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The Biya-Kamto Impending Electoral Dispute

By Oswald Tebit
12 Oct 2018

With the US State Department stating that
“Any disputes should be resolved peacefully and through established legal channels”.

Which are those legal channels? The courts. Who appoints the Judges of the courts? Paul Biya, who is a player and referee in the electoral process.

Whether Kamto and Akere are lawyers is inconsequential.
Ask the SDF how many electoral cases & disputes they have filed since 1992. (Barristers, Kofele Kale, Ben Muna, Mbah Ndam etc).
I know many people will jump to say oh we are in 2018, it’s the android generation. And so what.
Will an android phone determine a case in court.

The 07th Oct 2018 Presidential Elections on Sunday was a ceremony. In fact a CPDM Ritual.
The reason why Ambazonian Strategist took the strategic move to ban the elections in Ambazonia.

The US State Department is requesting for all parties to follow due process.
And who has the institutions of due process in their favor – Paul Biya & CPDM.
Therefore being a lawyer is inconsequential if the courts and Judiciary are not independent.

I have said here time and again that electoral political transition in Africa through the ballot box is only possible through the following;

1) The establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission (Jerry Rawlings of Ghana and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria both establish Independent Electoral Commissions that led to their respective ruling parties defeat).

2) The goodwill and faith of the incumbent to concede defeat (Abdul Diouf of Senegal conceded defeat to Abdulaye Wade).

Case Precedence – Electoral Disputes in Africa

Camerroon Presidential Elections 1992
Paul Biya was declared winner.
John Fru Ndi was declared runner-up and placed under house arrest for 3 months. Paul Biya went on to govern without any serious threat from the SDF.

The 2003 Nigerian Elections
The results of the elections which were contested saw Olusegun Obasanjo won a second term.
The Nigerian Army was deployed to quell violence in several parts of the country.
Obasanjo went on to complete his second term of office.

The 2007 Kenyan Presidential Elections.
The results of these elections were contested by Raila Odinga who had 44% of the votes while Mwai Kibaki who won with 46% went on to be sworn President a few hours after the declaration of results due to the violence that erupted proceeding the declaration of the results.
The violence led to the death of over 1000 civilians in clashes with the Kenyan police.

The AU, EU & US intervened to negotiate a Government of National Unity which saw Raila Odinga become Prime Minister.
While Mwai Kibaki went on to complete his term of office.

The 2008 Zimbabwean Presidential Elections
The opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won with 47% but short of the majority required with Robert Mugabe coming second with 43%.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round on grounds of violence against his supporters.
Mugabe went on to win. However, the tensions that proceeded the elections led to the negotiations of a Government of National Unity in which Tsvangirai became Prime Minister.
Mugabe went on to complete his term of office.

The Current LRC Presidential Elections.

With the votes being counted, Maurice Kamto, the candidate of the MRC party has declared himself the winner.
This has led to tensions as to what will happen if he is not declared the winner on or by 22nd Oct when the Constitutional Council will declare the results.

Going by electoral disputes precedence in Africa, it is likely that Paul Biya will be declared the winner, as ELECAM is not independent.
This is likely to trigger violent protest in some of the strongholds of Kamto’s MRC party.

Going by past precedent, the Cameroon security forces will use brute force to quell these protest.

There is the likely hood, Paul Biya will succeed in crushing any protest and maintaining himself in power.

Unwilling to concede defeat in case of victory by Kamto, Biya will be sworn in as President for the 7th term.

Just like in past elections, the international community may criticize the elections but will fall short of requesting Biya to step down.

The international community will only request Biya to step down if Cameroon threatens to tear apart.

The Kamto campaign has a huge challenge in overcoming the various institutions in Cameroon that hold sway to the results of the elections.

What options are therefore left for Kamto? Would he follow up on his statement to fight till the end?
How will he fight? Would he follow due process to challenge the results in court or Would he consider an armed struggle?

Only time will tell.

YAOUNDE, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Cameroon opposition candidate Maurice Kamto on Monday declared victory in presidential elections, saying he had “achieved his goal” in Sunday’s vote and calling on President Paul Biya to hand over power peacefully.   

“I invite the outgoing president to organise a peaceful way to transfer power,” he told a news conference in the capital Yaounde, giving no results to justify his claim.

Kamto, who leads the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), was greeted by screams from supporters as he made his announcement. (Reporting by Edward McAllister Writing by Sofia Christensen Editing by Tim Cocks and John Stonestreet)

As Cameroon heads to elections, experts warn of the fallout from an ongoing separatist crisis in the Anglophone regions.

by Eromo Egbejule

WHAT IS THE ANGLOPHONE CRISIS?

  • Bilingual Cameroon, a union of two parts colonised separately by the British and the French, has long had a fragile harmony.
  • In 2016, the fissures grew larger as the Anglophone minority, protesting the imposition of French systems in the courts and schools were attacked, triggering a war between the government and separatists.

Yaounde, Cameroon – Last October, Fred Assam watched from his hiding place as government soldiers spoon-fed acid to the village chief’s son.

The 24-year-old knew it was time to flee his homeland.

He escaped his village of Mbenyan in southwest Cameroon with a small bag of clothes, abandoning the life he knew behind to the safety of neighbouring Nigeria.

“The soldiers were shooting everyone they saw,” he says from Agbokim, in southern Nigeria. “They killed so many young people in Mbenyan and other villages across the Anglophone regions.”

Assam is one of over 30,000 Cameroonians – including his parents with whom he reunited three months ago – from the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of the country who now live in refugee camps and settlements in southern Nigeria.

Discrepancies between the French and English academic, legal and administrative systems which have always existed concurrently, as well as cries of political and economic marginalisation, crystallised into a series of protests and riots in 2016.

That soon turned bloody as the government, in a bid to quell dissent, first ordered a three-month internet shutdown and deployed soldiers.

In January, separatists including Julius Tabe, the leader of the interim government of “Ambazonia” – the self-declared state consisting of the Anglophone regions – were arrested in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on charges of terrorism.

Back in Cameroon, young untrained fighters are embroiled in a battle with government soldiers, countering sophisticated weaponry with homemade guns, machetes and charms called “odeshi” to make them invisible and invincible.

Trapped in the middle of all this are the estimated 17 million Anglophone Cameroonians who form roughly one-fifth of the population.

I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents. There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.

AGBOR NKONGHO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA

Local groups say the number of people displaced from both regions has doubled to around 200,000 people over the last month and there are about 50,000 refugees in Nigeria.

The International Crisis Group, which says the international reaction has been muted, estimates that at least 2,000 people have died in the conflict, with another 170,000 displaced.

An unknown number of people are also sleeping in open forests in the absence of formal camps. There is a shortage of toilets and proper hygienic conditions for menstruating girls and women in the informal host communities.

Still, the country is pressing on towards an election on Sunday, as incumbent President Paul Biya seeks a seventh term in office.

Meanwhile, the government is headstrong about hosting a continental football competition next January despite the Anglophone crisis.

Observers and civil society leaders are worried about the government’s preoccupation with holding the elections and believe it is an attempt to paper over the cracks and present a united front to the international community.

“The reason I’m not contesting in this election is because of the current security situation,” says Kah Wallah, leader of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP) which is not presenting a presidential candidate.

“You have people sleeping in the open forests. There is conflict in six of the 10 regions in Cameroon. There is intense conflict in the northwest and southwest, then in the Far North [Region], you have about 300,000 people displaced by Boko Haram.

“In the East [Region], there is a spillover from the insecurity in Central African Republic. In Adamawa and the North [Region], there is spillover of the crisis in the East and Far North. There were over 71 kidnappings in Adamawa last year alone. I can’t contest an election with all this happening.”

Along with the secessionists are innocent citizens who have been arrested, detained and in the cases of some jailed for 15-year sentences or longer, on trumped-up charges of terrorism, says Agbor Nkongho, director of Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) in Buea.

Nkongho himself was detained for eight months last year at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde and his trial was adjourned six times before a military tribunal acquitted him last August.

“I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents,” he says. “There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.”

Mental health concerns

Beyond the detentions and displacements, there are concerns about the lingering trauma that could significantly hamper the healing and reintegration process for survivors.

Widows who have lost their spouses to flying bullets, children separated from their parents and citizens who have lost their incomes could have no life to return to.

For secessionist fighters, the option of an amnesty programme and “de-radicalisation” therapies are not on the table, as the government has reportedly backed a shoot-at-sight order with them as the targets.

“Election is overshadowing the crisis especially in the Francophone regions,” concurs Nkongho. “It is a non-issue in the south given the threat by the Ambazonia boys … We’ve not seen any plans to properly take care of the displaced people and the government is not admitting that there are refugees outside the country.”

Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered.

DR ERIC GOLA, MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST

The government’s humanitarian response has been underwhelming, say civil society leaders who point out that its relief programme factored in just 160,000 people, a number likely picked up from a UNOCHA report released earlier this year. The plan does not also address the urgent need for psychosocial support for the displaced population.

“The plan didn’t acknowledge refugees and so made no provision for those in Nigeria,” says Nkongho.

“Also, those who were to manage it are some of those seen as the enemy by the displaced and have no moral authority to implement things and distribute relief. We asked them to include civil society and the clergy who are neutral, but this wasn’t done. It has failed and it’s just a political scheme to show that President Biya cares.”

The CHRDA, which already provides legal aid and relief items to the vulnerable, is in discussions to get immediate psychological help for all those affected by the conflict.

Local churches are also gradually stepping in to fill the void by organizing small-scale trauma healing workshops, but there are few seasoned professionals to join in the process.

Abuse of substances like cannabis and tramadol is also common across both regions, warns Dr Eric Gola, a mental health specialist in Kumbo, in the northwest region.

Since the conflict began in 2016, he has been working with Berikids, one of the few rehabilitation centres nationwide.

“Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered. Soldiers raping.

“The Ambazonia boys are now taking up arms and getting involved in substance abuse to get courage to fight since they are untrained. It is affecting them mentally and rehabilitation centres will face a deluge in the post-war future because most families will have serious psychiatric cases because of the trauma of war.”

Gola was contacted a few months ago by some Catholic priests who wanted to establish centres for managing psychosocial disorders and post-traumatic stress conditions pending the outcome of the conflict. It’s a drive that he wishes the government had.

“The president declared war on Southern Cameroons,” he laments. “He has the yam and the knife to stop the war, release those in detention in connection to the crisis, demilitarise both regions and organise a dialogue with all parties concerned.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

On the surface, Cameroon’s regime projects an image of stability. President Paul Biya, at 85 the oldest ruler in Africa, is rolling comfortably toward an easy victory in Sunday’s election, extending his 36 years in power after eliminating the term limits that could have forced his retirement.

But beneath this façade, Cameroon is sliding toward civil war, and the election is unlikely to change that path.

Violence and military atrocities are rising. A separatist movement is gaining strength. There are killings almost every day. And there are growing calls for countries such as Canada to take a stronger stand against Mr. Biya.

The President has scarcely bothered to campaign, attending only one campaign rally so far. The election on Sunday is expected to give him a seventh term in office. But it won’t solve a conflict that has already killed about 600 people and forced about 300,000 to flee their homes over the past year.

In the country’s far north, the military is fighting the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. In the anglophone regions in the northwest and southwest, a separatist insurgency has triggered new bloodshed, with an estimated 1,000 fighters joining militia groups, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weaponry.

Of the 12 million eligible voters in Cameroon, only 6.6 million have registered to vote. Many people in the anglophone regions will boycott the election. Others will stay home for fear of violence. Vote-rigging is expected and the opposition is badly splintered.

“As election day approaches, tensions are growing and the government has become harder-line, opting for repression and peddling conspiracy theories in response to demands for social and political reform,” says a report this week by the International Crisis Group, an independent research organization.

Mr. Biya is showing little interest in seeking solutions. He routinely spends up to one-third of the year in luxury rooms at the five-star InterContinental hotel in Geneva, where he travels with an entourage of up to 50 bodyguards and butlers.

A growing number of U.S. officials and politicians have criticized Mr. Biya’s response to the crisis. But this has been outweighed by the support the Biya government has received from France and China, including investors from those countries.

The impasse could allow Canada to exercise some influence in Cameroon, analysts say. Cameroon is one of Canada’s oldest diplomatic allies in Africa, and Canada has sent it hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid. Since the 1960s, Cameroon has often ranked among the biggest recipients of Canadian aid in Africa. Cameroon’s diaspora community in Canada has been urging Ottawa to take action. And Cameroon’s Prime Minister Philémon Yang spent 20 years as the country’s ambassador to Canada, where he earned a graduate degree from the University of Ottawa.

Despite these connections, Canada’s public response to the worsening violence in Cameroon has been “surprisingly muted,” according to an analysis by Chris Roberts, an Africa politics scholar at the University of Calgary, in a report published by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“Canada’s limited response to the crisis this year comes across as either obliviousness or conscious avoidance,” he said.

On June 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Mr. Biya by telephone. But a statement issued by Mr. Trudeau’s office gave no indication that they discussed the political and military crisis in Cameroon.

Instead, according to the statement, the two leaders had “an in-depth discussion” about the Francophonie, the organization of francophone countries, and about the candidacy of former Canadian governor-general Michaëlle Jean, who is seeking a second term as Secretary-General of the Francophonie. The statement said Mr. Trudeau “reiterated to President Biya” that Canada is pushing for another term for Ms. Jean.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office declined to say whether other subjects were discussed in the telephone call.

The statement “reinforced the outward appearance of status quo normalcy … despite the deteriorating situation,” Mr. Roberts said in his report.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Canada is “deeply concerned by the continuing violence in western Cameroon” and is “troubled” by the deaths there.

“We remain alarmed by repeated attacks, including those against schools,” he said in response to questions from The Globe and Mail. “We have raised these concerns directly with the government of Cameroon and will continue to do so.”

THE GLOBE AND MAIL 
 

On Monday Oct. 1, Cameroon’s Anglophone separatists marked the first anniversary of their self-declared breakaway state, the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (Southern Cameroons) in a somber mood. This was a marked difference from last year’s outpouring of celebrations and rhetoric by locals to unilaterally and symbolically the declare independence of Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions.

That was because both the Cameroon government and the separatists themselves had decreed a total lockdown for the date, Oct. 1 and beyond—with an eye on a contentious national election less than a week away.

In order to circumvent the type of massive mobilization of English speakers which saw thousands on the streets last year, the government placed restrictions on movement. In the north-west region, movement of persons from one sub-division to another was prohibited for a period of 48 hours, spanning from Sunday Sept. 30 to Monday Oct. 1. The public gathering of more than four people was also temporarily outlawed. This added to a dusk-to-dawn curfew earlier in place.

The governor of the north-west region, Lele Lafrique Tchoffo Deben Adolphe said the temporary restriction of movement of people was an “appropriate measure taken to guarantee security of its citizens and their properties before, during and after this day [Oct. 1].”

In the south-west region, similar restrictions, including shutting down of all businesses, suspension of socio-cultural meetings, closure of motor parks and ban on circulation, were instituted by local administrators.

AMINDEH BLAISE ATABONG
A deserted street in Buea, Cameroon

However, despite the measures, pro-independence English-speaking Cameroonians hoisted the blue-white flags of Ambazonia, and chanted their national anthem in some towns like Muyuka, Santa, Pinyin, Fontem, Ndu, Bafut, and even in far-off London where demonstrations took place.

For their part, separatists started enforcing a lockdown expected to end on Oct. 10, in a bid to frustrate political campaigns and a presidential poll on Oct. 7 in the two English-speaking regions.

The lockdown and the fear of being caught up in fresh clashes sparked the mass exit of people. Thousands of residents in the north-west and south-west regions have crossed over to the French-speaking parts of the country while others have gone abroad. In the south-west region alone, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 246,000 people have been internally displaced, with a further 21,000 having cross over the border to Nigeria as refugees.

To enforce the lockdown, separatists have sabotaged bridges linking different localities and used trees to block major highways in the restive areas. On Sept. 30, no fewer than five vehicles were set ablaze along the Kumba-Mamfe road and the wreckages used to block the road. Gunshots were also heard in towns like Buea and Bamenda, while clashes between the warring parties get more frequent and deadly.

Armed separatists are determined to forestall any election in “their region.” However, Paul Atanga Nji, Minister of Territorial Administration has said the presidential poll will take place across all 360 sub-divisions of the country, including those in the embattled English-speaking regions.

The race to for president involves nine contenders, including incumbent Paul Biya, 85, who is seeking to extend his 36-year rule by another seven years. Biya is campaigning on his “force of experience” to floor his eight challengers in the Oct. 7 poll. There is little likelihood the incumbent won’t win. Besides the fact that Transparency International says elections in Cameroon are often marked by irregularities, the challengers will have to share opposition votes, giving Biya an edge in a one-round election in which one requires just the highest number of votes to emerge winner.

President Paul Biya has reiterated his resolve to end the conflict which started as a modest protest by English speakers against real and perceived marginalization by his Francophone-dominated government. While launching his bid for re-election in the northern city of Maroua, on Sept. 29, he claimed the state had overcome the toughest ordeal in the conflict-ridden regions.

By Amindeh Blaise Atabong in Buea Cameroon

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