Issa Tchiroma is very angry and disappointed with the Paris based international weekly Jeune Afrique. The Minister of Communication and spokesman for the ruling CPDM crime syndicate begged journalists to help the regime counter pressure coming from the editorial desk of Jeune Afrique during an animated press conference on Wednesday April 19, 2017 in the premises of the Ministry of Communication in Yaounde.
Issa Tchiroma observed that for six years, the Pan-African newspaper has been publishing malicious articles all in a bid to destroy the stability of Cameroon’s institutions, values and disfigure the perception that the whole world have of the nation. Tchiroma focused on the latest edition of Jeune Afrique that carried an interview with former Minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya, released two weeks ago and captioned “I advised Paul Biya not to run again for president, I am today paying the high price “.
During his exchange with media men and women, Issa Tchiroma denounced what he called the editorial fierceness of Jeune Afrique on Cameroon. The government spokesman came out fighting for Biya and the CPDM regime. Attached here are his opening remarks which we invite you to read:
MINISTÈRE DE LA COMMUNICATION
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATION
DENOUNCING THE ONGOING BIASED PROCESSING OF CAMEROON-RELATED INFORMATION BY THE JEUNE AFRIQUE WEEKLY MAGAZINE
INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT BY H.E. ISSA TCHIROMA BAKARY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION
Yaoundé, 19 April 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a recent issue, the Jeune Afrique weekly newspaper published the interview of Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA captioned, and I quote: “I advised Paul BIYA not to vie again for presidency, and I’m paying a high price for that”, end of quote. In this interview, Mr MARAFA was echoing his good old song on the status of his condemnation and, subsequently, his detention conditions.
As you are all aware, Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA is currently serving a 20-year jail term for intellectual complicity in the embezzlement of public funds to the tune of 29 million US dollars (about 14.5 billion CFA Francs), an amount which was meant for the purchase of a Boeing Business Jet 2 aircraft to be used for the Head of State’s travels.
This notwithstanding, Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA has kept on proclaiming to whoever wishes to hear him that he is innocent of the facts for which he was convicted, and that he is a political prisoner whose detention is merely arbitrary.
His last press outing goes along to support this same view.
In previous briefings with the press, I had, on behalf of the Government, explained the reason why Mr MARAFA is a prisoner under ordinary law, detained under the conditions that are fully in compliance with the rules and procedures in force under Cameroonian law.
Allow me to refresh your memory on the issue:
While serving as Minister, Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA, was tasked to carry out the procedure for acquiring an aircraft for the Head of State’s travels. To this end, he requested the services of the General Manager of the then National Air Transport Company, CAMAIR, in the person of Mr. FOTSO Yves Michel.
To carry out this mission, instead of directly contacting the BOEING company, the MARAFA-FOTSO pair, requested the services of a company named GIA International, which was till then unknown within the civil aviation world.
GIA International therefore acted as an intermediary with BOEING. As such, it was GIA that, on the order of Mr MARAFA, received the bank transfer of 31 million US dollars (about 15.5 billion CFA Francs) disbursed by the Cameroonian Government.
Alerted by the National Bank of Paris – which made the said transfer – on the lack of seriousness or even the insolvency of GIA International, the Government sent a control mission to the Boeing company. Thanks to this mission, it was found out that Boeing had received only 2 million dollars from GIA.
The questions which to date remain unanswered by those concerned and which have led the different jurisdictions dealing with this case to conclude that Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA and his co-convicts are guilty, thereby raising issues as follows: Where is the plane that was to be purchased and that was never delivered? Or, better still, where are the 29 million dollars entrusted to Mr. MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA for the purchase of the said aircraft?
The foregoing explanation on Mr MARAFA’s status of prisoner clearly indicates that he is a prisoner under ordinary law, since the offence of embezzlement of public funds of which he was duly convicted is an offence under ordinary law pursuant to Cameroon’s criminal law in any case.
With regard to the continuous claims of arbitrary detention by Mr MARAFA, it should be recalled that he had referred the matter to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, asking, on this alleged motive, for the rescission of his trial and his immediate release.
None of the reasons put forward by the UN Working Group and the requestor, however, resisted the analysis and responses provided by the Government.
It was therefore found out that Mr MARAFA’s detention did not suffer any irregularity, both in terms of form and substance.
The facts are therefore clearly established on the MARAFA issue that the Jeune Afrique weekly magazine decided to bring back to the limelight in one of its recent issues.
However, we can now ask ourselves questions on what could be the real motives behind the recurrent editorial hostility of this media in its processing of any topic relating to our country.
Allow me to present to you a few illustrations:
During the year 2011, on April 24 to be precise, the headline of the Jeune Afrique’s front-page was captioned: “How is Cameroon Doing?” Still in 2011, on October 10, the same newspaper made another attempt with another not less vindictive title: “Cameroon: Paul BIYA, for How Long?”
Still in 2011: “Cameroon: MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA out of the race, Cameroon, a minor people, a great danger”.
Let’s move on to 2012. It all started with Cameroon’s First Lady under the title: “Chantal BIYA, an Invisible Woman”, then on November 12 in the same year, the Head of State was targeted again: “Cameroon: 1982-2012, from BIYA to BIYA”.
The following year, on 16 July 2013, the Head of State was indicted against the northern regions under the title: “Cameroon: BIYA against the North”.
Two months later, this time, the magazine agitated the military scarecrow. The title alone spoke volumes: “Cameroon, a Worried Army”.
As of early 2014, Franck BIYA, the eldest son of the Head of State, was in turn targeted under the title: “Franck Emmanuel BIYA, an Influential Son”.
Then came the story on Guérandi Mbara captioned: “Guérandi Mbara: The Ghost of Etoudi”, then to end the year, a call to an uprising of youth under the title: “Cameroon: the Danger of the Youth”.
The year 2015 was the turn of an exclusive interview of Yves Michel FOTSO, Mr MARAFA HAMIDOU YAYA’s co-convict, under the title: “Everything is Done to Destroy me”.
Then came in 2016, the interview of the activist defendant of the rights of homosexuals, Barrister Alice NKOM, captioned: “In Cameroon, the Courts are Under Orders.”
Still in 2016, the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions gave way to another caption: “Cameroon: Anglophones are Sick of Francophones”, in addition to that of “The Intifada of Anglophones”.
The year 2017 begun with a barrage: first of all, Cameroon was accused of suspending the Internet network in the North-West and South-West regions without considering the legitimate reasons that led to this decision.
Subsequently, they waved the tribalistic sentiment under an incendiary title as headline: “Cameroon, the Bamiléké and Power”, a genuine call for hatred and social stigmatization.
And as I mentioned earlier, during the same period, the inevitable MARAFA issue resurfaced with an exclusive interview of Mr MARAFA under the headline: “I advised Paul BIYA not to vie again for presidency, and I’m paying a high price for that.”
Amid all this, nothing was said on the success of the Indomitable Lions at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the sixth of its kind, but a polemic headline: “How could the Indomitable Lions win the AFCON?”
Jeune Afrique makes no mention of it.
The foregoing non-exhaustive account of Jeune Afrique’s constant criticism levelled at our country is sufficient testimony that we are facing a genuine case of obstinacy, a deliberate will to undermine the stability of our institutions and our values and to misrepresent our country on the world stage.
What, therefore, may be the motivations and underlying reasons of such obstinacy?
Obviously, as it is the case with any criminal deed, the motivations remain covert. And in this specific case, journalism is a good excuse for such persecution. But then, are we still dealing with journalism when facts are gruesomely distorted?
If that is not the case, how then can we understand that at no given time this newspaper has thought it necessary to present events relating to Cameroon in a perspective other than apolyptical? Should we therefore understand that Cameroon is that lone country in the world where nothing positive ever happens?
Yet, the reality is the opposite, which Jeune Afrique always refrains from seeing and refuses to relate.
Cameroon obviously remains – and whether they like it or not – one of the leading countries in Africa.
In the CEMAC sub-region, our country always stands as the economic driver. At the time being, our economy is the most resilient to the crisis facing all CEMAC countries as a result of the collapse of oil prices and other raw materials. Jeune Afrique makes no mention of it.
Whereas several countries – and not the least – are today in recession, Cameroon’s growth rate stands at 5%, with a perfectly controlled level of inflation.Jeune Afrique makes no mention of it.
The Major Accomplishments policy launched by the Head of State is going on satisfactorily.
Transport infrastructure are undergoing a remarkable development, some of the most notable projects being the construction of the Yaoundé-Nsimalen, Yaoundé-Douala and Kribi-Edéa motorways, as well as the construction of the second bridge over the Wouri River in Douala, the East and West access roads to Douala. Jeune Afrique makes no mention of it.
The first phase of the Kribi Industrial and port complex has now been completed, and funding for the second phase is already available. Jeune Afrique makes no mention of it.
In the energy sector, the Lom Pangar, Mekin and Memve’ele dams are all in their final phase.
To these, we must add the ambitious Nachtigal Water Supply project, the boom of sports infrastructure, the technical rehabilitation of the CRTV, just to name a few. This is of no interest to Jeune Afrique.
To speed up economic growth in our country, the President of the Republic, His Excellency PAUL BIYA, has decided to set up a three-year emergency plan funded to the tune of nearly a trillion CFA Francs. This plan is today being executed, as well as the northern emergency plan which covers the Adamawa, North and Far-North regions. This is of no interest to Jeune Afrique.
On February 10, the Head of State further announced a special three-year plan for the youths, worth 102 billion CFA Francs, to promote the insertion of youths in the production channels and ease their operationalisation as development actors. The plan is currently in its implementation phase.
With regard to tourism, a true indicator of Cameroon’s attractiveness on foreign visitors, official statistics report a steady progress from over 669,000 tourists in 2010, 817,000 in 2012, 910,000 in 2014, to over one million tourists in 2015. Jeune Afrique remains unmoved.
In the area of peacekeeping, Cameroon is actively involved in the United Nations and African Union operations aimed at resolving crises and armed conflicts throughout the world. This has, in each case, earned our country the congratulations of the entire international community. Jeune Afrique remains unmoved.
In the same vein, our country is home to more than 600,000 refugees, to the satisfaction of international organizations and many friendly countries. This is of no importance to Jeune Afrique.
Faced with the aggression against Cameroon by the Boko Haram terrorist group, our Defense and Security Forces, after having led a victorious battle against the enemy, are today at the forefront of the coalition built by the front line countries to definitively boot out this other embodiment of international crime. When Jeune Afrique talks about it, it is just to blame the action of our Defense and Security Forces, to vilify them and cast the shame on them.
In the concert of nations, Cameroon and its illustrious head, His Excellency Paul BIYA, enjoy some respectability that no one could challenge, mindful of the values that they promote and of the respect of the leading principles of democracy and the rule of law.
It is clear that the Head of State of Cameroon is one of those leaders who are attracting the attention of the great nations, as testified by the visits paid by foreign Heads of State and Government to our country, and those paid by our Head of State to other countries, with exceptional echoes and substantial economic spin-offs.
Most recently, all Heads of State of the CEMAC member countries gathered around the President of the Republic of Cameroon at his invitation to discuss the economic uncertainties now facing the subregion.
We cannot fail to mention the striking success of the recent State visit of the President of the Republic to Italy at the invitation of his Italian counterpart. Not a word from Jeune Afrique.
Internally, and under the leadership of His Excellency the President of the Republic, Cameroonians have been able to build, around them and among themselves, an unshakeable culture of peace, unity and solidarity, which is genuine bedrock of the stability of our nation.
Of this array of merits and positive points that we have just mentioned, Jeune Afrique does not care and makes no mention.
Therefore, we are telling the Jeune Afrique international weekly magazine that Cameroon stands tall, under the esteemed leadership of a man: President Paul BIYA, who was freely chosen by his fellow citizens as an embodiment of their sovereignty. It shall so remain as long as the Cameroonian people will so desire.
Jeune Afrique and those on behalf of whom it is acting must know that the Cameroonian people is a mature people. No mermaid of instrumentalisation and destabilization may make them depart from the ideals of peace, unity and stability of the nation which they have made their core values.
We do not pretend that our country is an Eldorado, a long calm river, a world without hardships. Anyway, is there any such country in the world?
Cameroon is a young country, which has just reached its sixty years of existence as a State. It is therefore being built thanks to its dearest assets, namely harmony and the will to live together of its populations.
No Cameroonian therefore can remain silent faced with such obstinacy to undermine this aspiration, which is the fruit of a hard-earned consensus.
On behalf of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, therefore, I once again call on the Cameroonian people to remain vigilant in the face of all these maneuvers of manipulation and instrumentalization targeting them.
To you, Media men and women at the service of our nation, I invite you to respond to these perfidious and unhappy attempts with an objective commitment in the way you process information, sticking to the truth of the facts which is a principle of your noble profession.
In the present case, this is a duty of social responsibility and citizenship. That was, Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen, the substance of the communication for which I invited you today.
Thank you for your kind attention.