Official results of last Sunday April 14th senate elections in Cameroon have still not been confirmed by the Supreme court but the ruling CPDM party is expected to win more than 50 of the 70 seats that were up for grabs. SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi suffered a humiliating home region defeat to former Prime Minister and long time political rival Simon Achidi Achu in his North Western Constituency. The SDF however won 14 consolatory seats in the Western and Adamawa regions but the CDU of Adamu Ndam Njoya and UNDP of Bello Bouba Maigari have filed appeals at the supreme court challenging both results.
Senegalese president Maki Sall recently dissolved the country’s house of senate on grounds that the West African state could not afford to run one. President Biya took everyone by surprise when after a brief visit to France, he returned and called for the elections. Critics claim he was forced to do so by French president Francoise Hollande, the former colonial master of Cameroon.
Iroko learnt the French are worried at 80, Mr Biya has deliberately refused to prepare for his political exit.
The civil society in Cameroon has been very quiet about the worrying political situation in the country.
Kuissu Mephou Gerard is the National Co-ordinator of Tribunal Article 53, a Citizen Movement created in 2008 to “… judge Crimes Committed by Paul Barthelemy Biya’a bi Mvondo during his Terms of Office as President of the Republic of Cameroon”.
Mokun Njouny Nelson has been getting his reactions to the Senate elections
Q Like a civil society organization leader, what is your reaction to last Sunday’s elections?
I am disturbed because to me the senate election was a masquerade, due to the fact that the Electoral College was not legal and the electors were illegitimate. Again the way the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, SDF, collaborated with the ruling CPDM party leaves many questions unanswered. Lastly, senators are supposed to represent the Regions, but the Regions are not yet functioning; with the cost of running a senate I keep on asking of what service is the senate to Cameroon. So I am very worried for this country.
Q Do you not think President Biya’s main interest may be to ensure a smooth transition of power given that the President of the senate is interim in case for any reason, he can no longer carry out his functions?
It is possible that he may want to leave office not through a defeat in an election, if he would ever accept that, but by resigning and allowing the interim president who most probably would be handpicked, to control the situation. That is a possibility.
How can you explain the fact that the SDF decided to take part in this election after initially hesitating?
I think that of recent the SDFs’ collaboration with the CPDM is no longer a secret. It is unfortunate that it’s leaders may no longer be working for the interest of the people, but for their own interest and that of the ruling oligarchy. They are just giving legitimacy to the CPDM. Just like the other opposition parties, the UNDP in government, it has fallen into the trap of the CPDM marketing campaign, giving the wrong impression to the outside world that all is okay in Cameroon, when this is not the case.
What do you think should be done now to remobilize an already dis-illusioned population?
The situation in Cameroon is unique. We lack leaders, a leader who can bring everyone together, beyond tribes, beyond Regions, professions, religion; if this were resolved, we could soon get the people interested again in politics. We lack this charismatic leadership, be it in the opposition or in the civil society. We don’t have such a person for now. It is true there are some Cameroonians with such qualities but for personal reasons, have opted to be out of the political game for now.
My Biya has the latitude to appoint thirty 30 other senators to complete the list of seventy 70) that will be elected; who do you think are some of the kind of people the president will include in his list of appointees?
In Cameroon, there are many who are after honour and money, I know many people will gladly accept to be appointed by the president. You know the initial list created a lot of schism among the militants of the ruling CPDM. To pacify them, My Biya would certainly appoint most of them. And certainly those to be appointed would be those who will support his course.
Bad as they entire process has been, looking forward now, the senate will soon be established and its; president will become the second personality of the Republic, who do you think should be that figure?
It is very difficult to have a good president of the senate under the given circumstances; you can have a good president but with senators that are corrupt, elected under conflicting circumstances, it can’t work. But if by some extraordinary magic he appoints Cardinal Christian Tumi for example and by the same stroke, makes him senate president, you see that it may be difficult for him to work with unqualified senators. It is just like putting Eto Fils to play in a team of ten other useless players, he won’t score.
What then should be the way forward?
That is a difficult question. Cameroon is in a political impasse. Any solution seem complicated, the first step may be a round-table conference that will bring all the opposing sides across the country so they talk and come to a compromise. However, how do you get the party’s like the UNDP, SDF and many other opposition, civil society figures that I now consider fake opposition party’s to agree to anything?
I am afraid Cameroon might just descend into the kind of instability we now see in countries like Central Africa and Congo DR