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Cameroon: National Dialogue, Kamto Liberated, and what about the NOSO Crisis?

09.10.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The Grand National Dialogue, which had as objective to find concrete and lasting solutions to the Anglophone crisis that has rocked the predominantly English speaking regions of the Republic of Cameron, has heralded a new freedom and a new start for Prof. Maurice Kamto and the MRC. This may largely look philosophical and complex, but it is the reality on the ground. The Anglophone crisis and the case relating to Maurice Kamto are two independent problems which needed to be settled subtly and differently.

Maurice Kamto and some MRC cadres regain freedom

‘’Freedom can be related to a valuable asset, which one does not want to lose’’. Some nine months ago, leader of the opposition party Cameroon Renaissance Movement, known by its French acronym as MRC Maurice Kamto  and some of his party militants were apprehended and kept behind bars for provoking insurrection and causing public disturbance after losing the October 7, 2018 presidential elections to the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement-CPDM of President Paul Biya. Though other political parties accepted defeat after the constitutional council declared their revandications null and baseless, Professor Kamto, who came second in the presidential polls denied to accept defeat and pressed on, calling on the electoral body to republish the real results, in which he was the rightful winner. As such, Kamto with his MRC militants marched to the streets on several occasions calling for electoral reforms and transparency in the electoral process in Cameroon.  The end result was his arrest in late January 2019.  Together with his top party members including Lawyer Michele Ndoki, Celestin Ndjamen, and many others, a Yaoundé based military tribunal slammed them a twelve month jail term citing sedition, insurrection among other offenses.

A release for eclipsed the Anglophone crisis?

A day after the Grand National debate culminated, Prof. Maurice Kamto, together with over 100 MRC militants who have been under detention since last January walked free again after benefiting from a presidential pardon granted by incumbent President Paul Biya.  On his official twitter page, President Biya wrote: ‘’I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against some officials and militants of political parties in particular the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM)’’.  Cameroonians, especially MRC militants saluted the efforts of President Biya in trying to fix the country that has remained turbulent over the last three years. But the question remains, did Kamto’s liberation pacify those in the restive North West and South West Regions of Cameroon? According to many critics, the Major National Dialogue coined to shoot the separatists activities in NOSO instead favoured Kamto and Co, though the post elections events that led to their arrest was not directly linked to the crisis in the English speaking regions. It remains a fact that the Anglophone problem precipitated the release of Kamto and co.  Even though some 333 Anglophones arrested in line with the Anglophone crisis have also been released, critics still bemoan the fact that people like Mancho Bibixy, Julius Sisiko Ayuk Tabe and co, main advocates of the crisis did not find favour in President Biya’s clemency.

Kamto, Present –day main opposition figure

Those getting to read the political history of Cameroon from the event that led to the October 7, 2018 poll can commit a fallacy of branding Cameroon Renaissance Movement of Professor Maurice Kamto as the major opposition party in present-day Cameroon, however the ambiguity of this statement has to be clarified. Though Pro. Kamto was largely seen as the main opposition leader in Cameron in 2019, his MRC party does not even occupy the third position when it comes to number of seats owned in the national assembly.  Taking statistics from the last legislative election in the country some six years ago, the ruling CPDM party has 142 seats, followed by the Social Democratic Front-SDF (main opposition party since the birth of multiparty in the 90s) with just 18 seats. As at now the MRC party of Prof. Maurice Kamto, created in August 2019 has just one seat in the national assembly. However, he remains the most renowned opposition figure in recent times. This shows that the Social Democratic Front Of Ni John Fru Ndi remains the main opposition party in Cameroon in term of representation in the lower house of parliament. Though its influence has greatly dwindled over the years.

The task ahead for Kamto and the MRC

Political analysts in the country have challenged Professor Maurice Kamto to accept defeat in the last elections and focused on the future. According to pundits, campaigning for more seats in the national assembly in the upcoming parliamentary elections would be a major political boost for the one time government official. According to Fah Elvis, Journalist and press secretary of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, since his liberation, Prof. Kamto is yet to define his plans. However, he has vowed to continue in his pursuit of a better Cameroon for Cameroonians. The Press Secretary reiterated that the MRC leadership has to continue with the quest of instilling grass root structures of the party especially in the Grand Northern Regions, Center and Littoral. Like one political pundit, Shu Gerald would put it, Kamto should now focus on gaining more seats in the National Assembly to challenge the party in power and shun from activities which could undermine his freedom.

Hope for the return of peace

Though calm is yet to return to the restive English speaking regions of Cameroon, President Paul Biya has expressed optimism that the grand national debate that culminated on October 4 defines a new beginning for the central African nation. In a twitter post President Biya said: “the dialogue “afforded you the opportunity to reaffirm once more your attachment to peace and concord in your country; I would like to congratulate and thank you very sincerely for that.”  As it stands, Many Anglophones have accentuated on the ‘’Special Status’’ promised for the two regions.

Faced with the realities on ground, President Paul Biya has a greater task of arresting the crisis, though some fighters have remained defiant and vowed to fight on. The grand historic national dialogue did not hope to spontaneously kill the war, but it presented a perfect way towards ending it. The war that has been dragging on for three years now has had adverse effects on the economy of Cameroon with many displaced, creating a refugee crisis and over 2000 killed.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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