16, October 2018
Cameroon’s Constitutional Council that started hearing applications from opposition parties on election malpractice and irregularities today has rejected Professor Kamto’s request for recusal of Constitutional Council members on the basis that he did not have the capacity to raise the incompatibility of the members of the Constitutional Council. It was however said he could challenge the incompatibility of the person who appointed Council members and the person in question is President Paul Biya who himself was also a candidate in the October 7 presidential poll.
Knowing well that the outcome of the application could not be otherwise, Maurice Kamto felt it was necessary for him to follow the legal procedure as the best way to expose the Biya regime to the international community as being the judge and jury in a case on the country’s future and stability depend.
The debates are continuing, but what happened today during the hearing was just a foretaste of what will be playing out in the days ahead. In opening statements by Prof. Kamto’s legal team, the various lawyers called on the chair of the constitutional council to exercise justice, reminding him that the future of the country depended on whatever decision the Constitutional Council would take.
First to fire was Barrister Yondo Black who pointed out that all the members of the constitutional council were also members of the ruling party whose role in the just-ended election had been called to question. He added that the person who appointed them was himself a candidate in the election and it would be challenging to accept that the Constitutional council would be impartial in a case in which members of the constitutional council stood to gain.
For his part, Barrister Akere Muna added that Cameroon had never known a smooth transition as the country switched from a single party state to a single party democracy wherein the ruling party was in control of everything. He urged the President of the Constitutional Council to exercise sound judgement in taking a decision that could make or mar the peace of the country.
Other lawyers also pointed out the inconsistencies and the conflict of interest that would make it hard for the Constitutional Council members to be impartial. It should be recalled that the wife of the president of the constitutional council is a ruling party parliamentarian and the president of the constitutional council is still working as a lawyer and defending state interest with the latest situation taking place on September 30, 2018.
They also pointed out that various members of the constitutional council were either members of the central committee of the ruling party or had been appointed to serve as chairmen of the boards of directors of various state-owned corporation; a situation that made it hard for them to be impartial in addressing the post-electoral conflict in Cameroon.
With the application for recusal rejected, the debates on the various electoral irregularities will therefore continue and Cameroonians are looking forward to justice although many argue the outcome of the hearing is already known. With a Constitutional Council set up by Mr. Biya and comprising mainly members of his party, it is clear that many of the complaint on electoral fraud will be thrown out to give the incumbent another 7-year term.
Meanwhile, as the political crisis in Yaounde continues, the country has continued with its descent to chaos. In the English-speaking region of the country, the killings have continued and soldiers loyal to Mr. Biya are continuing with their rampage. They have shooting carelessly in major cities in the region and this has led to the death of many young men.
Cameroon’s downward spiral seems to be unstoppable. As the political situation continues to decline due to the presidential election, some people are secretly amassing weapons in preparation for a battle that might plunge the entire sub-region into chaos.
A cache of weapons was found yesterday on a bus heading to Foumban from Yaoundé. The bus company is known as “Super Confort” in French but, yesterday, the bus’ contents were something that could not provide any comfort to the country’s military.
It is interesting to know that arms are instead coming from the nation’s capital to the west. All the passengers on the bus had been detained at the Foumban police station yesterday, pending an investigation. All passengers on board had denied ownership or knowledge of the origin of the arms and this was indeed a cause for concern to the police who have been victims of firearms in Southern Cameroons.
Cameroon is currently awash with weapons ever since the government declared war on the English-speaking minority. Presently there is a lot of killing going on in Southern Cameroons, especially by a Beti Mafia unleashed by the defense minister, Joseph Beti Assomo, who is the architect of the military violence.
The violence was stepped up two weeks prior to the presidential election that is causing more tension in the country. The country’s presidential election is splitting the Francophone majority, with the Betis holding that power belongs to them and that it will be an aberration for Bamilekes to take over from the incumbent, Paul Biya, a native Beti himself.
From results obtained by Cameroon Concord News Group, it is clear that Prof. Kamto has won the election and since declaring himself president, the government has been arresting his party members and stationing troops around his house.
Prof. Kamto has promised that he would defend the mandate the people have conferred on him and that he would stop at nothing to ensure that the people’s wish is respected.
A view reiterated yesterday by his campaign director, Paul Eric Kingue, during a live broadcast on Facebook. He challenged the territorial administration minister, Paul Atanga Nji, advising him that no intimidation would stop the people from realizing their objective.
It should be recalled that the country’s presidential poll has been marred by many irregularities and some opposition parties have already taken up the matter with the appropriate authorities while other parties have simply called for a cancellation of the poll.
The results of the poll will be made public on October 22, and opposition parties are calling on their supporters to pour onto the streets if the Constitutional Council hands the victory to Mr. Biya who did not even campaign due to age and illness.
Mr. Biya has been in power for 36 years and has nothing to show for his time in power. The country is bereft of roads and its hospitals have been reduced to consultation clinics. The country has no reliable infrastructure and roads accidents in the country are amongst the highest in the world.
Unemployment has reached alarming rates and many Cameroonians are looking outwards for opportunities. If Mr. Biya wins, he will be ruling the country for another seven years and this implies the conflict in the two English-speaking regions will continue as he is in no mood to dialogue with the separatists.
Over the last years, the world has been calling for an inclusive dialogue but all the calls have fallen on deaf ears. Some 4,000 Cameroonians have lost their lives, including over 1,000 army soldiers as a result of the conflict, while more than a million people have been displaced both internally and externally. About half a million English-speaking Cameroonians are currently seeking refuge in Nigeria.
For those internally displaced, they are mostly in East Cameroon, but with the tension rising in East Cameroon following the presidential poll, most of those who sought refuge in major East Cameroonians cities are already heading back home to avoid any confrontation that might occur after October 22.
Cameroon is on the brink. The world might be ignoring a situation that could complicate things on the continent. With Boko Haram still an active threat in the North and Southern Cameroons separatists giving the government a run for its money, it is clear that the country might implode if the political crisis borne out of the October 7 poll is not addressed very fast.
By Kingsley Betek, Sama Ernest and Rita Akana in Yaounde