raises a crying need to set the record straight.
Let’s begin with the identities of the actors. In total superficiality the report echoes and amplifies Yaounde’s image of the conflict as being between the State of Cameroon and some band of secessionists. One would have expected AI’s reporter to dig up background information on this struggle. Such information, available at the UN if nowhere else, would have told AI that the parties to this conflict are two states, each of which had had an executive, a legislature and a judiciary, and one of which had made a sovereign decision to join a sister nation.
AI would thus have been able to qualify the present conflict appropriately as a reversal of that first decision – by seeking to relinquish and sunder a marriage that has proven faithless, loveless and hopeless after half a century of groaning. Amnesty would have helped the world to remember that Senegal and Gambia tried a union in the same circumstances and when it proved inconvenient, they were sensible enough to sunder it and remain good neighbours.
Coming to the nature of the conflict, it is most unhelpful on the part of AI to stop at saying there are acts of violence on both sides. Undeniable as this is, it is a half-truth. If AI had carried out a credible investigation it would have found out that there is no chicken-and-egg question as to who is responding to whose violence. Violence started, not the first day when somebody was killed, but the day the regime started trampling on the dignity of Southern Cameroonians in all those socio-political acts of marginalization that have been enumerated times without number since this crisis began. It increased when, over a period of more than 50 years the complaining partner was ignored or bullied into silence. The regime’s “what-can-you-do” attitude was sheer provocation and a call to another form of violence. With restraint, Southern Cameroonians responded with peaceful protests which gave the regime the pretext to crank up multiple forms of violence – arrests, rape, extra-judicial killings etc. Violence begets violence. When young people who have seen these bestialities visited on their kith and kin take up muskets and machetes and start fighting back – yes you can say there is violence on both sides, but one side is fending off an aggressor.
Even as an embedded reporter, AI would have seen that while the armed ‘restorationists’ direct their fire and fury at the instruments and agents of Government, the security forces are indiscriminate in their murderous repression. Soldiers or ‘restorationist’ fighters who are killed in combat will have died serving a country or a cause they believe in. But killings are reported every day of people who by their age and condition are manifestly non-combatant. Some are too young or too old to know anything about this conflict. One would expect all non-combatants suspected to aid or abet the insurgency to be arrested and tried, with due process respected, not summarily executed. Actions in the field show a level of impunity which the modern world cannot, must not, tolerate.
The report also indicated that both parties attack the civilian population. At this point one would challenge AI to actually go to the surviving towns and villages in Southern Cameroons and ask the frightened population who of the two forces they consider as the aggressor and who as their protector.
Amnesty is a well-known and respected human rights pressure group whose reports are expected to inform the international community’s conflict prevention and resolution action. The shortfalls of this report trigger three levels of alarm. The first is the beclouding impact it could have on the understanding of the Southern Cameroons conundrum by those who, over the years have come to rely on Amnesty’s probity. The second is the fear that this report bespeaks a break from that probity and a slump into unusual sloppiness. The third and highest level of alarm is the fear that Amnesty may have willingly allowed its reputation to be compromised by some interest one can’t put a finger on. This gets the more disturbing, knowing the Yaounde regime’s own reputation for undermining the credibility of whoever it does business with. Could AI also have been infected by the equivocation virus that has reduced the UN, the AU and the Commonwealth to shadows of themselves, or even quislings? If organisations like AI also start speaking with forked tongues, on whose account of anything can the world now rely?

Cavaye dribbles MPs on elections delay bill

Against a backdrop of effervescent anticipation from the public in general and lawmakers in particular emergent from a Presidential edict to Senate and House of Assembly Speakers urging them to facilitate postponement of parliamentary and municipal elections, Speaker, Cavaye Yegue Djibril took lawmakers and the lone Government Minister in attendance on Tuesday during deliberations at the National Assembly complex completely off guard when he instead announced the lone item on the agenda to be a bill authorising upward review of the 2018/2019 budget.
The surprise evoked by failure or deliberate eschewal of discussion on the much anticipated bill stems from the monumental import it ill will eventually have on Cameroon’s political landscape and, more significantly, the fact that Government statutorily had up to yesterday midnight to table the bill to the national assembly for eventual deliberation and promulgation into law. This is in addition to common knowledge of the eventuality of such a discussion, given that it had already been posted on social media and by that token would be accorded priority.
In the event, pundits are lost in contemplation as to whether a regime not known for respect of constitutional provisions will keep to its requirement that the head of state consults the National Assembly and Senate presidents for such an issue to be discussed and eventually given quietus for enactment into law.
Cameroon’s constitution, the supreme law of the land provides for postponement of elections under special circumstances including palpable insecurity and acute treasury malaise that may impinge on hitch free organisation of the ecercise. In the event that the constitutional provisions are met, the head of state has the prerogative to postpone elections for up to 18 months. And, this must be done 40 days before expiry of current mandate of the body whose mandate is to be extended or abridged.
This currently being the case in Cameroon, it is not surprising that the head of state had to write to the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly intimating them of his intention to postpone parliamentary and municipal elections for a period of one year, predicating his decision on the impossibility of organising three elections of universal suffrage within a month.
However, badmouths have been adroit in gainsaying the president’s inclination on grounds that he was very much aware of the task ahead of Government and confirmation of this is his allusion to it during his end of year’s message on December 31, 2017. How come it is only now that he is realising it shall not be possible?
They further contend that Biya is just a trickster who is seeking legality to perpetuate his stay as head of state after being convinced by prevailing circumstances in the country that he has lost legitimacy. More so, they continue that given the intensity of the crisis pitting his regime against Southern Cameroons separatists, Boko Haram insurgence in the Northern Regions and dire straits financial standing of the national treasury, he ought to have also, postponed the presidential poll.
The general impression is that postponement of the elections although justifiable at face value is a ruse to keep afloat a moribund regime that has been disavowed by the citizenry. They give teeth to their contention with occurrences like the invasion of the social media by a memo from the presidency that was yet to be acted upon by those to whom they were directed.
The president is said to have even been dumped by staff of his office who are supposed to have maintained a level of confidentiality commensurate with its stature and status. It is upon realisation of this uninviting turn-around of events and his avowed determination to cling to power until death that he has resorted to the current election roguery.
By Sampson Esimala

Akere sees Esso’s hidden hand in Muna family feud

It is certainly not what the venerable Honourable Solomon Tandeng Muna would have loved to be happening. Unfortunately, it is the case. But, thank God he did not live to see it.The media is awash with news of Akere Muna accusing the Government of attempting to foil his presidential ambitions by prodding his younger sister, Ama Tutu Muna to engage in a succession battle over their father’s estate.
Akere, who has declared to run for the Presidential election, was dragged to court earlier this year by sister and former Minister of Arts and Culture.
The former head of the Cameroon Bar Association, Akere, has since denied charges of forgery and attempts to side-line his sister in the partition of property left by their late father, one of the architects of Cameroon’s reunification, Solomon Tandeng Muna.
In a press conference to give his own version of facts on Thursday at his Bastos residence, Akere Muna didn’t pull any punches in addressing his sister.
Akere does not believe his sister would have engaged in such a battle after the family stood by her in all difficult moments, paying her debts and saving her from going bankrupt on several occasions.
He, also, dismissed the notion that he and his brothers are ganging up against their sister to side-line her from the family property.
“All the family has done is to assist her in her business, pay her debts all along, the only person who has benefitted to that degree from the estate is her (Ama Tutu Muna),” Akere said.
“She has risked two buildings to be sold; my brother, Humphrey (Muna) sold his only property…to pay her debt, my brother Humphrey was put to ridicule in Dakar (Senegal)…Hussiers (bailiffs) came to her house and carried all the things outside to sell because of her debts.
“So to think we will be ganging up against her is unfair and untrue,” Akere cried out.
However, the former Bar Council President feels the ensuing legal battle today is the handiwork of the Government through Justice Minister Laurent Esso, who wants to foil his presidential ambition.
“I am a declared candidate for the presidency, the Ministry of Justice is campaigning for another candidate (incumbent Paul Biya) If I am sentenced to jail (then) I am disqualified to be a candidate. I can only assume that if I am sentenced to a prison term, it will serve the other candidate, hence his surrogate,” Akere lashed out.
“So I don’t think there is any doubt about the fact that this matter is being handled from somewhere else and I can only see the Ministry of Justice.”
He went ahead to reveal the case has l taken a heavy toll on him financially as well as in his various legal battles but has vowed not to give up and even promised a “tsunami” if he was to be disqualified from the presidential race as a result of the succession battle.
Ama Tutu, last born of the Munas has remained tight-lipped since her brother’s outing but, a close aide who was contacted by The Rambler dismissed all claims made by Akere and promised to retaliate at the “appropriate” time.
By Francis Ajumane