Brute force has been the main weapon of the regime in Yaoundé as it has sought to crush growing Southern Cameroons uprising and quest for an independent state, killing thousands of people including women and children and torturing hundreds more. But the entire Cameroon nation has also been besieged by relentless propaganda.
In a political campaign period that has seen at least 98 die and escalating violence in all of Southern Cameroons, state radio and television including private media organizations owned by regime cronies have been blaring out songs exalting the 86 year old President Biya as the father of the nation with some anointing him president for all eternity.
The ruling CPDM crime syndicate supports President Paul Biya, one of the world’s oldest and longest-serving leaders, who has ruled with a steely fist for 37 of his 86 years. Sunday’s parliamentary and local council elections took place for the first time in seven years, after two postponements.
Despite the delays, campaigning was low key and the few banners put up in the nation’s capital, Yaoundé by the consortium of CPDM crime syndicates were barely more numerous than posters calling on people to pick up their litter.
The numerous baseball caps, T-shirts and flags adorned with President Biya’s face were difficult to find this time around as the “river of money” in Southern Cameroons has gone dry. CDC, PAMOL and SONARA are all facing problems and these are corporations that have stood the government in good stead over the last fifty years.
A state television interview showed Biya making a mockery of major opposition parties that boycotted the poll while a handful of regime supporters chanted that they would shed blood for their president.
But as President Biya’s use of force has failed to crush the Southern Cameroons revolution, now in its fourth year, propaganda has become a key element of the regime’s efforts to rally support.
The Biya regime propaganda is relentless and has successfully hijacked the idea of national identity and is pushing divisions. Yaounde’s official rhetoric is now tribal and a cream of French Cameroun political elites are blaming the Southern Cameroons diaspora and Ambazonia Self Defense groups for the violence.
The Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo crude misinformation has so far been surprisingly effective because there is no independent media in both French and Southern Cameroons. Correspondingly, reporting is difficult and news comes mainly from witnesses and amateur film footage.
The Biya regime and its French Cameroun opponents have become increasingly polarised, raising the spectre of clashes soonest in French Cameroun where tribal tensions are rising amid claims that Bamilekes are being targeted by the country’s secret service.
The voting in Southern Cameroons appeared to have been done by members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) deployed to the territory now known as the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. The whole process was teleguided to guarantee a crushing victory for the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement which in the outgoing parliament had 148 out of 180 seats.
There is one small thing, small but great and it is that even in Yaoundé, enthusiasm for Biya and his ruling CPDM crime syndicate has now been subdued, with no crowds running behind Biya anymore.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai