After throwing out Prof. Kamto’s application for members of the Constitutional Council to recuse themselves because of the numerous conflicts of interest outlined in the applicant’s application, the Kamto legal team put up an impressive show on the irregularities that actually marred the October 7, 2018 poll.
The team’s lead legal expert 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 result 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 at 9:30am Cameroon time after Council members were totally overwhelmed by the evidence Prof. Kamto’s team provided.
Meanwhile the Constitutional Council had rejected early on Tuesday the application for recusal filed by the Kamto Campaign. 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 judgment 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 Yaoundé 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.
By Kingsley Betek, Sama Ernest and Asu Vera Eyere