In Cameroon, government actions are cloaked in mystery and shrouded in secrecy. It can be difficult to parse rumors from truth, inconsequential events from those of significance, facts from fiction. In 2018 alone, President Biya postponed parliamentary elections to 2019, appointed 70 of 100 total senators, and has now officially been declared the winner of the October 7 presidential election. The presidential election, though, was like something cooked up in a Hollywood writers’ room. At one-point, President Biya announced the election date via his twitter handle, shocking domestic and international communities. Next, though no formal Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party congress was convened, and no candidate was officially designated (as required in the party charter),Biya declared that he would run in the elections. Then, he snubbed the electorate. He did not campaign as a candidate for the highest office in the country. He staged one 20-minute rally in the Far North region, and that was it.
A more striking incident passed by unnoticed. Biya and other opposition candidates did not campaign in the Anglophone regions of the country, the North West and South West. Only Akere Muna of the Popular Front for Development Party visited, and he only went to Limbe, a French dominated city in the South West Region. The fact that Presidential aspirants, including Biya, avoided the Anglophone regions sends an unmistakable message to the international community – Ambazonia is a new country in the making.
What scared Biya and the other candidates away from Ambazonia? Earlier in the year, Ambazonian Restoration Forces attacked the Minister of Defence’s convoy in the South West Region. This attack suggests that the seed of freedom has been planted in the hearts of Ambazonians that All-Or-Nothing Law now applies—we live free forever or we all die today. Of course, only one is true—we live free forever. The Cameroon military cannot kill the 8-million Ambazonians that it would take to end the Ambazonia freedom struggle. Even if Biya’s soldiers were able to kill all 5-million Ambazonians living within Ambazonia territory, the 3-million Ambazonians in the Diaspora would fight on like Israelites until they reclaimed their God given birth-land.
The Interim Government of Ambazonia, currently in exile, is steadily establishing institutional structures that would enable United Nations (U.N.) Member States to politically recognize Ambazonia as an independent and sovereign state. This could be a significant development in the Ambazonia war of independence. U.N.Member States would bring the Ambazonia case before the appropriate U.N.Committees for deliberation and decision.
Supporters of the Ambazonia independence struggle within the African Union and European Union see Biya and his tribal oligarchs as responsible for massive tax evasion and significant non-performing loans, and many understand that people’s standard of living now is considerably worse than in the pre-Biya era. Moreover, the 1961 U.N. decolonization process for British Southern Cameroons remains incomplete; although French Cameroun and Southern British Cameroons entered into a confederacy union of equal partners, for over half a century the successive governments of French Cameroun have systematically eroded the founding norms of the union such. The French Cameroun governments have changed the constitution, adopted a despotic rule, and oppressed the Anglophone minority.
The long list of institutional abuses and usurpation of the fundamental rights of the people of Ambazonia reached a breaking point in 2016 when government forces brutally cracked down on peacefully protesting lawyers, teachers and students. The die was cast in November 2017 when President Biya declared war against the unarmed people of Ambazonia for exercising their right to ensure their future security by declaring independence. Together, these developments have triggered decolonization experts and relevant stakeholder governments to re-examine the UN-plebiscite policies that encouraged two separate UN territories — English West Cameroon (then Southern Cameroons and now Ambazonia) and French East Cameroun (La Republique du Cameroun)—which would co-exist under a federal system of governance. The Biya government, though, is bent on assimilating an entire neighbouring country of people who have their own distinct identity and culture.
The evidence speaks for itself. After the people of Ambazonia declared independence on October 1 of 2017, Biya’s government responded to peaceful protests with barbaric methods of suppression, including murder, rape, executions, assassinations, kidnap, torture, and dehumanizing treatment. Biya’s presidential win, as declared by the Constitutional Council, has proven that countries cannot be forced to unite and coexist in the absence of democratic institutions, shared values, and economic and political freedoms. Two countries with irreconcilable differences cannot exist peacefully in an oppressive political union. Indeed, the fiasco of the presidential election has proven that restoration of Ambazonia independence is right, legitimate, and practicable against the Biya-loyalist propaganda of an internal issue.
The regime used a new, never-seen-before tactical tool to accomplish its election fraud. Prior to the official announcement on Oct 22, Biya’s government, in collaboration with Cameroon’s electoral body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) and the Constitutional Council (CC), leaked tailored election results in which he won with 71.28% vote, followed by Kamto with 14.23% of the vote, in order to test public reaction. The reaction was as expected. Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) party and Osih of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party petitioned the Constitutional Council with 18 distinct cases of fraud. The Constitutional Council rejected all cases within hours. The questions remain: when did the judges conduct investigations? Review the cases? Deliberate to demonstrate fair and credible procedures that would merit public confidence in their capacity for institutional oversight? Even worse, the Constitutional Council judges defended the completeness and correctness of the leaked election results. Where in the world does the highest court of the land demonstrate partiality and bias in broad daylight? Only in Cameroun. At the time, it was disconcerting. But when the same Constitutional Council declared Biya the winner of the election on Oct 22 using the same earlier leaked results – then it became momentous.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai
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