Cameroon’s Presidential Poll: An exercise in futility 0

The hearings at the Constitutional Council continued on Wednesday with Prof. Kamto’s team producing more evidence to convince the Biya appointed Constitutional Council to understand that a decision other than the one that confirms the people’s choice might plunge the country into a spiral of violence and destruction.

The Kamto team, consisting of the country’s finest lawyers, proved that the country’s laws had been designed to favor a particular presidential candidate, as all their complaints before and during the presidential election had been clearly ignored by ELECAM, the country’s election-organizing body.

But the icing on the cake came when Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor-Balla spoke to the Constitutional Council, urging its members to listen to the people’s wishes and aspirations, as there could be consequences that might come with lots of regrets.

He called on the Constitutional Council to understand that when the people do not get listened to, there will always be adverse consequences. He recalled that since the government failed to listen to Southern Cameroonians lawyers and teachers in October 2016, the country has been going through a tough time and that the fear of a separation was real.

He underscored the point that no law or ordinance could be mightier than the will of the people. He recognized the capabilities of the members of the constitutional Council, urging them to prove that the country was bigger than any individual.

He pointed out that many leaders would come and go, but Cameroon will always be around and it will be prudent and wise for the Constitutional Council to take a decision that would give members of that august body an enviable place in the country’s history.

Another brilliant barrister who distinguished himself as a legal force to reckon was Barrister Ikome Mbella of the Southwest region who drew the Constitutional Council’s attention to the tragedy unfolding in the two English-speaking regions.  He advised Constitutional Council members to do justice to the people of Cameroon to prevent the country from being caught in the throes of chaos that might destroy and interrupt lives.

Other lawyers weighed in on the matter, urging the Constitutional Council member to do the right thing. Some advised them to understand that though they had been appointed by the country’s President, Paul Biya, they still had the right and obligation to exercise their right to apply the law as expected by the people of Cameroon.

It should be recalled that the Constitutional Council had been created by Mr. Biya and all its members are supporters of the ruling CPDM. The wife of the president of the Constitutional Council, Clement Atangana, is a CPDM parliamentarian, the wife of Mr. Fouman Akame is also a CPDM parliamentarian, and Professor Joseph Marie Bipoum Woum was a minister under President Paul Biya and chairman of the board of directors of several state-owned corporations.

For her part, Justice Florence Arrey, another member of the Constitutional Council, is the recognized long-term girlfriend of the country’s current justice minister, Laurent Esso, and the two have a couple of children from a relationship that has lasted decades. Laurent Esso, it should be underscored is President Paul Biya’s closest collaborator and he played a significant role in the establishment of the Constitutional Council and the appointment of its members.

This therefore compels many Cameroonians to think that the hearing at the Constitutional Council is indeed an exercise in futility as all members of the Constitutional Council are related to the ruling part and have all been compromised.

Meanwhile, after throwing out Prof. Kamto’s application for members of the Constitutional Council to recuse themselves yesterday in the morning because of the numerous conflicts of interest outlined in the applicant’s application, the Kamto legal team on Tuesday put up an impressive show on the irregularities that actually marred the October 7, 2018 poll.

The team’s lead legal expert, Barrister Ndoki, put the team’s collective effort and determination to expose the ruling party’s sloppy rigging strategy on display. The team outlined cases of massive fraud, with numbers for many polling stations not adding up and some results report signed without being properly verified if they had been signed by the right persons. The reported cases of fraud concerned, in particular, the Far North, the South, and the Northwest and Southwest regions.

In the two English-speaking regions, it was reported that since the population had been chased away by government forces that had resorted to shooting young men, army soldiers voted as many times as they could, oblivious of the fact that everybody was aware that the population had moved into East Cameroon and on voting day, there was no security for those who wanted to venture out to vote.

Some of the results reports did not even have the signatures of the returning officers and where there were signatures, the number of signatures on the first pages did not match the number of signatures on the following pages. Some results reports were produced based on the recommendations of the authorities who, in many cases, were ruling party supporters.

In the Far North region which has been given to Mr. Paul Biya, the number of votes cast was higher than the number of registered voters. The CPDM rigging machine in that region had actually worked overtime and it failed to take into consideration the number of registered voters.

But it was in the South region, which is the president’s region which the ruling party felt that it had a free hand to do whatever it wanted. Its sloppiness resulted in many mistakes, with even dead people voting.  The Constitutional Council session was put off to Wednesday after Council members were totally overwhelmed by the evidence Prof. Kamto’s team provided and this great legal team has continued on Wednesday to prove that the election had been marred by irregularities just to give Mr. Biya an advantage that might extend his stay in power.

Cameroon is at the crossroads. The country’s history is being rewritten and the Constitutional Council has a place in this effort to bring peace, stability and justice to a troubled country. Members of the Constitutional Council might have been compromised, but they still have an obligation towards the people of this country that has been in the spotlight for decades for all the wrong reasons.

By Kingsley Betek and Sama Ernest in Yaounde