By Mokun Njouny Nelson
After skilfully failing to groom anyone to succeed him, Cameroons ailing president Paul Biya 80, might now be considering moves to control who takes over from him after he called Senate elections for April 14. The president of the senate becomes interim president in case of the death or incapacity of the incumbent president
The 2008 constitutional changes that led to nationwide riots and controversially provided president Biya immunity from prosecution apparently was still not enough protection to guarantee Mr Biya controls who succeeds him which might be why he is now calling the elctions after a 17 year delay.
Opposition SDF Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi initially refused to take part in the elections but backtracked two days later claiming his party needed to be part of the process to select the next president . Against all expectations, John Fru Ndi will be a candidate and will face off former Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu in his Santa constituency. The last time both men clashed was in 1988, a battle Simon Achidi Achu won under controversial circumstances. Fru Ndi has promised to triumph during the April 14th elections but this might not be as easy as he thinks. The CPDM now has one of the most sophisticated rigging machines in Africa according to most analysts.
Low Keyed Campaigns
Only the Campaigning for the elections have low keyed across the country following nationwide apathy after President Paul Biya signed a decree February 27 convoking the electorate. Only local councillors across the country will be voting for the 70 senators that will sit in the new house of senate. President Paul Biya will appoint the remaining 30 members. CPDM party Secretary General Jean Nkuete apologized to militants for the mix up that led to the rejection of its lists in the Adamawa and Western Regions.
Political analysts in and out of Cameroon have been unanimous in their condemnation of the legitimacy of the elections. The mandate of the 10.636 councilors that make the electoralcollege expired and was only extended by presidential decree.
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh Senior Associate for Africa at Washington based National Democratic Institute NDI qualified the elections as “useless and a waste of resources…President Paul Biya should have just appointed all 100 senate members instead of wasting resources on an elections that does not change anything”.
The ruling CPDM alone has 9.032 councilors of the 10.636 who will be voting making the results a forgone conclusion.
Presidential hopeful Kah Walla of the CPP party is presently on a cmapaig tour in the United states to explain to Cameroonians there why her party will not be taking part in the elections she qualifies as “useless”. The mandate of the electoral college made up of councellors had expired (extended by presidential decree) and the electoral demographics have changed since 2007 when councilor’s were elected
Eyong E Eyong, a Douala based lawyer and candidate for the People Action party PAP (led by Ayah Paul) holds that the elections are “legitimate since our constitution makes provision for the president to extend the mandate of the councillors who make up the electoral college”
The CPDM is widely expected to win the elections and will provide the senate speaker who becomes the president for three months during which he is expected to call for fresh elections. Speculations that former Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu will be the preferred Speaker were dispelled by sources in the CPDM secretariat who claim Achidi Achu is too old for the position. He also needs to beat Fru Ndi in his home turf.
Fru Ndi has promised to have an easy win in his home constituency but that will not be easy considering the political intrigues of the ruling party and its desire to appear as the only national political force in the country. There was widely condemnation when it became apparent John Fru Ndi of the SDF will be standing as a candidate.
CFA 200.000.000 francs have been allocated to finance the campaigns of the four contesting parties; CFA 100.000.000 Francs before the elections and the remaining after the polls proportionately to the number of seats won.
Already there are discussions in the lobby of the ongoing session of the National Assembly that each senator would earn CFA 1.5 million Francs monthly.
In convoking the electoral college, President Biya did not explain where he suddenly found the funds to run a senate. The elections are holding 17 years late after the government said it did not have enough funding to run a senate. New Senegalese president Macky Sall dissolved his country’s senate saying it was unnecessarily expensive to run.
Supporters of president Paul Biya claim a new house of senate will help the democratic process in the country. Like the present national Assembly, the senate will be subjugated to the powers of the presidency and has very little powers.
The ruling CPDM alone has 9.032 councilors of the 10.636 who will be voting making for the 70 electors on April 14th.