Dec 2013

Cameroonian women and men,

My dear compatriots in the country and in the diaspora,

Every time I address you, it is with the same sense of honor and deep respect. This is particularly true at the end of the year, when you rightfully aspire to forget some of the daily worries and spend a moment of shared joy with family or friends. The magnitude and severity of the difficulties that many of you face, even during this festive period of the year, could have compelled me to remain silent. But precisely because I cannot be indifferent to your pains, nor remain silent in the face of our misfortunes, I believe it is my duty to address you at this particular moment. I do so in order to urge you not to give up, to preserve our common faith in a better future for this blessed land of Cameroon.

The year that is ending was marked, on the political level, mainly by the organization of the legislative and municipal elections of September 30th. The CRM had bet on confidence in the institutions in charge of organizing elections in our country, as well as in the capacity of all political parties taking part in these elections to seize the historic opportunity that was given to our country to show to our people and the world our common and irreversible commitment to the construction of a modern democracy, respectful of the choice of voters. Through your votes, you have massively and unambiguously placed your trust and hopes in our young party, the CRM. But, due to barbaric fraud and practices of another age, we were deprived of the historic victory that you granted us in most of the electoral constituencies where the CRM was in competition, especially in Mfoundi, Haut-Plateaux, Baham, Monatele, Deuk, Yokadouma. And after that, we were audaciously denied the right to express our indignation. The multiple and diverse proofs of these frauds were transmitted after our press conference of October 22nd, 2013, particularly to the highest authority of the State, the Government, ELECAM, as well as to the media. But, as I said during the press conference I gave after the election, the Cameroonian people will never again accept that their freely expressed will through their electoral choice is diverted. It is the place for me to thank again, sincerely and very warmly, the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for the CRM on the occasion of these elections, thus making our young party, now represented in the National Assembly and in several municipal councils, the hope of a peaceful change in Cameroon.

At the end of its first participation in elections, the CRM, which is not only a force for change but also a force for proposals, has submitted to the Government and ELECAM points that it deems urgent to reform for the credibility of our electoral system. In the interest of the entire nation, these points must be discussed in the framework of a sincere political dialogue. As an illustration, the CRM advocates the establishment of a single ballot in the absence of full biometrics, the reform of the constitution to allow voting at 18 years old, or the ban on the distribution of voter cards by ELECAM on the day of the vote.

The CRM calls on all political forces and all interested citizen organizations to combine efforts to obtain from the government a sincere and constructive dialogue for an effective improvement of our electoral system.

Dear compatriots,

In Cameroon, our dear homeland, the years pass and resemble each other, especially in the economic and social fields. Those in charge of the country’s affairs today may choose to turn a blind eye and refuse to face the facts, but the facts are stubborn. I will limit myself to a few examples:

– National cohesion and republican brotherhood, which are decisive elements in the construction of a peaceful and friendly living together and of a prosperous nation ready to face the challenges that arise, are being undermined by the openly assumed call for tribal hatred of some of our compatriots. Those who do so are misguided because it is only together, united and mobilized, respectful of the rich diversity of our cultures and taking advantage of the best in each of them, that we will build a strong and prosperous Cameroon, powerful and respected in the concert of nations.

– Like last year, 2013 ends without the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the two parts of our country, which took place on October 1st, 1961, that is 52 years ago. An excuse will surely be found for this other missed appointment with the history of our young nation. It is to be feared that it will fuel the understandable frustrations of our brothers in the Anglophone part of the country, and indeed of the entire Cameroonian people, because the Reunification is a turning point in the history of post-colonial Cameroon, and therefore of our national history.

– The economic performance of our country is still below our real capacities, despite the soothing official speeches. According to the latest report from the IMF on the economic prospects of sub-Saharan Africa presented on November 22nd in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s growth rate in 2013 will be only 4.7% against government forecasts of 6.1%, while the average recorded in sub-Saharan Africa will be 5%. We pointed out in 2012 that these mediocre economic performances, with a real growth rate of less than 8% per year, cannot achieve the government’s goal of an “emerging Cameroon by 2035”. We are no longer the only ones saying this now: the IMF, but also other international financial institutions such as the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), share the same opinion. Unless “emerging in 2035” is just an empty slogan, like the one that proclaimed “Health for All in the Year 2000” twenty years ago, which resulted in “Health for no one nowadays.”

– Faced with numerous obstacles and public policies hostile to the private sector, the tentative strategies for economic recovery are unable to trigger the virtuous cycle of sustained and sustainable growth. According to the Doing Business 2014 ranking released on October 29, 2013 by the World Bank Group, Cameroon ranks 168th out of 189 countries evaluated, whereas it was 161st out of 185 in the two previous rankings. There is thus a loss of 7 places which, at the level of Africa, puts our country behind states such as Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, and Burundi.

– Some basic infrastructure is under construction in our country and others are being announced. This is cause for celebration for the economic future of Cameroon. However, as I also said last year, the way these major infrastructure projects were negotiated will not allow Cameroon to benefit from the transfer of know-how related to their implementation, unlike what is observed in all countries seriously committed to the path of economic takeoff. It is unacceptable that with huge sums generated by the sacrifices of the Cameroonian people, our engineers will be unable to build a port, a hydroelectric dam, or a major bridge in the years to come.

Speaking of bridges, what is now called the 2nd bridge over the Wouri River will, once built, be the only real bridge over this river which divides the city of Douala in two and separates the economic capital from three regions of the country. According to the most authoritative voice of the state, the current bridge is at the end of its life and will only serve for the passage of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. This raises the question of what the 13 billion francs swallowed up barely five years ago for the rehabilitation of a bridge that was known to be unusable were used for.

My fellow citizens,

I would like us to meditate together on the life without prospects that the government reserves for the Cameroonian youth. Our young people, undermined by endemic unemployment, have only despair as their horizon. They live on nothing, flood the markets, and invade the streets of our cities in search of a daily subsistence. They try to numb their distress in torrents of alcohol. These young people, who have graduated from our schools and universities, dream only of joining rich Europe. They ruin their lives in the Sahara desert or in the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea. This situation cannot continue without permanently compromising the chances of national recovery and economic growth of the country. That is why the CRM asks the Government of the Republic to make the issue of youth unemployment the absolute priority of Cameroon’s socio-economic policy during the new legislature.

Dear compatriots,

We live in an increasingly dangerous world where no country is immune to insecurity. Therefore, for peace to be sustainable, it must be based on justice within our country so that poverty does not fuel extremism, and on the ability of our valiant national army to ensure the defense of our borders against external threats. However, we must acknowledge that insecurity is no longer confined to our major cities or to a few specific regions of the country. It hits hard at our borders, particularly in the regions of the Far North and East. The security of the country and its people is seriously threatened by radicalized foreign armed groups connected to an international network of terror. Faced with this major new challenge, the national army must regain its rightful place through the means allocated to it, its pride through the position reserved for it, and the indispensable trust to carry out its high and noble mission of defending the national territory.

The ambitious and demanding societal project proposed to the Cameroonian people by the CRM calls for the mobilization of all talents and energies to achieve peaceful political change as well as the transformative work of our country. That is why, at the CRM, we place special emphasis on the role of our diaspora. To these compatriots abroad, I want to reiterate: national rebirth will not happen without you. Many of you, in various academic, scientific, technical, artistic, literary, political, journalistic, entrepreneurial, and other fields, proudly carry the banner of Cameroon; you make our country and all our people proud.

Some of you have acquired foreign nationality for various reasons. But I know that the profound love for this land of Cameroon remains buried in your hearts. For the CRM, through the invisible thread that connects each of you to our rivers and lakes, forests and savannas, plains and mountains, you will never cease to be Cameroonians, wherever you are.

My dear compatriots,

The time has come for me to extend my wishes to you for the coming year. By wishing good luck to our Indomitable Lions for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year. May it bring better health and work to those who do not have it, and full success to those who do, as well as to the many students who are preparing to take over the management of the affairs of our beloved and beautiful country tomorrow.

Long live Cameroon!
Maurice KAMTO, National President of the CRM
Yaoundé, December 28, 2013