For many members of the country’s ruling party, the Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement (CPDM), the spotlight should be on the upcoming elections, but that is not what is happening for now. The Southern Cameroons crisis has continued to monopolize the spotlight and this is hurting the ruling party which is already working hard to rig the upcoming presidential election.
However, the party’s rigging machinery seems to be facing some challenges, as other parties and their supporters are working hard to counter any sinister plans the ruling party may have. After more than two decades of election rigging in Cameroon, the ruling party is out of tricks. The people are sadder today, but wiser and this could be seen in the population’s total apathy towards the election. The government’s dismal economic and political performance has hurt many Cameroonians and this is coming back to haunt it, especially as Southern Cameroonians are still seeking to walk away from a fake union that Ahidjo and Foncha had hastily put together shortly after independence.
From every indication, Southern Cameroons does not seem to be part of the election planning programme. The country’s election body is at its wit’s end, as the fighting in the two English-speaking regions of the country rages on. Southern Cameroonian fighters have already warned Southern Cameroonians not to participate in an election they consider as a foreign election. The penalty for participation in the presidential election, they say, will be severe and any culprits may not have the time to regret their decision. This explains why there is no enthusiasm about the election in Southern Cameroons. Even the famous Yaounde-manufactured Southern Cameroonian elite is confused. Many members of this elite have been warned never to return home and many chiefs have been exiled, with many of them now living in Yaounde.
In many parts of the country, the leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) is making inroads, even in the Center, South and East province that used to be the ruling party’s stronghold. Years of false promises are gradually revealing the true picture of the ruling party. Many people around the country now hold that the CPDM is a real crime syndicate whose cardinal objective is to rob the nation blind.
The ruling party is today, the most hated party in the country. Corruption has been its hallmark for the last 30 years. It has really never won any election, but given that it is in control of national institutions such as the military, the constitutional council and the treasury, it has always found creative ways to stay in power despite its dismal economic record.
Though the ruling party considers itself as a democratic movement, its actions on the ground are anything but democratic. The chairperson of the party is the only authority who can decide on the fate of any party member. He chooses those who have to represent the party at all levels. The party’s secretary general is simply a pawn in the hands of the party chairman who is no other than the country’s president, Paul Biya, popularly known as the “monarch”, who has been in power for 36 years with nothing to show for his long stay in power.
The party is currently confused. No party convention has been held for more than a decade, and though Mr. Biya is considered as the party’s natural candidate, many party members are concerned about the party’s choice for this year’s election. Many argue in private that the party is starring down the barrel of defeat, as Mr. Biya has been the worst disaster that has ever happened to the country.
A member of the party’s central committee has hinted Cameroon Concord News Group that the party is gradually falling apart just as Mr. Biya himself who is gradually yielding to a failing heart and a distended prostrate. The party needs to carry out some fundamental changes. The country itself needs an extreme makeover and a sea change in economic policies will enable the crumbling economy to once more find its feet.
“Our party which many erroneously think it is a great party is coming apart. The internal succession battles are ripping the party apart. With Mr. Biya’s health going south, it is clear that his days are numbered. He has been the one holding the party together and now that many party members suspect his health is failing him, they think that someone else should replace him so that the party can have a fair chance at the upcoming presidential election. Mr. Biya seems to wield a lot of power both within the party and the country, but honestly, he is not the person running the show. The country is in very unsafe hands and those who have warmed their way into Mr. Biya’s heart are clearly mismanaging things,” the desperate CPDM Central Committee Member said.
He added that “what our country is going through today in the two English-speaking regions of the country clearly offer us a manual on how best to mismanage a problem. We have already lost more than 2,000 young men and women, including our uniformed officers who should have not been sent to the English-speaking regions in the first place. We of the ruling party must learn how to listen to our people if we have to endear ourselves to the population.”
He also added that “I will never say this in public, but I think the arrogance that has become the hallmark of my party is due to the fact that we have always rigged elections. If the people actually had to decide on who has to win elections, I think my fellow party members will learn how to be humble. Arrogance and greed are suffocating our country and the ruling party. Some people think the country belongs to them and anybody who holds a contrary view is immediately branded a terrorist. That is not how to run a country and a party. We have only succeeded to transform Cameroonians into our enemies and this gives the opposition parties a clear advantage.”
Cameroon, he underscored, was headed in the wrong direction. “We cannot continue to slaughter each other and the president is behaving as if nothing is happening. He has lost total control of how to address this huge fire that he ignited when he declared war on Southern Cameroonians. From every indication, it is clear that the government has not got a plan to put an end to this crisis. The soldiers are all trembling and the fighters on the ground have succeeded to intimidate everybody. Many of my colleagues who are either senators or parliamentarians are all scared of going to their constituencies. They know what awaits them out there. They have been working with the corrupt government to rob the people of their happiness and the time of reckoning has come. None of them can really stand up to the people’s scrutiny.”
“We all are scared. The country is gradually imploding and if we are not careful, we may go the way of many of our neighbors. I am not from Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia, but the pain and suffering the crisis in that region is spinning into the French-speaking part of the country is a great concern even to the president. With huge crowds moving into East Cameroon, it is clear that the Amba boys or whatever they are called could use that opportunity to set up shop in many of our big cities. This is no good news for many of us who really want a peaceful resolution of this problem.
“The fear is more unbearable when we see those videos of people being shot and killed at point blank in the country’s northern region. What will northerners be thinking of the country’s military which is predominantly Beti? The international community has clearly lost faith in us. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International are working hard to expose our government’s brutality and lack of respect for human life. I am indeed at a loss for words. The evil I see in our country leaves me awake all night. We cannot continue to pretend as if we are not human beings. If we cannot deal with the situation, then we should let the United Nations to come in and put an end to the needless killings that are giving our country a very bad name,” he regretted.
While Cameroon is falling apart, the country’s president is in Geneva, Switzerland, in search of proper medical attention for his failing heart and prostrate. The 85-year-old monarch, who has presided over his country’s destiny for almost 36 years, has been dealing with a failing health for more than ten years and his country of choice when it comes to treatment is Switzerland, where it is alleged that he has a horde of young girls who attend to him when he is there.
The very first results from the test carried out on Mr. Biya clearly indicate that the “monarch” has very little time to live. A source close to his entourage in Switzerland has hinted that the monarch has not got much time left, adding that the trip to Switzerland was prompted by the fact that his health condition was already becoming an issue to his close collaborators. Many of his collaborators fear that he might not be able to take the heat that comes with a strenuous exercise like an election campaign.
“The president is suffering. His health is a serious issue to his collaborators and many fear that he might not make it to the end of the year. He is suffering from shortness of breath and he can barely stand and walk. His wife and children are all in fear, as the 85-year-old has been spotting a sorrowful and lonely figure. There is bad news on the horizon. The fear is that if the president disappears from the scene, there could be some chaos in the country. For now, there is a lot of confusion and many of his collaborators have already begun jockeying for recognition as the next-of-kin even when the constitution is clear about what will happen in the event of a vacancy,” our source said.
It should be recalled that the Yaounde Nsimalen International Airport was blocked on the day Mr. Biya was leaving the country for more than five hours just for him and his huge entourage to travel abroad where they are supposed to spend millions of the tax-payer’s money at the Intercontinental hotel which is Mr. Biya’s hotel of choice. A source close to the hotel has hinted that once Mr. Biya and his bunch of kleptokrats are planning a trip to Switzerland, an ATM is set up for them, given their lavish lifestyle and huge appetite for exotic food and goods.
According to a Cameroon Concord News Group source at the Unity Palace, Mr. Biya has a Ghanaian doctor in Geneva who helps to screen all the girls who attend to Mr. Biya when he is in Switzerland. Our source, which elected anonymity, said that Mr. Biya has a special preference for Ghanaian girls and this has been facilitated by the Switzerland-based Ghanaian doctor whose address and phone number have been withheld for security reasons.
Mr. Biya has been using his country’s treasury for more than three decades as his personal piggy bank to pay for his lavish trips abroad. According to a recent report published on Mr. Biya’s trips abroad, it is alleged that he has spent more USD 64 million ever since he came to power. Costs related to his wife’s expenses are yet to be determined, but it is alleged that Mrs. Biya’s flaming red hair is costing the country a pretty penny. For dresses and shoes, they are costing the tax-payer an arm and a leg.
While Mr. Biya is away in Switzerland basking in other people’s wealth and development, his country is gradually falling apart. The killings in Southern Cameroons are on the rise. Cameroon, a country once touted as an oasis of peace, has finally been caught up in the throes of a huge political and economic crises that are ripping the country apart.
The country’s English-speaking minority has engaged the government in a fierce battle for its independence. An issue that started as a protest by teachers and lawyers has quickly developed into a bloody battle that has already resulted in the death of over 2,000 Cameroonians. For most of the dead soldiers, the government is still selling lies to their families that they have simply deserted the military.
The government had clearly miscalculated lots of things ever since the conflict with the country’s English-speaking regions started. It had thought using the military brutality it used in the 1950s and 1960s to quell a rebellion in the country’s French-speaking part of the country shortly after independence, would intimidate Southern Cameroonians into silence. It has, so far, burned down more than a hundred villages in Southern Cameroons, leaving thousands homeless and internally displaced, while hundreds of thousands have fled to Nigeria as refugees.
But this tactic is not working and it is not dampening the determination of the fierce Southern Cameroonian fighters. The strategy has fallen flat on its face. The English-speaking minority is united for a purpose. All attempts by the government and its agents to divide the people have failed woefully. Even money and food have not produced the miracle the government was expecting.
The government that is mostly made up of old and sick people is totally frozen in time. It has failed to figure out that changing times require different strategies. For the government, it only understands one language – an iron fist. But it is hard for old and sick people to deliver any real punches that will destabilize a well-oiled rebellion that is coordinated from abroad. An old person cannot have the right muscles to fight a war that will surely last for years.
The government has failed to understand that the dynamics are totally different. With the advent of social media, its atrocities will be clearly exposed. Southern Cameroonian fighters and the Diaspora are making the most of these technologies of freedom to fragilize a government that has lost its credibility.
But it is the financial role of the Diaspora that is hurting the government’s determination. The Southern Cameroonian Diaspora is large and rich. The Diaspora’s huge war chest is causing the government real nightmares. With some 4 million Southern Cameroonians living abroad, it will be hard for the government to easily wrap up this issue.
The huge fund-raising efforts out there are delivering incredible amounts of money. Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, London – England, Washington, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta have become money manufacturing sites for Southern Cameroonians who have vowed to destabilize Cameroon. The government stands a better chance negotiating than fighting enemies it is not seeing. The Southern Cameroons rebellion is an idea and not a person.
The very first victims of the raging conflict are the innocent civilians, but the Chiefs, Fons and so-called elites have also been made to lose their voices and influence. They have been declared non-grata in their constituencies, as they have been considered as government agents by the people of Southern Cameroons. The wave of kidnappings and drive-by shootings have clearly informed the government-created elite to shut up or else the fighters will come after them and their families.
Southern Cameroonians want to walk away from the fake union. They are sick and tired of being second-class citizens in a union they freely joined. After 56 years of marginalization, they think it is time to walk away. They have had enough and since the government had criminalized any discussion on federalism, they think a clear break from East Cameroon will bring them more peace and prosperity.
Cameroon is in for bad times. There is bad news on the offing. With the monarch fighting for his life, it is clear that the country’s future is bleak. If the world keeps on watching from a distance, then it will be considered as an accomplice when things spiral out of control. Cameroon is a ticking time bomb. The world still has some time to defuse this bomb that might bring down the entire sub-region. The division within the country itself is a course for concern. The world has to wake up from its slumber to smell the disaster that is in the making in Cameroon.
By Kingsley Betek