“We have the feeling that the Cameroonian people are abandoned to their sad fate”

Without having been particularly relaxed before, the political atmosphere has risen a notch in terms of manifestations of tension on the night of Sunday 20 to Monday 21 September. Since that date, Maurice Kamto’s house has been completely surrounded by the security forces. According to the president of the Mouvement pour la renaissance du Cameroun (MRC), these, made up of “mixed detachments of police and armed gendarmes, with an impressive deployment of war material”, prevent anyone from entering or leaving the region. House. This event is due to the political crisis that has lasted since October 8, 2018, the day after the presidential electionn contested results, Maurice Kamto proclaimed himself the winner and the Constitutional Council rejected his appeals and gave him second in the ballot with 14.23% of the vote. During the hearing relating to electoral disputes, Maurice Kamto did not recognize the members of the Constitutional Council as being empowered to arbitrate on post-electoral disputes.

“From the night of Sunday 20 to Monday 21 September and to this day, it is impossible for me to leave my home, to enjoy my rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Likewise, I cannot receive visitors, or even provide supplies to my house. In short, no one comes in, no one leaves, ”says Maurice Kamto.
© DR

Everything really changed in January 2019 when, for acts of destruction of public property, the opponent was imprisoned only to be released at the beginning of October of the same year following the president’s decision. Paul Biya to suspend the legal proceedings against the militants of the MRC and associates arrested in the context of the contesting of the results of the presidential election in Cameroon in October 2018. Since then, nothing has really changed in the right direction, in large part dam of Maurice Kamto and his supporters, until the night of September 20 when his house was besieged. From Douala, he answered the questions of Point Afrique while the authorities accuse him of calling for an insurrection and indicated in a statement to examine his case and that of his supporters through legal channels.

Read also Cameroon: the hardening of the repression is not a positive signal

Le Point Afrique: The information that you are stuck at home is becoming clearer. What is the physical situation today?

Maurice Kamto: From the night of Sunday 20 to Monday 21 September and to this day, it is impossible for me to leave my home, to enjoy my rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Likewise, I cannot receive visitors, nor even ensure that my house is supplied. In short, no one comes in, no one leaves.

More than 600 demonstrators, among whom a majority of our militants, were arrested and are detained, in particular Alain Fogué, the treasurer of the MRC, and Olivier Bibou Nissack, my adviser and spokesperson, who are still in custody in the premises of the Secretary of State for Defense in charge of the gendarmerie (SED). Mass arrests took place before, during and after the peaceful marches. It is a real manhunt and a political purge of the MRC that we have witnessed since then.

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And politically? Have the authorities informed you of their grievances against you?

I remain curious to know why my house is surrounded and the entrances besieged night and day by dozens of police and gendarmes, with war equipment, including a tank directing its cannon towards the gate!

We live under a fierce dictatorship which is not known for respecting the often unfair laws it has itself enacted. The coalition of political parties and members of society that launched the slogan of peaceful marches did so in accordance with the law, declaring the marches to the competent authorities. The demonstrations in Cameroon are under the regime of the simple declaration. However, the marches organized by the coalition are systematically prohibited under the fallacious pretext of disturbing public order. But it is not even the reason for manifestation of disturbance to public order that the regime invokes. He decided that the absolutely peaceful marches on the part of the protesters (as all the pictures show) were an insurgency.

On October 7, 2018, Maurice Kamto voted. He will be accused of having proclaimed himself the winner and he will spend 10 months in prison between January and October 2019.
© Jean Pierre Kepseu / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP

Indeed, the General Delegate for National Security (DGSN) and the Secretary of State for Defense in charge of the Gendarmerie made me say yesterday by the members of the collective of lawyers responsible for assisting people arrested or kidnapped before , during and after the peaceful marches that I am forbidden to leave my home where I have been sequestered with my household for eight days now. Nobody comes out, nobody comes in. They accuse me of being the bearer of an insurrection project to overthrow the institutions. I do not know if this is an ongoing forcible confinement, extrajudicial detention or a de facto house arrest. Because no legal act, no written notification underlies this situation.

Read also Cameroon: what justice accuses Maurice Kamto

The peaceful marches of September 22, 2020 were marked by an irreproachable behavior at all points, undermining this thesis of the insurrection that the Cameroonian regime is agitating to demonize us and justify the barbaric repression inflicted on the marchers. The worst thing is that, as during the peaceful marches of January and June 2019, the arrests and the few releases observed were already made on the basis of surnames, with the obvious aim of reducing these marches to an ethnic demonstration. It is extremely serious to thus create a patronage offense in a country characterized by great ethnic diversity.

What goal are you aiming for through the march you have called for?

We have been clear from the start, our approach has been and will remain peaceful. We ask :

– on the one hand, the end of the bloodshed by a ceasefire and a return to inclusive dialogue in order to restore peace in the two English-speaking regions of the country at war for more than 3 years;

– on the other hand, a consensual reform of the electoral system before any new election, so that Cameroonians can freely and transparently appoint their leaders, a request made by the political parties of the opposition and civil society, including the Conference national episcopal, by the state body in charge of elections, Cameroon’s international partners, in particular the African Union, the Parliament of the European Union, the United States, Canada, etc.

In response to these two demands, we have been met with contempt from the regime.

Read also Cameroon: the opponent Maurice Kamto does not want the current Constitutional Council

How would you describe the situation in Cameroon today?

The situation in Cameroon is very worrying. The country is facing several crises.

– On the security front, Mr. Biya’s regime has declared and is waging an absurd war against part of the Cameroonian people in the English-speaking regions of the North-West and South-West. This war, which has lasted for almost four years, has caused more than 3,000 deaths (some estimates are much higher), thousands of wounded and missing, led to a massive displacement of the populations of these regions (approximately 400,000 to 800,000 people according to sources) and generated more than 40,000 Cameroonian refugees in neighboring Nigeria.

We live under a fierce dictatorship which is not known for respecting the often unfair laws it has itself enacted, “said Maurice Kamto, president of the MRC.
© DR

– On the economic level, according to the authorities themselves, three out of ten regions in Cameroon are now declared tax disaster. In the other regions, the economic situation is not much better. Cameroonians face endemic unemployment and galloping inflation, not to mention the widespread corruption which makes any investment in Cameroon difficult. Poverty has continued to increase. GDP per capita of around US $ 1,500 is lower than it was 25 years ago.

– On the political level, the regime in place has still not learned the lessons of the post-electoral crisis of the presidential election of October 2018 and of the clear message that Cameroonians sent them by following our word of boycott of the elections overwhelmingly legislative and municipal elections of February 2020 (nearly 80% of voters did not go to vote). In this context, the regime’s contemptuous refusal to initiate a consensual reform of the electoral system can only lead to new crises linked to the elections, the same causes producing the same effects. Not to mention the resulting lack of legitimacy of the ruling class.

In addition, the regime is working to manipulate the instrumentalisation of ethnic or tribal feelings to pit Cameroonians against each other to divide the country, in order, he hopes, to perpetuate himself in power.

Read also Cameroon: Maurice Kamto refuses to abdicate

What solution do you recommend in the various problems in the country (conflict in the English-speaking zone, Boko Haram, corruption, state repression, limitation of freedoms, democracy, etc.)?

– An immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the context of the war in the NoSo. The release of all political prisoners and the opening of a sincere and inclusive dialogue.

– Consensual reform of the electoral system before the organization of any new election.

The fight against Boko Haram is a real cause for concern, because it touches on a major issue that goes beyond everyday security. I can tell you that we have thought about it a lot, that we have avenues to curb this crisis. But you will understand that I cannot expose them here.

On October 5, 2019, Maurice Kamto and his supporters were released following President Biya’s decision to lift the legal proceedings related to the post-electoral dispute of 2018.
© STRINGER / AFP

The other aspects of your question fall under the program of government that we would implement if we were able to govern, the articulations of which you will find in detail in our campaign program for the presidential election of 2018.

Why is the power choosing the hard way right now?

No doubt to hide its failures, both economically and socially and in terms of democratic construction. But it is to him that this question should be asked.

Read also Cameroon: Paul Biya takes the initiative by releasing the leader of the opposition

What could relax the political atmosphere so as to open a sequence of dialogue to get out of this latent crisis which is having a negative impact?nt the country? Do you think that an international or regional institution could help?

Cameroon being part of the concert of nations, since it has shown that it is unable to resolve by itself the deep problems which have degenerated into crises likely to affect our sub-region, even peace and security international organizations, it is quite normal and desirable for international institutions such as the African Union, the United Nations, the Francophonie and the Commonwealth to provide their assistance in resolving these crises. We have been saying this for a long time.

Maurice Kamto wonders a lot about the silence of the international community on the situation in Cameroon.
© STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

How can we understand that with the serious humanitarian situation that my country has been experiencing for almost four years now, in particular because of the civil war in the NoSo, the atrocities committed there, including the massacres of children and pregnant women, there is no has there not been until now an international commission of inquiry into these nameless crimes? How to understand that a special rapporteur on Cameroon has not been appointed so far by the competent United Nations bodies when the country is experiencing serious human rights violations, including torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial detentions, etc. ? Why is the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, so silent on the situation in Cameroon, he who has known experience of situations of humanitarian distress? What follow-up did the High Commissioner for Nations, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, give to her visit to Cameroon in 2018? What happened to the 2019 African Union-Francophonie-Commonwealth tripartite mission, which promised to set up a working group with the various parties to draw lessons from the post-presidential election crisis of 2018, in particular by working on the reform of the electoral system. What happened to the initiatives of Geneva, even Accra on the NoSo crisis?

We have the feeling that the Cameroonian people are abandoned to their sad fate, at a time when they most need Africa and more generally the international community to show their solidarity and help them out of a situation unworthy of human civilization.

If you had a roadmap to propose to the government today. What would it be?

What roadmap do you want us to propose to an autistic, arrogant and contemptuous government, which spends its time trying to impose on us the pagan cult of a golden calf, instead of facing the disaster in which it is? plunges the country?

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