I. The Betrayal of too Trusting a People
The people of the British Southern Cameroons had absolute faith in the UN and trusted the Administering Authority, believing that both would always act in the best interest and for the wellbeing of the territory. This turned out to be a monumentally misplaced faith. In breach of the legal, moral and human rights foundations at the root of the trusteeship system, in breach of obligations assumed under the Charter of the UN, and in breach of the undertakings in the Trusteeship Agreement for the British Cameroons the UK betrayed the people of the British Southern Cameroons. The UN itself failed to stand up for the people of the trust territory.
A. The Betrayal by the UN
The UN failed to secure statehood for the people of British Southern Cameroons. By this failure the UN acted in breach of its own Charter (Article 76 b), in breach of its own 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, and in breach of the right of self-determination of peoples. The plebiscite and its timing were a UN imposition. The political leadership of the territory requested its deferment to 1962 but the request was ignored. The plebiscite questions, framed with the greatest opacity, in effect demanded the hapless people of British Southern Cameroons to choose between colonial rule by Nigeria and colonial rule by Cameroun Republic, the UK Government having indicated it was no longer prepared to continue to assume responsibility for the administration of the territory.
The plebiscite was in fact uncalled for and the alternatives presented to the people amounted to a violation of the right of all peoples to existence. A people cannot achieve independence by offering themselves for domination and their territory for annexation, by another country. The British Southern Cameroons had already achieved full self-government status and was poised for and had the right to accede to the ultimate status of independence as a sovereign state. Given this fact the plebiscite was unnecessary. The phraseology of the plebiscite question was itself a gross deception and an unconscionable fraud on an essentially illiterate population who, as the Plebiscite Commissioner rightly pointed out, may not have fully grasped the full implication of what they were invited to vote on.
Further, the UN did not present the people with the internationally recognized self-determination political status option of emergence as a sovereign independent state. There was, and there can be, no good reason why this option was withheld from the people. The very representative conference of all stakeholders held in Mamfe Town had resolved that given the UN’s insistence on a plebiscite in the territory the questions to be put to the people should be the following clear, sensible and straightforward questions: Do you want integration into Nigeria? Do you want secession from Nigeria? The British Southern Cameroons though internationally a separate territory from Nigeria was at then still administered by the UK as if it was an integral part of Nigeria. The questions therefore made great sense. There was no need bringing in French Cameroun into the equation as that country was foreign land. It was clearly understood by all the stakeholders at the Mamfe conference that a vote for secession from Nigeria would necessarily entail the emergence of the British Southern Cameroons into statehood. Mr. JN Foncha, Premier of the British Southern Cameroons, painstakingly outlined to the UN the proceedings and outcome of the Mamfe conference. But for reasons that have never been stated the UN ignored all of that and went ahead to impose an unwarranted plebiscite with vaguely framed questions and dead-end alternatives. It is still a mystery how the UN could have believed and taken the attitude that the destiny of the people of the British Southern Cameroons was necessarily tied to that of either of its two neighbours.
The UN betrayal did not end there. The Organization even failed to see to it that the very process of what it called ‘independence by joining’ and which it had initiated was carried to its completion. It did not call for four-party talks (UN, UK, British Southern Cameroons, Cameroun Republic) to satisfactorily iron out any outstanding issues and to ensure that there was indeed genuine de-colonization of the British Southern Cameroons. It did not participate in any post-plebiscite talks, whether bipartite between British Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic or tripartite between the UK, the British Southern Cameroons and Cameroun Republic. It did not even bother to ensure that any such talks took place under its auspices in the same way the plebiscite had been conducted under its auspices. It did not ensure that the Administering Authority participated effectively, meaningfully, in good faith, and in the best interest of the British Southern Cameroons, in any talks or dealings with Cameroun Republic that had a bearing on the future of the people and territory of British Southern Cameroons. Resolution 1608 of 21 April 1961 failed to include safeguards designed to show conclusively British Southern Cameroons as a de-colonized territory. The resolution was in fact a dangerously watered down version of the robust resolution earlier recommended by the Trusteeship Council for adoption by the General Assembly. The Trusteeship Council resolution had called for the UN involvement in the post-plebiscite de-colonization process and for the UN to make available to the Government of the British Southern Cameroons administrative, financial and constitutional expertise. The UN should responsibly have done so, but it failed to. The assistance to British Southern Cameroons recommended by the Trusteeship Council would have, on the reckoning of the UN Secretary General, cost a mere US$46, 000. Discriminatorily, the UN considered that paltry sum too large an amount to spend in order to secure and safeguard the integrity of the territory of the Southern Cameroons, however spatially small, and the dignity and worth of its people, however demographically small. It would seem the UN even appeared to have adopted the suspect attitude that the British Southern Cameroons was a returned part of the territory of Cameroun Republic.
Elections in Cameroun are fashioned after the Soviet module. When the administration is not creating election results years before the elections actually happen, the Minister of Territorial Administration is doctoring the books before, during and after the elections to give some semblance of respectability to the voter turnout and the actual results. Ethnic cleansing of known opposition names from the voter’s register is the key parameter of election fraud in Cameroun.
Manipulation of voters register to exclude opposition luminaries especially Southern Cameroonians because they systematically vote against the regime, creation of bogus registers; registration of sympathiz-ers in hideouts; refusal to give Southern Cameroonians voting cards; registration of sympathetic foreigners; refusal to publish voter’s registers; stuffing ballot boxes; demanding that known or suspected opposition hands produce birth certificate, bank statements, driving licenses, residence permits, ID cards before voting contrary to the law; sending the voting cards and registers of known opposition members to wrong polling stations; ferrying supporters to vote left, right and center; allowing children to vote; releasing voting cards of the ruling to militants days ahead of the election for ballot box stuffing, refusal to produce indelible ink; multiple voting; confiscating ballot boxes; corrupting voters; creating shortages of opposition ballot papers; buying votes; selling votes; using state resources to campaign; hijacking the public media; disqualifying lists of opponents; creating ghost polling stations; proclaiming phony results; creating phony result sheets; canceling opposition votes; announcing phony results of past elections; creating an Election Observatory to…observe the rigging etc. Gerrymandering and inventing bogus constituencies. Doctoring all the laws governing elections, and now, creating a CPDM-sub-section with Ruling party apparatchiks in charge called Elecam to manage the rigging.
The very character of the Camerounese political orchestration makes it clear that every election-heisting is faithfully executed either at the behest of the strongman or for the benefit of the strongman. Small wonder, Mr. Biya maintains a tight-control of the institutions and processes that organize execute and adjudge on elections in Cameroun.
Those who rig elections do so for the superadded attractive influence of either being maintained in their positions or for the possibility of being co-opted and accommodated by the system.
All appointments into the frontline ministry of territorial administration , the Ministry of Justice, the former National Elections Observatory—NEO or ONEL—and now the so-called independent electoral commission, Elections Cameroun or Elecam are done by the president.
Resultantly, every election time, the regime ingenious warlords ‘bribe, they threaten, they issue veiled and real threats, they loot, they embezzle ballot papers and boxes, they ransack polling stations, they exploit, they pilfer, they shake down, they play bilkers tunes on ballot boxes, they brought in muscle, even the prime minister bought and sold votes—when he was not hightailing down a Victoria street with ballot boxes that is, etc.’ In fact, they regime and its ingenious warlords did everything a president and his party has to do to be world champions in election fraud.
The Ministry of Territorial Administration (hitherto called the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization) organizes elections in Cameroun. This office functions in the true pattern of a one-party state, Stalinist module. It fabricates election results years ahead of the elections, which results (in favour of the state party) are released after the elections to be confirmed by the Supreme Court. Before multipartism, the administration within the single party simply prepared election results years ahead. Those results systematically awarded 99.99% to the ruling party.
The president’s control over the electoral process is so tight-fisted that the man is not beyond reshuffling and re-deploying the entire grassroots organs of the Ministry of Territorial Administration which ministry has always is in charge of the organization of elections in Cameroun. During these routine pre-elections appointments administrators suspected to be hostile to the regime are redeployed to regime strongholds where the spotlight would be on them in case of attempts at mischief.
The Supreme Court, whose head is the president of the state party and Head of State, has never been known to challenge even the most glaring evidential of electoral fraud. The Supreme Court always rubber-stamps the results as tabled by Territorial Administration . In all fairness to the Supreme Court, electoral law states clearly that the Supreme Court is there to proclaim the results: proclaim and nothing else.
Ahead of a so-called facts-finding visit by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, ACHPR, to the Cameroons, the Biya regime today deployed regiments of its elite troops to Buea, the second town in the disputed Southern Cameroons.
The troops were mainly from the BIR or Brigade d’Intervention Rapide, a heavily equipped unit.
The troop deployment is amidst fears that Southern Cameroons
independentists would use Februaru 11, 2011, the former Empire Day, to declare the actualization of the independence and sovereignty of the Southern Cameroons as the Republique of Ambazonia.
The African Commission is visiting the Southern Cameroons post the June 2009 milestone ruling of the ACHPR, which ruling recognised Southern Cameroonians as a people with inalienable rights, one of those rights being self-determination.
The Biya regime has today annexted the UN Trust territory of the
Southern Cameroons and considers it part of its territory.
In 2009, the ACHPR gave the Biya regime 180 days to commence
“Constructive Dialogue” with the leaders of the Southern Cameroons.
After accepting the idea of “Constructive Dialogue” and even writing to the ACHPR to request a further 180 days to prepare for the ‘Constructive Dialogue” the Biya regime then reneged on its
commitment. It instead deployed troops to all towns and villages of the Southern Cameroons.
Victims of Landmines Other human rights observers pile on the tally. For example, facts, figures and pictures available to the Bamenda-based Human Rights Defense Group, the Human Rights Clinic (HURCLED Centre) show that between 1990 and 1993, the Biya regime systematically helicopter dropped booby-trapped objects (live grenades and anti-personnel landmines), shaped like wrist watches, ear-rings and other toys in almost all Bamenda-Southern Cameroons loci of SDF rallies. Children and youths who picked up, or stepped on, such objects – Made in China – had their members amputated forthwith. Joseph Awah, for example, first from left of the picture, was a volunteer member of Opposition Leader John Fru Ndi’s security detail had his right hand severed when he picked up a wrist watch that had been dropped into Fru Ndi’s Mercedes. The Biya regime never dropped these live grenades in French Cameroun, not even in Douala which was famed for its anti-Biya rallies in 1990-1993, known to Francophones as ‘Les années des braises.’ To date, the Commander-in-Chief of the Camerounese Army and his generals, who, definitely, gave the Code Red for these criminal activities, have has not accounted for these maiming. Cameroun is a signatory to the UN Ban on the use of anti-personnel land mines especially in civilian areas yet the current Defense Minister, Edgar Abraham Alain Mebe Ngo’o, (a most probable candidate for economic and war crimes in the Cameroons) has ordered containers of improved land mines, tear gas canisters, etc. from France and China in readiness for the trouble coming to the Biya regime. It had been computed that not less than 1.000 Camerounians have been killed by the regime from 1990 to date in the struggle to institute a democratic system in the Cameroons.