Election 2018: The Ambazonia Boycott and its implications for the people of Southern Cameroons
There are 3 major political blunders in the history of Cameroon that have significantly altered the destiny of Cameroon. I mention these just because decisions of great consequence only get fully understood with the passage of time. And within our current context, we need to appropriately situate the consequences of the decision of many to boycott the 2018 election.
My hope is that you will read this message, gain some benefit from it and use it to clarify your thinking in this moment of great confusion and pain for our people. Most of the decisions made today are done by individuals who I can criticize. However, the only active player I will mention is Biya – because he is the one we should be focused on replacing.
Let us go to the beginning…
- THE UPC BOYCOTT In 1955, the UPC decided to boycott the coalition proposed by Soppo Priso because they wanted France to leave Cameroon and grant immediate independence. Pierre Messmer, the French Governor cut a deal with Ahidjo that created the Mbida-Ahidjo government. This boycott resulted in the North-South alliance that has dominated politics in Cameroon for 57 years.
- THE SDF BOYCOTT – In March 1992, John Fru Ndi decided to boycott the first multiparty parliamentary election. Despite the boycott, the opposition comprised 51% of the parliament, which weakened the control of the Executive. From 1992 to 1997, many progressive events took place – AAC conferences, calls for a Constitutional Conference, the Tripartite talks and the 1996 constitution. This progressive trend only started failing after the return to parliament in 1997. Since 1997, the SDF has consistently lost seats in parliament and today controls 9% of the 180 seats. The insistence by Fru Ndi to remain opposition leader regardless of the series of successive defeats and the SDF’s inability to adapt into a true coalition remains the central contributor to the long-term impotence of the opposition.
- THE AMBAZONIAN BOYCOTT – On October 7, 2018, there will be a Presidential election in Cameroon. Paul Biya is at his weakest and the world is watching like never before. For the first time, there are credible opposition candidates and with advances in technology, it is increasingly difficult to rig an election where the opposition decides to compete. While many expect it to be a close election, the only way to get Biya out and contemplate a new political future for Southern Cameroonians is to bring the 800,000+ Southern Cameroonian votes into the coalition. This is the final option to resolve this crisis politically. If we boycott, the only option is a military solution.
With record by numbers of Southern Cameroonians fleeing, even to LRC, it is time for the Southern Cameroonians intellectuals to seriously weigh the options – particularly members of the Diaspora. Today, they cannot pretend that the problem does not exist. Most families have either lost relatives or know of others who are refugees or internally displaced.
There are many legitimate grievances we can lay claim to. However, any objective observer will agree that the amateurism of the people who claim to speak for all Southern Cameroonians has resulted in a loss of every opportunity to defeat Biya internationally and created a culture of violence and reprisals at home. By insisting that all Southern Cameroonians should tow the independence line, they have stifled the most fundamental of all freedoms – the freedom of thought, and have prevented the integration of majority of progressives who can add value to the range of options that must be employed to hold the Biya regime accountable in the court of international public opinion.
The fact that we have been rebranded from a peaceful non-resistance movement to a secessionist (and terrorist to some) organization is a testament to the failure of imagination and leadership of those who claim the right to speak for millions of Southern Cameroonians.
The time has come to put an end to this. It is not enough to think we must be monochromatic in our thinking because we are all Southern Cameroonians. Right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of the fact that we are all Southern Cameroonians. A government that raises 2 million dollars to create a 200 million+ dollars problem that is borne solely by the victims it claims to represent has failed. PERIOD!
We should stop deceiving ourselves that this interim government has the answers. We should stop deceiving ourselves that Biya is a regime propped up by France. The cooperation accords with France expired in 2010 and Biya did not renew them. The oil we keep saying is exploited by France is now owned primarily by the British, Chinese and the Russians. So how does our IG alienate France, ignore the British, Chinese and Russian interests and claim it is doing any work
By Eric Chinje