Committee to Protect Journalist Demands Untainted Investigation into the Ngota Ngota Affair

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 | Phone: (212) 465-1004 | Fax: (212) 465-9568 | Web: http://www.cpj.org

CPJ seeks untainted Cameroon investigation of Ngota death

May 6, 2010

H.E. Paul Biya

President of the Republic of Cameroon

Yaoundé, Cameroon

Via facsimile: (237) 22 20 33 06

Dear President Biya,

The Rio del Rey. the Boat for which Ngota Ngota died

We are alarmed by investigations that appear to be flawed and marred with political interference into the April 22 death in prison of journalist Germain Cyrille Ngota. We hold Cameroon’s government responsible for Ngota’s death and the well-being of three other journalists in the custody of the administration. We call on you to address these concerns, along with allegations of torture of journalists by a security agency accountable to your office.

Mr. President, we were heartened by an April 26 statement issued from your office stating that “with a concern of objectivity and impartiality, the President of the Republic has wanted to assign this case to a body independent of the Executive and its parties, namely the judicial power, in view of the establishment of the truth.”

However, the same statement asserted that Ngota’s case was “not a matter of restriction of freedom of the press but of submission of every citizen to the rule of law.” In fact, agents of the Cameroon intelligence agency DGRE first arrested Ngota—while he was receiving home medical care for high blood pressure—with three other journalists investigating a document that implicated presidential adviser Laurent Esso in corruption. The administration has not addressed allegations that DGRE agents used psychological and physical torture to force the journalists to reveal sources for the document. 

The president’s statement further asserted that Ngota died only of poor health and not because of poor medical care at Nkondengui prison. However, in an interview with weekly La Météo, Ngota’s mother, Georgette Edima Ngoulou, said her son had complained of being trampled while sleeping on the floor of his cell and of exposure to rainwater. She said the prison warden “categorically rejected” a written plea for his medical evacuation, which his mother said had been endorsed by the prison doctor.

We are troubled that on April 28, the minister publicly disclosed that Ngota had been tested positive for HIV and died from infections arising from this condition—a claim refuted by Ngota’s widow. Local anti-AIDS activists and Cameroon’s national medical association have condemned the public disclosure of Ngota’s HIV status, raising concerns of violation of privacy and medical confidentiality rights enshrined in Cameroonian laws and the U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS. The minister’s statement was based on an autopsy he said would be held “in the presence of independent personalities” and Ngota’s family, according to Agence France-Presse. However, Ngota’s younger brother, Bruno Ntede, and Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola, a local journalist who was invited by the minister to represent the independent press at the autopsy, said they were not present, according to press reports.

Mr. President, you tasked Cameroon’s judiciary with independently investigating this matter. Yet, we are troubled that the integrity of the probe may have already been compromised by a series of assertions from the administration that are at odds with claims made by family and friends of Ngota. In the interest of transparency and safeguarding the integrity of any judicial investigations, we call on your leadership to address these concerns, including allegations that DGRE intelligence agents used physical and psychological torture to force four journalists to reveal sources of the document at the basis of their arrests. We finally ask that you release all journalists held in Cameroonian prisons.

Thank for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon

Executive Director

URL > http://cpj.org/2010/05/cpj-seeks-untainted-cameroon-investigation-of-ngot.php

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org.

Bibi Ngota: Sinking Ship, the Plot Thickens.

It has now filtered that Ngota Ngota and company did not get the first information about kickbacks in the purchase of a ‘Hotel-ship’ and huge sums – from a leaked conversation. The press got the the tip from the very authoritative Africa Confidential way back in 2009.

Article lu dans Le Confidentiel Africain — N° 105 — 1er octobre 2009

Scandale à la SNH

La puissante Société nationale des hydrocarbures (SNH) présentée comme la « caisse noire des recettes pétrolières » du régime du « renouveau » est en passe de faire exploser l’un des plus grands scandales financiers qu’ait jamais connu le Cameroun dans les tous prochains jours. Il s’agit de l’« affaire Rio Del Rey », le nom de baptême du bateau hôtel acheté à 17 milliards de F.CFA par la SNH que dirige un des rarissimes hommes de confiance du président Paul Biya, le très discret Adolphe Moudiki. Ce Sawa, ancien directeur adjoint du Cabinet civil, ancien ministre et actuellement administrateur directeur général de ladite société dont la gestion relève de l’exclusivité de la présidence.

En 2008, la SNH spécialisée dans le partenariat de recherche des puits pétroliers off-shore et on-shore, ainsi que des quotas de production et de transport du brut tchadien à travers le pipeline Doba-Kribi avait couronné une année faste en chiffre d’affaire par le versement de la somme record de 651,217 milliards de F.CFA au Trésor public. La bonne santé de la SNH en 2008 s’expliquait, selon nos sources, par trois découvertes et la signature de trois nouveaux contrats de partage de production avec le consortium Glencore/Afex et avec les sociétés Addax et EurOil, respectivement sur les blocs Matanda, Iroko et Etindé. Toutes choses qui avaient permis des versements des primes de rendement à son sélectif personnel, ainsi que les encouragements spéciaux de son PCA statutaire, le secrétaire général de la présidence, Laurent Esso, tant le ministre des Mines n’en assure qu’une transparente tutelle administrative. En 2008, la SNH avait confirmé la commande d’acquisition d’une barge hôtel d’une capacité de 132 lits : « Cette barge, dénommée Rio Del Rey, et qui a coûté 17 milliards de F.CFA environ représente le premier investissement de cet ordre jamais réalisé par la SNH, sur fonds propres », s’en était d’ailleurs félicité l’ADG auprès du président Biya à qui Adolphe Moudiki rend prioritairement et exclusivement compte du vrai tableau de bord des recettes pétrolières…

Le problème aujourd’hui repose essentiellement sur les mécanismes de cette transaction opaque ainsi que les caractéristiques futuristes de la barge Rio Del Rey (RDR) équipée d’un héliport et dont la SNH était peu disert sur le pays et l’usine de fabrication de ce « bateau hôtel flambant neuf ». On sait que le RDR a été fabriqué par « Aksoy Gelibolu Shipyard » en Turquie, dans le même chantier naval ayant monté la barge « Elisa ». Le RDR fabriqué et mis à l’eau le 28 septembre 2008 dans le port de Gelibolu (situé dans le détroit de Dardanelles à 250 bornes d’Istanbul) aurait dû être livré à la SNH au mois d’octobre 2008, via la firme suisse « ABC Maritime » que dirige Robert Rohrbach. Seulement la barge RDR n’est jamais arrivée au Cameroun, nonobstant le dernier versement du solde des 17 milliards le 26 novembre 2008. Les traces du RDR remontent plutôt au mois d’avril 2009 où la barge fut utilisée par Total Genève et une expédition aux larges de Dakar au Sénégal le 12 mai 2009. Depuis lors, le Cameroun attend sa barge achetée à pas moins de 17 milliards de F.CFA. Pis, la transaction pour l’acquisition du RDR aurait connu des intermédiaires occultes. Nos sources s’interrogent – entre autres – sur l’attribution d’une somme de 480 millions de F.CFA représentant 3 % des commissions sur les 17 milliards de F.CFA versés à Dooh Collins, directeur général de « Petroleum Advising Services » (PAS). Cet argent fait jaser les personnes proches dudit dossier. La presse camerounaise est en passe de se saisir de cette affaire…

Cameroon Media in the Loop. By Fon Achobang

In flames?World Press Freedom day celebrations are dedicated to reflections on what the role of the media should be in society. On the eve of the 2010 manifestations, the Cameroon media was bereaved as one of its members, Bibi Ngota, was allegedly tortured and abandoned to die in pretrial detention at the Kondengui Central Prison. Cameroon media was also shocked beyond rationale when the Minister of Communication, government regulator of the sector, Issa Tchiroma Bakary went out of his way to make a public statement that Bibi Ngota was HIV positive and died from opportunistic infections. Against this background, Cameroon media is in mourning and reflection on the challenges that face the sector.

Citizens cannot make sound decisions on issues put before them without the free flow of information and public opinion. This information and opinion helps them to make informed decisions during elections and on which projects to support. 2011 is a critical year in Cameroon and the media cannot allow itself to fail. They must create the atmosphere for debate and free flow of information to educate and sensitize voters.

Cameroonian voters should be given a limitless supply of information sources; newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, mailed communications and pamphlets. Hundreds of newspapers are reported as registered in Cameroon, and according to government that is an alibi for press freedom. How does the Cameroonian press provide coverage of all important local, regional, national and international developments?

The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Yang Philemon just completed an economic and image charming trip in the United States of America. The Cameroonian people are left to consume only the coverage of Cameroon Radio Television and Cameroon Tribune, both government public media. A vast majority of the bourgeoning press was left out of the trip. Of course, government media concerns are limited and will fail to report the all important trip from all perspectives. By the end of the trip few Cameroonians will be informed of the necessity of such a trip and the its fallouts.

As a committed sector to impartial and unbiased reporting of facts, the mass media, as an ideal should enable voters to make intelligent decisions. As such the media should analyze the meaning of developments, and in clearly identified columns and broadcasts, express editorial opinions supporting or opposing the decisions of public officials. In the current dispensation, the Cameroon private media has been seen as weakening government action in acting for the public good. This is because the private media has been the one reporting the various allegations on Biya’s Ill-gotten Wealth and the suits against the Head of State in the diaspora.

As to the choice between the media and the government, let us remember what Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence in America said. In 1787 he declared:

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Over 200 years ago, that is what one of the founders of the American modern nation thought of the media. As a source of informed opinion, it should occupy the priority position. The Cameroon media should offer debates on public issues and interviews with persons who support or oppose specific actions. The Cameroon government has indicated, perhaps it has become its hallmark, that it is opposed to any opinion opposing its actions. In the 1980s when the economic crises started biting the country, lots of journalists of the English expression tried to debate issues in the country. They were whisked off the news programme, Cameroon Report and taken straight to the Kondengui Central Prison. The name of the programme had since been changed to Cameroon Calling but each time the spirit of Cameroon report reared its ugly head, the anchor was taken off. As such the Cameroon media lost some of its best practitioners in the English language.

Today, the Cameroon media is confronted with all sorts of problems caused by amateurs and people who barely have the tools for reporting. The 1990 communication regulations try to define what a journalist was. According to this profile, a journalist was somebody who went through a school of journalism; somebody with a postsecondary education and should have spent at least a year practicing in a media house; and thirdly if the practitioner does not have a postsecondary certificate, he should have spent at least four years in a media house. These criteria notwithstanding, there is no watchdog to screen those currently on the field.

Some government institutions and authorities have, therefore, taken advantage of this lack of regulation to impose their personal stamp on what they imagine to be against them in the media. It is in this light that the very powerful Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency, Laurent Esso used his position to bypass all judicial procedures to get Bibi Ngota detained. Recently, I was dragged to the Kumba High Court to answer charges proffered against me by the powerful Judge of the court. He felt defamed when I publicized one of the swindling sagas he is involved in. if I had been found within his jurisdiction, he would have detained me. My belonging to a different jurisdiction did not prevent him from crossing his judicial boundary to accost me with a summons, which I of course used as evidence of his abuse of power to petition the President of the Republic, Chair of the Higher Judicial Council.

Reporters are expected to know their rights and responsibilities and operate within the ambit of such rights. If I didn’t know my legal rights, and knew how to analyze the data collected from the Meme High Court, that legal jurisdiction would have messed me up like Bibi Ngota. Today, it is the judge running away from his shadow and resorting to arson to erase damaging evidence against him.

The treatment of information by those who gather such information leaves much to be desired. An uncle of the Cameroon media, Sam Nuvala Fonkem observed that there were lots of assumptions in the columns of our newspapers and broadcasts. His advice was never to assume, but to elucidate and clarify a news story as if the reader knows nothing at all about it. Here publishers and news editors fail to do justice to reports as they transform themselves into butchers, cutting chunks of valuable information indiscriminately. This might be an overstatement because the cutting of valuable information is premeditated.

Some publishers have personalities to protect. Every time such personalities are highlighted negatively, the story is either killed or edited in such a way that the news is killed. Sometime in 2009, a seminar on corruption held in Buea. The participant from the American embassy declared that he was ashamed to call the Honourable Rose Abunaw such because she was a disgrace. This was because she was behind the many visa scams for which Dr Fonkam Azu Simon was accused on the private media.  Even though there was enough evidence to pin down Rose Abunaw as the culprit, this newspaper publisher decided that the story be censored.  What about the publishers/editors who will call the culprits reported in an article to come and buy off the story?

Selling of stories to culprits might even be more profitable than selling papers on the streets. No Cameroonian paper sells 3,000 copies per edition. Cameroonians prefer to save their money for beer and other mundane concerns than buy a paper which does not articulate their anxieties and propose solutions. Government too has censored the papers by making them unaffordable to the common man. At FCFA 400 for 16 pages, most folks find it a waste of scarce resources buying a paper. Publishers, therefore, resort to unpalatable strategies to make money; smear campaigns, selling stories and blackmail.

Some news organs have simply transformed themselves into griots or praise singersfor some powerful elite. You cannot blame them as most are unable to put food on their tables nor keep their issues in school. You need to see how some news gatherers fight over food at conferences to which their news organs were never invited. such events provide them the unique opportunity to have a balance meal. They will heap food on their plates till you cannot see their faces from across the table. With many months of unpaid wages, it is enough to turn them in any direction with as little as FCFA 5,000.

Government can reverse this negative trend by throwing its weight behind the media and supporting them in every material way possible. This though runs the risk of transforming some publishers into band boys of the government dimabola chorus. In this election season, more seminars should be organized to drill reporters on reporting and the media laws. Government should be lobbied to support media house financially. This may help check some of the abuses noticed with private media corporations. The public services should also avail media houses of information. 

 
Fon Christopher Achobang
Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Arts
University of Buea
P.O. Box 63 Buea

(Senior Translator),
English-French- English
Expertise; International Business Translation; Literary Translation, Medical Translation; Editing; Proofreading.

(Senior Reporter)
P.O. Box 1095 Limbe
The Cameroons

Tel, 237 99365954

Flashback: Election Fraud in Cameroon Washington Times

Biya’s Democracy, or an Exercise in Fraud? 

Some criticize the ’04 Cameroon vote. Several on a regime-funded U.S. team call it free and fair. 

By Ken Silverstein 

February 14, 2005 

President Paul Biya of Cameroon

 

WASHINGTON — When the strongman who has ruled the West African country of Cameroon for more than 20 years swept to another election victory last fall, a number of observers quickly questioned the process. 

International monitors led by a former Canadian prime minister said they had no confidence in the voter registration lists. Roman Catholic Cardinal Christian Tumi of Cameroon said the election, like all others in his country, was “surrounded by fraud.” 

But former members of the U.S. Congress on the scene were more upbeat about President Paul Biya’s 71% landslide. “In general, the process was free,” Ronnie Shows, one of six observers from the Washington-based U.S. Assn. of Former Members of Congress, told reporters in Cameroon. “This is what democracy is about.” 

The American mission was different in another way: It had been organized by an association member who also was a lobbyist for Biya’s government. The lobbyist served as the mission’s chief staffer and billed Cameroon for his work. 

Biya’s government also picked up the $80,000 tab for the Americans’ visit. And a month after the group left, one of the six observers signed his own lobbying contract with Cameroon, promising to show that the country was making great strides in human rights and democracy, according to federal lobby disclosure records. 

Association Executive Director Peter Weichlein defended the mission, saying it met all ethical standards and that a written report a week after the election included serious criticisms of the process. Five of the observers said in interviews that they had no problem with the lobbyist, former Rep. Greg Laughlin, playing such a key role in the mission. 

But three experienced election monitoring groups contacted by The Times said their standards would bar a variety of the association’s procedures in Cameroon. 

David Carroll, director of democracy programs at the Carter Center, which has monitored dozens of foreign elections, said his group did not accept funding from the government of a country where it was observing an election. 

“That’s a clear conflict of interest,” he said. “So is the involvement of anyone on the delegation who has a clear financial or political interest at stake.” 

A spokesman at Cameroon’s embassy in Washington said he was surprised that former members of Congress had allowed his government to pay for their trip. “It’s not normal practice,” said Richard Nyamboli. “I would think they would want to be autonomous.” 

The association of former lawmakers was chartered by Congress in 1970 to educate the public on “the crucial importance of representative democracy” at home and abroad. Its budget last year was about $750,000, mainly from dues paid by nearly 600 members, grants and an annual fundraiser. Of the association’s 24 board members, at least 18 work or have worked as lobbyists, four of them for foreign countries. 

In addition to its educational programs, the association’s activities include advising parliaments in Eastern European countries such as Poland and Ukraine. 

Last year it delved into election monitoring, sending a mission to Ukraine that was funded by the Washington-based U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, an organization co-founded by the wife of newly elected President Viktor Yushchenko. 

Four delegations sent July through October reported that the election process favored then-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, Yushchenko’s presidential opponent. Yanukovich claimed victory in a November runoff election, but after protests in Kiev, the capital, the runoff was repeated, and Yushchenko won. 

(A different group of retired members of Congress also monitored the Ukrainian election and reported that the first round in October was essentially free and fair. That group, which was not affiliated with the association, was organized and funded by three businessmen close to Yanukovich.) 

In July, the Washington law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs inked a $400,000 deal to help improve ties between the U.S. and Cameroon, including on “issues relating” to the October election, federal disclosure forms show. Three Patton Boggs lobbyists, including Laughlin, traveled to Cameroon in August. Laughlin said in an interview that government officials told him they wanted Americans to monitor the vote so they could see how much progress Cameroon had made in building a democracy. 

Laughlin contacted Weichlein about sending an observer mission. Weichlein told The Times that the Biya government agreed to cover expenses and that the delegation members donated their time. Association officials also met with Laughlin to discuss their concerns about a possible conflict of interest, Weichlein said. 

“We sat down with him and said the mission had to be independent,” Weichlein said. “He said that was fine, the government felt it had made great strides and wanted the international community to be aware of that.” 

Cameroon was formed by a 1961 merger between two former territories controlled by France and Britain, but the country didn’t legalize opposition parties until three decades later. Biya, who took power in 1982, won multiparty presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. Those votes were “marred by severe irregularities,” according to a U.S. State Department report issued this year. 

And a separate State Department report, an annual human rights survey, says that the country’s security forces “committed numerous unlawful killings and were responsible for torture, beatings and other abuses,” and that the government “continued to arrest and detain arbitrarily various opposition politicians, local human rights monitors and other citizens.” 

In the current annual survey on corruption by Berlin-based Transparency International, Cameroon is tied for 129th place out of 146 countries. 

Yet for a number of years, the U.S. has maintained friendly ties with Cameroon and other energy-rich West African countries, which have become a growing source of oil imports. The U.S. bought more than $225 million in goods from Cameroon last year, mostly oil, and is one of the country’s major trading partners. 

Cameroon has held one of the rotating seats on the United Nations Security Council since 2002, and it backed Washington’s attempt to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Biya made his first visit to the White House on March 20, 2003, the day of the U.S.-led invasion against Saddam Hussein. 

The official observer team of the former lawmakers association arrived in Cameroon on Oct. 8, three days before the vote. In addition to Shows (D-Miss.), it consisted of former Reps. Michael Forbes (D-N.Y.), Webb Franklin (R-Miss.), Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), Richard Schulze (R-Pa.) and Joe Wyatt Jr. (D-Texas). 

Laughlin, a Texas Democrat who lost his 1996 reelection bid after switching to the Republican Party, and fellow association staffer Rebecca Zylberman arrived two days earlier. 

Laughlin arranged the group’s hotels and transportation and set up interviews with government officials and a briefing at the U.S. Embassy. 

“We relied on Greg 100% to put the trip together,” Weichlein said. 

The observers split into three groups and visited the country’s two biggest cities, Douala and Yaounde, as well as a few towns. They also met with representatives of opposition parties, interviewed election officials and visited polling stations. Laughlin did not go with the delegates to observe the actual vote. 

On Oct. 12, as votes were being counted, association members spoke to the media. Even though Laughlin was not an official member of the delegation, he was identified in Cameroonian and foreign news accounts as its leader. He praised the transparency of the vote, with media accounts quoting him as saying, “The elections were conducted fairly.” 

A postelection statement issued by U.S. Ambassador R. Niels Marquardt said the balloting marked “a positive step forward for this country’s evolving democracy.” 

Cameroon’s pro-government media outlets gave the U.S. delegation prominent coverage. 

“Voting Conduct Impresses American Observers,” the headline in the state-owned Cameroon Tribune said. According to the article, the Americans had “exalted” Cameroon’s democratic process. It quoted an unidentified team member as saying, “Cameroon is well on its way in the democratic process.” 

The British Broadcasting Corp. and the Agence France-Presse news agency reported that government denials of election fraud had been backed up by former members of Congress. 

The association issued a report a week after the vote that was more critical than the comments the delegation members had made in Cameroon. It includes complaints from opposition parties and reports a “significant number of irregularities,” including the media’s pro-government slant. It says that “many potential voters” had been unable to register because of their “assumed political sympathies.” 

The report also says that the irregularities were not enough for the association to “disapprove of the balloting process itself.” It calls for the strengthening of the new National Elections Observatory, and says its involvement in the vote marked “an important degree of progress against the background of past elections that were not well-supervised nor widely accepted as open, free and fair.” 

The report, which disclosed the Cameroon government’s funding of the monitoring mission but did not mention Laughlin’s role, acknowledged that government staffers had accompanied two of the three groups of delegates on election day. Although the officials did not limit the observers’ activities, they “did have a large role in outlining the agenda for the day,” it said. 

For one team, the government staffers helped determine which polling stations would be visited. That team, in which Franklin said he was paired with Schulze, reported “no instances of complaints from individuals regarding the denial of voting rights.” 

Weichlein and Laughlin both said that Laughlin had no input into the report. 

“When you get funding from one side, the other side is always going to accuse you of bias, but our report was not a whitewash,” Weichlein said. 

Schulze said he considered the final report too critical of Cameroon. “It now has freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and a good measure of toleration,” he said in an e-mail to The Times. “There was no violence and no coercion.” 

A group of observers from Commonwealth countries, led by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, began arriving in Cameroon about six weeks before the election. They deployed 24 monitors on the day of the vote and visited 263 polling stations across all of Cameroon’s provinces. 

In contrast to the association members’ remarks to the media, the Commonwealth group released a statement when it left Cameroon that said that “in a number of key areas, the electoral process lacked the necessary credibility.” 

It issued a 50-page report that also covered Cameroon’s poor human rights record and the government’s history of political violence against the opposition, topics not addressed in the 11-page American report. 

In its report, the Commonwealth group said that the registration process might have “missed a considerable portion of the voting-age population of Cameroon” and that the group had no confidence in the list of those who did register. Its teams encountered complaints from people who said they had registered but whose names did not appear on the lists. Some teams reported that the complaints were “numerous and vociferous.” 

“We ran into swarms of people who had been declared ineligible to vote,” Clark said. 

The report added that the National Elections Observatory lacked credibility and suffered from a “lack of financial resources, staff and enforcement powers.” 

Carroll said the Carter Center did not accept government help with logistics, agenda or escort. 

“A prerequisite for us to accept an invitation is to have unimpeded access,” he said. “The whole idea is to be independent and your movements unknown. If officials know where you are going, they have more ability to manipulate the process.” 

Clark, a member of the Assn. of Former Parliamentarians of Canada, said he had discussed the American mission with his board so “we can take steps to ensure that we don’t slip into the same type of practices” on election missions. 

In November, just more than a month after the election, delegation member Schulze — a member of the association’s board and a lobbyist at Valis Associates — signed up a new client: the Biya government. In exchange for an initial retainer of $149,972, he and two other company lobbyists are to help “maximize the impact of Cameroon’s political and economic reforms on agencies and departments of the U.S. government,” according to disclosure forms. 

Schulze said that after returning to the United States, he contacted some of the people he had met in Cameroon. It “was these discussions, along with our firm’s background and experience, which led to our being placed on retainer,” he said. 

That same month, former Rep. Maguire wrote a sharply critical opinion piece in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger calling the Cameroon election an example of how “dictators masquerade as democrats.” In a subsequent interview with The Times, he defended the association’s observer mission but said that he thought it was impossible to have a free election in Cameroon. 

Two other delegation members, Wyatt and Franklin, swiftly reacted to Maguire’s column. Franklin said they had worked with lobbyists Laughlin and Schulze to craft a letter to the editor that declared the election “free, fair and transparent.” 

Weichlein said the association hoped to expand its election observer program in the years ahead. 

“We have a unique pool of experienced legislators,” he said. “If asked, we can lend our knowledge and be extremely helpful to emerging democracies.” 

Times Staff Writer

Committee to Protect Journalists Write to Mr. Biya

April 25, 2010

H.E. Paul Biya
President of the Republic of Cameroon
Yaoundé , Cameroon

Via facsimile: (237) 22 20 33 06

Dear President Biya,

Following Thursday’s death of newspaper editor Germain S. Ngota Ngota, whose health deteriorated while he was incarcerated in Kondengui Prison in the capital, Yaoundé, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on you to launch a public, thorough, and transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his death. We urge you to provide guarantees for the well-being of three other journalists held in Cameroonian prisons and address ongoing abuses—including allegations of state torture—against independent journalists who raise questions about the administration’s performance.

Ngota, editor of the private bimonthly Cameroon Express, died from “abandonment, improper care” and “failure to render assistance,” according to a prison death certificate that his family shared with journalists. Ngota, known by his nickname Bibi, suffered from high blood pressure and a hernia. Daily Le Jour quoted Ngota’s father as saying that his son’s medical conditions were diagnosed by a prison doctor identified as Dr. Ndi.

Ngota was arrested on February 25, along with editors Harrys Robert Mintya of Le Devoir and Serge Sabouang of La Nation, in connection with a criminal complaint from top presidential aide Laurent Esso in response to their investigation of corruption allegations involving Esso and the state oil company, National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH). The journalists were transferred to Kondengui prison in March under terms of pre-trial detention—which can lasts up to six months and can be extended twice, lawyer Jean-Marie Nouga told CPJ.

Three weeks before his arrest by police, Ngota was picked up by agents of the Cameroon intelligence agency (DGRE) while being treated for high blood pressure at Biyem-Assi district hospital in Yaoundé, Ngota’s father told Le Jour. He was held incommunicado without charge with Mintya, Sabouang and reporter Simon Hervé Nko’o of Bebela. The government has not publicly addressed Nko’o’s claims that security agents used psychological and physical torture to force the journalists to reveal their source for a document on which the allegations were based. Nko’o has since fled into hiding.

Your Excellency, we hold the government of Cameroon responsible for the well-being of the three newspaper editors currently held in state detention facilities, namely Mintya, Sabouang and Lewis Medjo of the defunct weekly La Détente Libre. Imprisoned since September 2008 at New Bell prison in the commercial city of Douala , Medjo’s health has deteriorated while in custody. He lost hearing in his right ear as a result of a severe ear infection while serving a three-year sentence over his coverage of a presidential decree, his brother Michée Medjo Gatheu told CPJ.

Accordingly, we exhort you to urgently take all the necessary steps to ensure that transparent investigations into Ngota’s death and allegations of torture against Nko’o are conducted, and that the results be made public. We ask you to hold to account all officials involved in abuses against their critics in the press and we urge you to initiate media reforms, particularly the decriminalization of press offenses, so that the press is able to raise questions about the management of public finances and cover the news without fear of reprisals.

Thank for your attention to these very important matters. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon
Executive Director

CC:

H.E. Bienvenue Joseph Charles Foe Atangana, Ambassador of Cameroon to the United States

Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Hon. Jean-Jacques Ekindi, Member of National Assembly of Cameroon
Sen. Russ Feingold, Ranking Majority Member, Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs

Sen. Richard Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader , United States Senate

Benoît Sossou, UNESCO Representative in Cameroon

Ekue G. Kpodar, International Monetary Fund Representative in Cameroon
Mary Barton Dock, World Bank Cameroon Director of Operations
Faith Pansy Tlakula , African Commission Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

Manfred Nowak, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
United Nations Committee against Torture

International Federation for Human Rights

H.E. Janet Garvey, Ambassador of the United States to Cameroon
Michelle Gavin, Africa Director, U.S. National Security Council

Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor , U.S. Department of State

H.E. Bruno Gain, Ambassador of France to Cameroon

H.E. Raul Mateus Paula, Head of the European Union Delegation to Cameroon

International Federation of Journalists
Freedom of Expression and Democracy Unit, UNESCO
Freedom House

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

The Pied Piper of Exotic Southern Cameroons upon Ambas. Translation by Ntemfac Ofege

Southern Cameroons upon Ambas,
Below the soaring Fako Mountain;
The Atlantic Ocean, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Forty years and nine  this day,
To see the people suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

Frogs!

They swarmed the land by daylight,

And sneaked in by moonlight,

Conned Old Man Foncha with sweet talks of unification,

And took over the government,

And spread their nature of infamy, fraud and corruption,

Split up the land into provinces, divisions and districts,

And became the occupier,

Named vile tyrants or pro-consults in charge.

Brought in gendarmes by the truckloads,

To spread terror and mayhem,

Murdered the trusting citizens at Santa and Ebubu,

Slaughtered the country’s strong democratic culture and institutions,

Fired Augustine Ngom Jua who protested,

And named two-face Solomon Tandeng Muna in his stead

Corrupted the entire civil service with paper money,

And savaged the territory’s once buoyant economy,

They took over CDC and killed POWERCAM.

Buried the thriving Victoria Seaport underwater,

And tossed the Tiko Wharf into the Muck,

Erased the Bali, Tiko, Besonabang airports.

And turned our towns into ghost towns, when not war zones,

They stole the oil by the tanker-loads,

And lapped up minerals from the mines at lowly Bafaka,

And ate of the proceeds until they dripped with fats,

They placed a bomb within agreeable Lake Nyos

Causing horrendous deaths in the thousands.
Wasted a nation’s education organization,

And roared in mirth as the children to foreign lands escaped.

Gave the themselves choice spots in the administration,

Turned the good natives into beggars,

And called then fools or enemies in the fold when they protested,

And even spoiled the people’s open chats,
By drowning their speaking
With Merde! and croaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
To the Mount Mary Maternity came flocking:

Led thereto by Munzu, Elad and Anyangwe,
“‘Tis clear,” cried they, “our leaders are noddies;

Yawning when not snoring!
And as for the stooge of a Prime Minister —shocking
To think we make regular complaints,
To dolts that can’t or won’t determine
What’s best to rid us of frogs!
You hope, because you’re old and rheumatic,
To find in your cricket coats ease?
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we’re lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we’ll send you packing!”
At this the leaders of the people,

Pa Foncha and Solomon Tandeng Muna twain,
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

At having been found out.

Three days they sat in council,
At length, Pa Foncha broke silence:
“For the old British Southern Cameroons crown I’d my robe of office sell;

Grand Chancellor availeth me naught.

These people do have short memories,

They forget so soon,

That I was from my lofty positions as Vice President dumped,

Er yes, and as perpetual Vice Chairman of the Party too,

These people are like elephants,

They do not see my mighty efforts.
I wish I were a mile hence!
It’s easy to bid one rack one’s brain— 
I’m sure my poor old head aches again
I’ve scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for some guns, some guns, some guns!”
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
“Bless us,” cried Pa Foncha and Muna in unism, “what’s that?”
(With the Council as he sat,
Looking old and as skinny as a lath;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his appetite grew mutinous
For a plate of achu and goat-meat)
“Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a frog gendarme
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!”

“Come in!”—Old Foncha cried, looking bigger:

Ay yes, and taller too!
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of Human and half of Peoples Rights;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in— 
There was no guessing his kith and kin!

But like a dispenser of justice he looked!
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire:
Quoth one: “It’s as Old Abendong!
Starting up at the Ntamulung grave
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”

To wreak justice upon they that murdered him.

 

To be Continued…

A translation can stir all of the senses, and the subject matter of a translation can range from being funny to being sad. We hope that you liked this translation and the sentiments in the words of The Pied Piper Of  Exotic Southern Cameroons Upon Ambas by Ntemfac Ofege you will find other works by the translator on google.

Hot Water for the Famous Seven. A Novel about Sacred Heart College

The principal of Sacred Heart College, Mankon, Brother Hugh McGregor Jones, sat behind his huge mahogany desk practically rubbing his hands.

A savage grin, starting from his fleshy cheeks, but not staying there, contorted his still smooth countenance, adding age and some new wrinkles to his face.

The friar was pleased with himself.

Very pleased.

In fact, at that precise moment, Brother Hugh reasoned that his omniscience, his omnipresence and his omnipotence had paid off.

He now had his tormentor-in-chief – Bamanga Njuma of the fifth – in the shooting sights with the cross hairs fixed on the boy’s mischief-filled head, dead centre.

All he had to do now was squeeze on the trigger and a serious menace to his peace, the peace of Sacred Heart College and the peace of all humanity would be no more.

He could almost feel his devastating trigger finger tingling as it always did before a kill. Now there would be no mercy. Now a huge thorn would be taken out of his flesh before dawn. Now the student with the trademark big inane laugh would be reduced to silence.

Somewhere in the building, the deep booms of a wall clock preceded the strident clang of a brass bell.

9. pm.

Prep was over. In his mind’s eye, Brother Hugh could see the relieved classrooms wheeling out their even more relieved content – seven hundred students, if everyone had attended prep, which would be a miracle, into the numerous corridors of the main building.

Sneak Preview: The Return of Omar. United Media Incorporated’s Children Education Series

Aruna, the paramount Chief of Ndaka, was dying. The chief had come down with what the elders2  of the village thought was a slight fever.

       As the days went by, the chief’s conditions worsened. He lay tossing and turning from one side of his bamboo bed to the other.

       Then the cough came. It was a terrible cough3  and very dry. The chief’s ribs threatened to come out of his chest with each cough.

       A new disease had come upon the land, one for which there was no cure. It looked like that disease had come upon the House of Ndaka.4 

       After the palace magicians had tried to save the chief in vain, the elders went and summoned Meiwuta, the most powerful medicine man in all of Ndaka.

       Meiwuta came, dressed in his traditional attire of chimpanzee skin. He had his powerful staff in one hand and all the amulets5  of his medicine in the other hand. The charms stretched from his wrist to the end of his arm. His black medicine bag hung from his neck.

       A very extraordinary person was Meiwuta the witch doctor. He was thin, very tall and straight as a tree. His head, shaped like the tip of an arrow, rose steeply from middle of his tiny chest. The top of the head then flattened out briefly before rising again to end in steep hill.

       What frightened many about Meiwuta were his cross-eyes.6  It was as if his left eye looked this way while his right eye looked the other way. Those crafty eyes of his, stuck out his head like fires shinning out of the evil forests7  in the night.

       Another thing about Meiwuta was that the man always smelt like a bag of bad medicine.  The villagers said that the smell of Meiwuta could go over the distant hills and reach Abafum8  in the flat land.

       Meiwuta thus came and stood by Aruna’s bed. The witch doctor immediately perceived the gravity of the malady that had come upon the chief. 

       “Go and bring more logs of wood,” Meiwuta ordered Mata Mero,9  the chief’s first wife, the one who was the mother of Omar.

       Meiwuta had a voice like the clap of thunder. His voice rose in the hut like the thump of the calabash upon the waters. Its report hit the wall on the far side and then came back again with a solid clap.

       Mero was now slow of hearing. Meiwuta had spoken like the voice of the thunder yet Mero still failed to hear him. The age was now telling on the woman.

        “What—!” Mata Mero asked in that gentle lisping voice of hers.

       “Woman…I told you to bring more firewood for this fire! Do it this minute and stop standing there opening your mouth like a sick hen!”

       Mero glared at him.

       Chief Aruna, who lay quietly in the bed, raised an eyebrow as Meiwuta scolded his first wife. Leaning on one elbow, the chief tried to get up and failed.

       Shatu, the chief’s youngest wife, did not wait for Meiwuta to thunder again. She left the chamber immediately. She returned some moments later with several of the Chief Aruna’s warriors.10  Each of them bore a huge log of wood on the shoulder.

       Danladi, the one who led the warriors, bore two of the largest logs. The logs banged upon each other as Danladi came through the main portal of the hut. The boy dropped the logs effortlessly on the near side close to where Meiwuta stood. Then he brushed the dirt from his big chest and made for the door of the hut.

 “Danladi—”

“Yes Baba—”

“Please, stay—”

       Meiwuta’s voice was now gentle. The witch doctor now looked at the boy with kindness. Danladi was his first son. The villagers said that Danladi’s superhuman strength came from his father. The boy was only two months old when Meiwuta took him into the forest and boiled him in pot of special charm. The medicine did not touch Danladi’s head. 

       Danladi, however, came out of that pot as strong as a wild boar and twice as vicious. The boy was now so strong that not even the arrows from the largest bow could piece his body. His head, which was not touched by the medicine, remained vulnerable11  to danger.

       As Danladi came closer, Meiwuta indicated the logs pointing with his mouth. Danladi understood immediately. The boy lifted two of the logs, as if they were twigs, and dropped them into the fireplace. His father now reached into his handbag, pulled out a pouch containing some brown powder. He sprayed the powder upon the logs. A blue flame rose from the fireplace. Moments later a stinging smoke filled the chamber.

            Everyone in the room started coughing.

Thinking Aloud of Issues Old and New. By Vincent N. Feko. Civil Society Senior Citizen, Human Rights Defender, Group Leader

In his End of Year State of the Nation Address, 31 December 2009, President Paul BIYA, said, inter alia: “My dear Compatriots, the fiftieth anniversary of independence in 2010 is a prelude to the fiftieth anniversary of Reunification which we will be celebrating in 2011.” This sounds like the rejuvenation of Reunification in 2011. What an after thought!

Regardless of the distortion and obliteration of British Cameroons history by the word: Reunification, an inquisitive mind would like to know the circumstances of the afterthought. For example, the thirtieth independence anniversary was celebrated with fanfare on 1 January 1990. It was not celebrated as a prelude to the thirtieth anniversary of Reunification which should have been celebrated in 1991. And as if these state issues are as complex to understand as the management of the oil revenue according to ASSOUMOU, the governor, who has the monopoly of understanding in this domain and is accountable to the governed, has not considered an explanation to the latter as a necessity. That thirtieth independence anniversary celebration was closed with the issuing of commemorative postage stamps with LRC’s map at independence, when it acceded to full-fledged membership of the United Nations on 20 September 1960 as a sovereign state.

Was thirty years too short a time in the life of a Reunified Country to warrant the celebration of its Reunification with commemorative objects bearing the Reunification map? Were those running the show not convinced that their Reunification was, to use the trite, something to write home about? In other words, was the Reunification lacking justification and it is only now that it can be justified and assured? Is the BAKASSI card at play? Are we to understand that, henceforth, LRC’s independence anniversary celebration will be a prelude to the Reunification anniversary celebration the following year?

Understandably, the fiftieth anniversary of independence commemorative map of LRC will in no way be different from that on the 1 January 1990 commemorative postage stamps, will it? Is it the understanding then, that with Reunification now assured, the authentic Reunification map will be released and imprinted on the fiftieth anniversary of Reunification commemorative objects in 2011?

What will that great date in 2011 be, 1 October, the date, in 2001, that 3 of our illustrious citizens were gunned down by Gendarmes in KUMBO in the Banso upland country, for celebrating the fortieth independence anniversary of Southern Cameroons, and people in their thousands were arrested and detained in most of the principal towns of Southern Cameroons for daring similar celebrations?

Incidentally, 11 February 2010, the anniversary of the United Nations’ BRIDGE by which it is claimed, Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun were brought together, is being celebrated today. That is the United Nations PLEBISCITE date on which part of the British Cameroons, Southern Cameroons precisely, freely and overwhelmingly voted to ACHIEVE INDEPENDENCE by JOINING la Republique du Cameroun as equal partners and not to be absorbed, as it would be absurd to think that’s how they voted. The Unification which LRC deceitfully calls Reunification was predicated on the achievement of that independence. So, LRC can not claim to welcome the Reunification and deny the independence. We are faced here with another but different TWO ALTERNATIVES: either Southern Cameroons achieved Independence and went into Reunification with La Republique du Cameroun, in which case it would be the Senegambia model; Or Southern Cameroons never achieved Independence and therefore, never went into Reunification with La Republique du Cameroun. Independence of Southern Cameroons ought to have been the bridge of the Reunification if the Reunification were not a myth or a figment of the imagination. You do not cross a bridge and collapse it or pretend that you never crossed it, or that one never existed. How do you justify being where you say you are, and gathering momentum to celebrate your fiftieth anniversary in 2011, when crossing a bridge was an international conditionality you circumvented?

Not surprisingly though, the more the Reunification saga seeks to transcend myth, the more mythical the thing looks by the methods employed, and the more it gathers momentum for self-dislodgement. For example, 11 February, 20 May, and 1 October, once LRC’s officially celebrated anniversaries before 1 October was dropped, and to be reinstated in 2011; have been, and continue to be laborious and futile attempts to legitimize a conceptual Reunification. What is LRC’s business celebrating 11 February, the memorable PLEBISCITE anniversary of British Southern Cameroons, and faking it as Youth Day? Youth Day, in commemoration of what outstanding achievement of LRC’s youth on the 11 February and of which year? What is the justification? Isn’t it simply one of those insidious methods usually employed to obliterate important landmarks in the history of Southern Cameroons? 1 October and 20 May, are progressions from 11 February. And like 11 February, there is no justification for celebrating them because none of them is LRC’s independence anniversary or National Day, None of them is significant in the history of their evolution. 1 January 1960, is the date the French handed down Independence, within the French Union, to French Cameroun with the new name of La Republique du Cameroun(LRC). The Independence was ratified by the United Nations on the 20 September 1960, on the Republic’s accession to membership of the United Nations.

Southern Cameroons was neither a part of French Cameroun before 1 January 1960, nor a part of LRC on, or after 1 January 1960, up till today. That is the reason why President Paul Biya, in his end of the Year Address to the Nation on 31 December 2009, could proudly and confidently declare: “On 1 January 1960, our independence was proclaimed. As from tomorrow we will therefore be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our accession to sovereignty.” By this declaration, President Biya impliedly affirms that 1 January is the independence anniversary of La Republique du Cameroun, and as such, the nation’s National Day since National Day is a derivative or offshoot of the independence date which is unique.

For Mr Biya to make that famous Declaration and in the same breath endorse his predecessor’s 20th May as La Republique du Cameroun’s National Day on a false premise, is to undermine the solemnity of the National Day, contradict himself, confuse his people and the international community, and display dishonesty.

If Southern Cameroons had achieved independence by joining LRC on 1 October 1961, as was programmed by the United Nations, a new nation state, christened by the United Nations as, the FEDERAL UNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC, should have been born. It is significant to note that Southern Cameroons should have taken exceptions to having its independence linked to the French Union. It is therefore the FEDERAL UNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC that should have ushered in, Unification. The word: Unification has its origin from the word: United, found in the new name: Federal United Cameroon Republic. Even after modifying the name to the: FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON by dropping UNITED, the first President, Mr Ahidjo picked it up again in the second REPUBLIC he called: UNITED REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, which Mr Biya inherited but by nostalgia deleted to retain, REPUBLIC OF CAMEROUN or LRC. By the deletion of the word: United, Mr Biya destroyed all traces of Unification and Reunification which he has awakened too late to celebrate. What is the raison d’etre for President Biya contemplating on commemorating what he hated and destroyed, 25 years ago? Is he now conceding that he is a victim of his own imprudence?

If the United Nations wanted Reunification, they would have said so by the appellation: FEDERAL REUNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC. That way, the second Republic, by Ahidjo’s formula, should have been called: REUNITED REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON which his successor should have inherited, and from which Reunification could logically have been derived. You do not inherit something, then reject it, and turn around and show the world quite a different thing you have chosen to inherit.

By inheritance, Unification was a “reality” that was ephemeral. Reunification is a phantom. It would be deceitful though, to celebrate Unification because, by empirical analysis, it has never existed; and celebrating Reunification would be compounding the deceit.

The building of a nation on falsehood, as the track record of la Republique du Cameroun shows every passing minute, is like the Biblical building of a house on a sandy foundation, and that house did not last; it collapsed.

For example, every one knows, as an open secret, that from the year 2003, Southern Cameroons representatives, SCNC/SCAPO, filed lawsuits against the government of LRC at the United Nations Council on Human Rights (UNCHR) by the medium of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation(UNPO), at the Hague; and at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights(ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia; for various offences committed against the people of Southern Cameroons and their territory. The offences range from Human Rights abuse, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture, economic rape, extra-judicial killings, forceful colonization, etc. The Verdict of the ACHPR’s Communication 266/2003 came out in May 2009 and was published in October 2009. The Commission, in their Recommendations, called for a Constructive Dialogue between the Complainants and the Respondent State to resolve Constitutional issues and grievances, under the auspices of the ACHPR; and each party was given 180 days to inform the Commission of its action. Whereas the Complainants have signaled the Commission on their preparedness for the Dialogue, and expected a similar response from the State party, LRC has not only unleashed a campaign of terror and witch –hunt against their adversary, President Biya has, in his end of Year Address on 31 December 2009, promised them mayhem.

President Biya has mentioned neither names of individuals nor organizations. But the message leaves no one in doubt that his target is SCNC/SCAPO, and Southern Cameroonians in the country and the Diaspora. Here is his stern warning: “I take this opportunity to denounce systematic contestation by a minority of our compatriots who readily resort to lie-telling and slander. Undoubtedly, they would rather our country plunged into all forms of chaos for them to achieve their aims.”

Isn’t it ironical that Mr Biya is now convinced of the chaos he has undoubtedly, been engineering since the year 1993? Has Mr Biya so soon forgotten that between 1993 and 2000, the Standing Committee of the ALL ANGLOPHONE CONFERENCE(AAC 1&11) and the SCNC of the SOUTHERN CAMEROONS PEOPLES CONFERENCE(SCPC) sent him not less than forty memoranda requesting him to create a forum for a Constructive Dialogue between his Government and representatives of the Southern Cameroons people, in a bid to resolving the Constitutional problem and subsequent return to the two states Federation of equal status that was unconstitutionally abolished in 1972; that shortly after the take over of Radio BUEA on 30/31 December 1999 by Rtd. Justice Frederick EBONG and five others including Chief Ette Otun AYAMBA, Chair of the SCNC, and broadcasting the Proclamation of the restoration of Southern Cameroons independence; Kofi Annan, the eminent emeritus Secretary-General of the United Nations, rushed in here, following the arrests and underground detention of Justice EBONG and his team, to request His Excellency to Dialogue with Southern Cameroons representatives; and, finally that, eighteen years later, the ACHPR, in their Verdict of Communication 266/2003, has made a similar Recommendation, among others? Has the President budged? Why not?

President Biya should be informed that it is this intransigence that is engendering the”systematic contestation,” and the only way to disprove their “lie-telling and slander,” is to open up to the Dialogue and let the Dialogue vindicate him. You don’t counteract “lie-telling and slander” by another lie-telling and slander of outrageous proportions. His adversary possess the truth, hence the systematic contestation. The only way Mr President can expose the lie-telling and slander of his adversary is at the Dialogue forum not by using the big stick to silence them. No one without a skeleton in his cupboard would resort to such Machiavellian tactics.

How can the Government hide the ACHPR’s Communication 266/2003 proceedings, and the President makes a turn a round to accuse their adversary of “lie-telling and slander,” and claims to be speaking on behalf of the people he expects to vindicate him, but from whom his Government has hidden the material on which they are expected to base their judgment? So, from a kindergarten arithmetical process of substitution and elimination, whose stock- in- trade is “lie-telling and slander”?

If the people who were arrested and detained in BAMENDA, for example, for no other offence than the distribution of the ACHPR’s Verdict in Communication 266/2003 (Southern Cameroons Vs Republic of Cameroun ), have by now been released, then it is thanks, to the whole gamut of international Human Rights Organisations that mounted continuous pressure on the regime for their release.

Perhaps it has not occurred to Government that hiding the Verdict amounts to its non recognition, as well as questioning the authority of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), and the African Union (AU) of which the Commission is an Organ. This is strange because, LRC is an accredited member of the AU and has pledged to uphold the Union’s Constitutive Act and Charter, and its other regulatory instruments. To put up an afterthought posture of repulsion in circumstances as those of the Verdict, can be likened to: desperately wanting back your cake after eating it. You can not, in one instant, submit yourself to the jurisdiction of a court, and in another, question the same jurisdiction.

By his stern warning, Mr Biya seems to be getting a message across that, irrespective of any outcome from any international Tribunal, he and his government will resort to the law of the jungle and use the big stick. In case Mr President has lost sight that his warning is an open declaration of WAR against Southern Cameroonians and their territory, he should be so acquainted so that he does not shy away from his responsibility when his fomentation reaches its critical mass.

America, Britain, and France who are arming LRC every passing day in exchange for oil for which Southern Cameroonians are paying with their blood, are called upon to reexamine their consciences and come to the realization that it is an inherent contradiction to preach justice and practice injustice for the love of oil, and to sacrifice the Rule of Law on the altar of jungle Law for the sake of oil.

The foresighted statesman, Fon GORJI DINKA, QC, perceived the approach of this calamity way back in 1985 when he made his famous address in which he called on LRC’s Army to: DIFFUSE THE TIME BOMB. GORJI DINKA suffered persecution, then he escaped, and now living in asylum in London; but the TB still needs to be diffused. The prescription: the Army should call on President Biya to divert the energy and resources he is using to foment war, to organize the Constructive Dialogue recommended by the ACHPR between the Respondent State and the Complainants, under the auspices of the African Commission. The Army should take their responsibility because, if they must fight a war, they should do so with clean and clear consciences that they are fighting and killing one another for a defendable and just cause and not for the sheer display of means and might to the glory of a Fuhrer.

Introducing Peasant Economists, PEECAS, and its Dream: From Us, For Us and By Us

Critical question. Where will Cameroon be in 50 years time? What future are we preparing for our children, and the children of our children? Who shall build us schools and hospitals, build bridges over our rivers, electrify our towns and villages, tar our roads, and supply clean drinking water to our poor villages? So many questions, but very few answers. Unfortunately. We believe that Peasant Economists is the answer. In fact, we believe every one of us is the answer to these questions. We, the Peasant Economists, believe the future of our country lies in our hands. The marginalisation, isolation and neglect we face in our own country today is not, must not and can not be accepted as an explanation of and a justification of indifference. The hard times should instead be seen as a challenge and a call to immediate action. The solutions to our numerous problems can only come from us, for us, by us. Politicians, claiming to have answers have led us down, again and again. They have lied again and again; cheated us, stolen from us, broken many promises while we stand by, arms folded, and watch our degenerate. Cameroon has gone from failing to a near-failed state. So much so that many citizens given up hope and fled, never to return. In the midst of all the misery we face today a lot of talking is going on, some are talking of a revolution, some talk of war, while others talk of independence. We, the peasant economists, hate talking. We are nation builders. We believe that the time has come for concrete action on issues concerning the future and development of our country. On 20th January 1961 John Kennedy, during his inauguration as president of the United States challenged his fellow citizens when he said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ President Barack Obama on the day of his inauguration as president reminded Americans, that it will take everyone’s involvement to solve the huge financial crisis facing his country. That means even in the richest countries on earth, the governments cannot do it alone. The happenings of recent times remind us clearly that the will of man is the strongest force on earth. We have seen a black man tell Americans ‘Yes we can’ and become the president of that county. We have seen militia groups, either defeat or survive the onslaught of one of the most modern and ruthless armies in the world. The Peasant Economists do believe its time for us, to believe in ourselves, organise ourselves, put our hands together to build and to develop our country. Our government has not, cannot and will not do it for us. After crying, grumbling and complaining and blaming each other for many years, the time for us to come together is now, not tomorrow. The great Chinese leader Mao Tse Tsung once said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.’ JFK also said ‘Let us resolve to be masters, not the victims, of our history, controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions and emotions.” The question we must ask ourselves is, ‘Have we taken that first step yet?’ We need schools, we need roads, we need hospitals; playgrounds we need electricity, we need water, we need intellectuals and experts, we need food, we need jobs, we need industries, we need banks and we need a beautiful country. We, the peasant economists, strongly believe that from us, by us and for us, together we could make our country a better place. All this will not be finished in one day, nor will it be finished in the first one year, maybe not in our generation, nor even perhaps in our lifetime. But let us begin.