By fixing Cameroon’s maiden Regional Elections for Sunday, December 6, 2020, President Paul Biya has sent out a strong message that no threat from the opposition can deter him from pursing his life presidency project.
Through decree no. 2020/547 of September 7, 2020 to convene the electoral colleges for the election of Regional Councillors, Biya has opened the political play field for uncertain days.
The Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM of Professor Maurice Kamto has sworn to not only boycott the polls, but to make sure that the elections do not take place under the current circumstances.
The party that claims its candidate, Maurice Kamot won the 2018 presidential elections boycotted the February local elections citing flaws in the electoral code and the deepening crisis in the North West and South West Regions.
Kamto said on September 1 that he will lead street protests should Biya go ahead to convene regional elections.
The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, Ni John Fru Ndi said on September 2 that his party will not participate in the regional elections. He restated his party’s wish for Cameroon to return to a federal form of governance, resolve the Anglophone crisis and review its electoral laws.
The Cameroon People’s Party, CPP, of Edith Kah Walla and the Popular Action Party, PAP, of Denis Njang, as well as the United Socialist Democratic Party, USDP, of Prince Ekosso have all sworn to lead popular protests to get an end to the Anglophone crisis and cause a review of the country’s electoral laws.
Despite these opposition voices, Biya has appeared unmoved. Before convening electors to the polls this Monday, the President signed two decrees last week detailing the number of seats per division, as well as setting the modalities for the imminent polls.
Decree N° 2020/527 of September 2, 2020, fixes the conditions and terms of payment of members of the Electoral College while Decree N° 2020/526 of September 2, 2020, fixes the number of seats for regional council per division and per category.
Article 2(1) of Decree N° 2020/527 of September 2, 2020, states that during the election of regional councillors, members of the electoral colleges shall be entitled to a lump-sum allowance to cover the cost while Article 2 (2) specifies that FCFA 50.000 will be allocated to each and every member of an electoral college who effectively participates in the election.
The election of regional councillors comes to fulfil provisions of Part X, Articles 55 to 62 of Cameroon’s Constitution of 1996 with amendments through 2008. As part of steps towards resolving the protracted crisis in the country’s North West and South West Regions, the General Code on Regional and Local Authorities was adopted in 2019 in view of deepening decentralisation.
In June, the election management body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) announced its readiness to organize Regional Elections once the date is fixed.
Last week’s decree fixing the number of regional councillors per division and per category was received with mixed feelings in some areas.
In the South West region, for example, of the 90 regional councillors, Fako Division has 24, Meme 18, Ndian 16, Manyu 13, Kupe Muanenguba 10, and Lebialem 9. The lion’s share harvest by Fako division has been the subject of grumbling. Although some say the distribution of seats is influenced by the number of subdivisions, others say if that were to be the case, then Ndian would have been on top, The SUN reported.
While Fako has 24 seats with only seven subdivisions, Ndian with nine subdivisions could only have 16 seats behind Meme Division that had 18 seats with only five subdivisions.
With the North West and South West Regions to have 20 traditional rulers as part of the 90 regional councillors, just like any of the other eight regions, many are now seeking to know what form the Special Status for the English-speaking regions will take.
Officials of the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development have been quick to point out that the Special Status package is in gestation and will include a House of Chiefs exclusive to the two Anglophone regions.
Atanga Nji says it shall be fire for fire
Hours after electors were convened to the polls, the Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji said anyone who dares to impede the electoral process in any way shall face the music.
He cited laws that punish such protests with life imprisonment, reminding professor Kamto that he could be rearrested at any time if he breaks the law.
The convening of electors to regional elections has thus thrown the ball into the court of the opposition. It remains to be seen if they will bark and bite this time around.
Kamto’s September 22 revolution
Monday night, Kamto said he will lead a mass protest beginning September 22. This is in defiance to the threats of life imprisonment being made by government.
Pundits are wondering if September 22 may be the beginning of a Mali-like situation for Cameroon.
In Mali, the military supported street protests and eventually arrested President Ibrahim Keita and Prime Minister Buba Cisse. After Keita’s arrest, he resigned and dissolved Parliament.
The masses are looking forward to a similar feat in Cameroon. President Biya has been in power since 1982 and it is not surprising that many Cameroonians want to get rid of him because they see him as a symbol of French influence in the country.
Just like the January and June 2019 MRC white marches, a huge segment of the Cameroonian population is expected to follow Kamto when he leads the September 22 revolution.
A liberation and popular uprising is expected to flush out the Biya regime and end his life-presidency project.
France continues to actively participate in the affairs of its former colony of Cameroon decades after the country’s independence, and under various pretexts maintains ties detrimental to the local population.
If the opposition leaders in Cameroon show willpower and act on behalf of the people, they most likely will free the people from Biya’s veiled dictatorship.
Mimi Mefo Info