It’s been two years since Cameroon, especially the Anglophone regions ( North-West and South-West) have been witnessing serious unrest. The minority English speaking population say they are being marginalized by the majority French-speaking population. The current chaotic deadly situation in the Anglophone regions originated from a peaceful protest by lawyers and teachers demanding better recognition, respect, and use of the English language in schools and courts. The people of these regions later embraced and became part of the peaceful protest which they saw as an opportunity to break their long pregnant silence, putting an end to the façade many called ‘peace’ in the country. The population took to the streets with peace plants expressing their grievances against the government. They called for socio-economic change, equality, and an enabling environment within their region.
The protest turned deadly after peaceful civil protests were met by ruthless government crackdowns. Since then, separatist militants have sprung up from different parts of the two regions, fighting for an independent Anglophone Cameroon also known as Ambazonia. The gun battles between the Cameroonian military and the separatist militants have resulted in rising death toll and economic losses on both sides. The violence has resulted in the displacement of over two hundred thousand people, hundreds have been killed, maimed, arrested and many villages and towns burnt down and/or deserted.
In the midst of the misery in the two Anglophone regions, the Cameroonian government recently organized a controversial presidential election which named Paul Biya winner, thanks to the 2008 constitutional amendment that removed term limits, allowing Biya to run for his 7th term without restrictions. The country’s constitutional council on Monday, October 22, 2018, named 85- year- old President Paul Biya winner of the country’s presidential elections. Paul Biya has been president of Cameroon since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Cameroon has continuously experienced economic hardship, corruption, embezzlement, accrued debts etc, under the leadership of Paul Biya. One will wonder why Biya successfully remain president through all these years despite how poor and cruel his leadership has been. Unfortunately, elections in Cameroon are often marked by irregularities that usually go unattended to, due to the despotic and corrupt nature of president Paul Biya’s government.
Some opposition parties at this year’s presidential elections tabled petitions of electoral malpractices requesting a partial or complete annulment of this year’s elections. Unfortunately, but as expected, the country’s Constitutional Council rejected all 18 post-electoral petitions. The main opposition parties in this year’s elections, as well as a large portion of the country’s population, are of the opinion that the elections were highly fraudulent.
The president-elect Paul Biya won the presidential elections with an overwhelming 71.28% in a country marked by severe corruption and economic hardship. The president-elect Paul Biya also obtained massive victory in the two conflict-hit Anglophone regions (North West 81.74% and South West 77.69%) where the population boycotted the elections because of their grievances against the government and the security concerns in the region. National and international election observers were also absent due to security concerns. Their absence definitely facilitated the massive fraud witnessed at polling stations during the elections. Paul Biya’s massive victory, especially in regions with constant gun battles between the Anglophone restoration forces and Paul Biya’s military, has left many tongues wagging. The people have lost hope in the country and its institutions. Situations seem hopeless as individuals lament, painfully trying to figure out how they will survive another seven years under Paul Biya.
An obvious question will be; isn’t it possible to vote him out? Unfortunately, votes do not really count. The electoral system in the country is set up to favor the incumbent. It will take other methods than just the polls to oust the president. Firstly, Cameroon doesn’t have an independent Elections Commission. The constitutional council which has the responsibility to announce the results is also not an independent body. Influential employees in these institutions are directly or indirectly appointed by the president. Therefore, the ruling party/presidency, the elections organizing body (Election Cameroon – ELECAM) and the Constitutionals Council all function as interdependent rather than independent institutions.
The people vote, ELECAM puts the votes together and forwards them to the national commission for vote counting. The figures are then sent to the constitutional council which declares the winner, accepts and handles post elections dispute.
Almost all those managing these election managing institutions are either directly or indirectly appointed by the president. Most of them are also members of Paul Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM). It will be myopic to expect any form of transparency from these institutions.
Despite how gloomy the elections process in Cameroon is, many Cameroonians in the French Speaking regions courageously went to the polling stations to vote for their preferred candidates. Unfortunately, their optimism turn sour as they witnessed their hope for change crushed by the corrupt political system in Cameroon. The leading opposition leader at this year’s presidential elections, Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), has persistently stated that he was robbed of his victory as the winner of this year’s Presidential elections. Maurice Kamto emphatically stated that the figures published by the constitutional council placing him at the second position with a 14.23% are fraudulent.
Professor Maurice Kamto says he won the presidential elections with a percentage of 39.74% contrary to what has been published by the Constitutional Council. He has also presented his own copies of the election results which substantiates his claims. As confusion persists in Cameroon from several angles, the incumbent has already been receiving congratulatory messages from in and out of the African continent.
Cameroonians lament as Paul Biya is once again declared winner of the presidential elections. The people will have to continue in 7 more years of poverty, no running water, epileptic electricity supply, bad roads, poor health facilities, dictatorship, corruption, and embezzlement, just to name a few.
Paul Biya will be 92 years old by the end of this 7th term, with 43 of these years as president of the Republic of Cameroon. At this rate, it will be wise to pray for the best while preparing for the worst. I will advise Cameroonians not to rule out the possibility of Paul Biya’s 8th term in office.
Less than 48 hours after the President of the Constitutional Council, Justice Clement Atangana proclaimed Biya Paul winner of the 2018 presidential election with an overwhelming 71.28%, the country’s Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT) has provided 272,659,992 FCFA for the construction of the residence of the President of the Constitutional Council in Yaounde. Many have interpreted this move as a compensation to the president of the constitutional council for betraying the Cameroonian people, democracy and the human conscience by falsely announcing Mr. Biya the winner of the October 2018 presidential elections.
As for the aftermath of the presidential elections on the ongoing Anglophone crisis, I will say it is early to predict. However, we are aware of the fact that, the current government promised to crush separatists if they are re-elected. Unfortunately, the ruthless regime has been ‘re-elected’. The days ahead seem quite gloomy for most Cameroonians, many of whom have resorted to trusting God for survival.
Hold on in there, hope dies last!.