Dec 2023

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps or their representatives Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the invited political parties,

Ladies and Gentlemen, leaders of civil society organizations, Distinguished guests in your respective titles and ranks,

Dear Delegates to the Convention of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement,

It is an honor for me to speak to you in this particular political context for myself, and the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), but also, I believe, for Cameroon.

First of all, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the honor you have done us by accepting our invitation to this 3rd Ordinary Convention of our party. It is a mark of civility, and perhaps even a token of esteem to which we are very sensitive. On behalf of our delegates and all CRM militants, I would like to express our sincere gratitude.

On 15 April 2018, in similar circumstances, and for the first time both for myself and for our party, I closed in this same ceremonial hall of the Palais des Congrès and with the same militant fervor as today, the second Ordinary Convention of the CRM, which had just renewed its confidence in me as National President. I am grateful to all the delegates present who once again voted in favor of the list that I led for the election of the National President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary General and National Treasurer of our party. I thank them warmly on my own behalf and on behalf of the other members elected on this list.

Dear comrades and political friends, I am fully aware of the weight of your renewed confidence and the extent of your expectations for the ever more effective management of our party, in attentive listening to our militants and openness to other political parties whose vision converges with that of the CRM, as well as to all Cameroonians of good will.

I can assure you here and now that we will redouble our efforts to live up to the expectations and challenges facing our party today or tomorrow. In doing so, we will pursue the formidable momentum which, since our last Convention, under the impetus of the party’s Executive Board and thanks to the admirable commitment of the various leaders of the party’s grassroots bodies, as well as numerous militants and sympathizers, has made the CRM a solid, structured political force, covering the entire national territory and a force to be reckoned with on the Cameroonian political scene.

Indeed, since the election in 2018 of the party’s current national leadership, which I have the honor of leading, the CRM has displayed a commendable record on all fronts. Yesterday, the various Statutory Committees of this Convention presented to the Delegates the administrative report, the financial report, as well as the report on solidarity and support for our party’s political hostages. It remains for me to present a general policy report on the CRM’s progress since the last Convention, and our party’s vision for the future.

Dear Comrades and Political Friends, by electing me to lead our party in 2018, you made me the CRM candidate for the presidential election of 07 October 2018. Our participation in this memorable election paved the way for an exceptional political adventure that ended, as you know, in an electoral Hold Up. Yes, the CPDM candidate had indeed been defeated at the polls on 07 October 2018, but was officially declared the winner with a fanciful score of 71.28% against 14.23% for your candidate, and an unusual turnout of 100.48%! The CRM, the People of Change and Cameroonians in general have been robbed of a historic victory.

We had won those elections, despite the mourners and skeptics that our opponents had stirred up and nurtured within a certain opinion. History will reveal this to even the most incredulous. We have tried by all peaceful and legal means to bring the truth to light for Cameroonians and the world: we have asked for the votes to be recounted, in vain; we have confronted our opponent’s representatives before the Constitutional Council, who produced 32 doctored and unsigned PVs, demonstrating factually the falsity of these documents, which were fabricated in a hurry for the needs of the cause; we have submitted a communication on this subject to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, so that it can establish who was right and who was wrong. The ruling power, which lost the elections but retains by force the representation of the State of Cameroon, has done everything to block this procedure since 2018, including using our compatriots serving in the human rights institutions of the African Union. We know who they are.

They may only hide the truth for a while, but the truth will always come out. Whether those who thus usurped power in this way through an electoral hold-up continue to enjoy it for the current seven-year term is no longer our concern; they will have succeeded in stealing a seven-year term from the Cameroonian people, a seven-year term which they have wasted and during which they have shown even their most unconditional supporters, in Cameroon and abroad, that they have no project for this country and no love for the Cameroonian people. They want to perpetuate this political theft in future elections. It is up to the Cameroonian people, and them alone, to decide whether they want this national disaster to continue, or whether they want to open a new page in their history, inaugurate a new era with men and women from all walks of life in the country, bearers of values and an ambitious project for accelerated development, shared progress and international influence.

Since the launch in November 2018 of the National Resistance following the electoral hold-up, our militants and our party have suffered and are still suffering martyrdom. We have been spared nothing: arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, serious gunshot wounds, and so on. Because of their unprecedented scale in independent Cameroon, their seriousness due to their unprecedented violence, and their hateful nature, the crimes perpetrated against our peaceful militants demonstrating with their bare hands fall into the category of crimes against humanity. In addition to these serious violations of the fundamental rights of our militants, our party has also been the target of vexations: administrative ostracism in the form of bans on our public demonstrations or the multiplication of obstacles to the deployment of CRM activities in the field, including the prohibition in certain localities of the organization of internal elections for the renewal of the basic organs of our party, even if duly declared ; judicial violence through ambush trials in the absence of our detained comrades, when they had simply not been extracted from the prisons, fabrication of false judicial documents to accuse them, systematic violation of the law or refusal to apply it, when the magistrate is obliged to judge according to the law and his conscience, but first according to the law; systematically imposing heavy fines on CRM political prisoners who have already been convicted, and unjustified or unfair prison sentences; freezing our party’s bank account since 2020, the list goes on.

In its Opinion of 04 November 2022, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that the arrests of hundreds of our comrades during the violent stalking operations of 26 January, 1st and 10 June 2019, 18 to 22 September 2020, and 21 October 2020 are arbitrary; and therefore that the detentions and trial of the PACIFIC MARCHERS are illegal.

Consequently, it recommended to the State of Cameroon their immediate release and compensation. Despite this unambiguous opinion, the terms of which are final, our comrades, who have become political hostages of the regime, remain in prison. The CRM once again solemnly demands their immediate and unconditional release.

To the orphans, widow and family of Rodrigue NDAGUEHO KOUFET, who died as a result of medical negligence while in illegal detention at New Bell prison in Douala, I reiterate our deepest sympathy and the CRM’s commitment to one day honor his memory and that of the other martyrs of our struggle. To Mr. Pascal ZAMBOUE, kidnapped in October 2020 and still illegally detained at the Kodengui central prison in Yaoundé, to the orphans of Suzanne ZAMBOUE, murdered at the family home in 2023, and whose curious turn in the investigations into her death, in particular the arrest and the pre-trial detention of her son in conditions denounced by the family’s lawyers, raises fears that she may have been eliminated for political reasons, I renew the party’s heartfelt condolences and our commitment to stand by their side in the inhuman ordeal they are enduring.

To our other comrades still detained and those who have been released, some of whom bear the lifelong consequences of the torture to which they were subjected, to our militants and sympathizers whose lives have been turned upside down by the destruction of their economic activities and sometimes even their conjugal lives because of their commitment to the CRM, and to their various families, I wish them courage and faith in the future. I can assure them that their sacrifice will not be in vain.

I extend our sincere thanks to all the Cameroonians, all the political parties and civil society organizations who were our allies in 2018 and to all the others, in Cameroon and in the diaspora, who have given us their support at one time or another.

In 2020, our party decided not to take part in the legislative and municipal elections, for reasons we have explained at length. Some of our militants, both national executives and leaders of the party’s grassroots bodies, may have misunderstood this decision, or not accepted it. This led to a number of resignations, some of whom went on to set up their own political parties. We understand that personal ambitions may have been thwarted by the boycott. But as we have said on several occasions, personal ambitions cannot be placed above the interests of the party, let alone the Cameroonian nation.

Some leaders of the party’s grassroots bodies withdrew from party activities for a while, before remobilizing. But I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of our militants fully understood and supported the decision to boycott these famous elections, which the regime had turned into a huge political trap that would close in on our party forever. For almost four years now, I can’t tell you how many testimonies I have received from our militants, and even from sympathizers, telling me that our boycott was a wise decision, and that it saved our party from destruction. The massive presence at this Convention of delegates who are leaders in the party’s grassroots bodies, and of whom those present here represent only a fraction of the statutory delegates, is eloquent testimony to the unwavering support of the CRM’s militant base and cadres at all levels for this historic decision to boycott. This decision was taken, believe me, with a heavy heart, at a time when our party was enjoying great empathy from most Cameroonians, following the unfair and cynical incarceration of its main leaders in 2019.

The attitude of the ruling party and its allies on all sides, who for the past four years have been virulently criticizing our decision to boycott the 2020 elections, and trying to construct what they call our inconsistency, confirm beyond doubt that these elections, called in haste on the evening of our memorable visit to the site of the Ngouache tragedy in Bafoussam, were a political trap for the CRM. How else can you explain the fact that it is this party and its allies who are complaining the most about this boycott, when we gave them the opportunity to win all the seats up for grabs?

We know today that the 2020 coupled elections were conceived by our opponents as a kind of second round of the 2018 presidential election, from which they had robbed us of victory; their objective was to do everything possible to humiliate us electorally in order to show that we couldn’t possibly have won the presidential ballot.

My dear friends, our party has emerged morally and politically victorious from this 2020 boycott.

Firstly, we have shown our compatriots in the English-speaking regions in particular, and all Cameroonians in general, that we are the only political force in the country that has chosen to pay the highest political price so that a peaceful solution, built by an inclusive dialogue, can be found to the crisis ravaging these two regions. And, I can tell you that this political message has been well heard, judging by the impressive number of new members joining the CRM between 2020 and 2023.

Secondly, voters massively followed our boycott slogan. Indeed, according to the reports of national and international observers of this coupled 2020 election, the non-participation rate was between 75 and 80% of an electorate, which is already very low. Without taking part in these elections, our party thus demonstrated the solidity of its roots in our sovereign people.

Finally, it became clear in retrospect that our boycott of the 2020 electoral masquerade had preserved the unity of our party, threatened by the conditions under which the electoral lists were formed. Indeed, the opening up to what were then called members of civil society and independent personalities had cleared the way for political opportunists with no conviction or loyalty to our party. Therefore, they left as they came.

I have said and I solemnly repeat from this podium: the CRM will take part in all future elections, including legislative and municipal ones, as well as the presidential one, in 2025 or before. Our party would take part even if they were called for tomorrow. I cannot do anything for those who are bothered by this. Let them not waste their time lying to Cameroonians that we will not be able to take part in the presidential election because we boycotted the 2020 elections. I say and I repeat, we will take part in the presidential election even if it were called for tomorrow.

So my dear Friends, my dear compatriots, don’t listen to them, because they want to discourage you from registering en masse on the electoral lists. They do not want you to go out and vote to liberate our country and set in motion the glorious train of the Renaissance. Tell them that they won’t fool you any longer with their lies; that change will come through each and every one of you, in peace and through the ballot box.

Caution! Let’s not make the mistake of focusing our attention and energy solely on the forthcoming presidential election. We must take the elections one by one, as they come. According to the normal electoral calendar, the double legislative and municipal ballot should be held at the very beginning of 2025, and in principle, the convocation of the electorate for this ballot should take place at the end of 2024. This double ballot is crucial. We need to be ready to win as many communes and parliamentary seats as possible, as this will be the first step in the dynamic that will lead us to conquer the presidency of the Republic ten months later.

In my 2022 end-of-year message, I alerted public opinion to the serious fact that ELECAM is distorting the electoral game to the benefit of the regime in power, even before election day, by stagnating the electorate since 2012, both through its inaction, and in some cases by refusing to register certain Cameroonian citizens on the electoral lists, particularly in the diaspora.

Since we first exposed this scandal, with figures to back it up, ELECAM has never provided a denial or the slightest attempt at explanation. ELECAM is an instrument for preserving power and not a regulator of the electoral game.

But what will have been the point of the seven-year term he helped to bring about, which will soon be coming to an end? Only to plunge Cameroonians further into disenchantment and despair. Look at how aggressive people have become in our country, how they’ve lost their self-esteem, how our young people dream only of leaving at any price, how they have to sell their souls to get a job or a career prospect. A country with no moral standards, no respect for anything, where people are jealous of others who are trying to survive instead of asking themselves why they can’t manage; a country where we nervously declare that we don’t do politics because we want to see our children grow up, and because we are afraid to look things in the face and see that it is bad politics that are the cause of our misfortunes. But it is precisely by engaging in politics that we can change things.

The country is falling apart under a colossal debt, and the famous slogan “EMERGENCE in 2035” is definitely a mirage. In many parts of the country, many women continue to lose their lives while giving birth, and in all regions the infrastructure, especially roads, are in a poor condition. So what has been the point of this stolen seven-year term, if not to sow more tribal hatred, more division between Cameroonians, to set them against each other for the pleasure of a power believed to have been acquired for eternity?

What has been the point of this seven-year term of all abuses, if not to drive a country without a compass deeper into the reign of anarchy and pleasure, where each leader carves out his own fiefdom to manage as he pleases; if not to multiply scandals and heinous crimes with arrogance and total impunity, with contempt for those who, shocked, try to ask for an explanation. These are Cameroon’s new plagues: CANGATE, COVIDGATE, GLENCOREGATE, LINES 94 and 65 GATE, YAOUNDE-DOUALA HIGHWAY GATE, SAVANNAH GATE, NACHTCHIGAL HYDRO-POWER GATE, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY GATE, EMOLUMENTS AND FALSE WITNESS TAXES GATE, JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS ON MONSTROUS ASSASSINATIONS GATE, KRIBI-EBOLOWA VIA AKOM II GATE, and I am probably forgetting some.

At one time or another, we have all been struck by the violence of the attacks against living together in our nation, the tearing apart of the social fabric by galloping abject poverty, the collapse of parts of our economy, and the decline in our influence in Africa, starting with Central Africa. And at one point or another, we said to ourselves, we have to stop this endless descent into hell. Therefore, it is high time to organize ourselves to act together.

Only a political changeover can allow our people to regain their dignity, get back on their feet and finally meet the multiple challenges that have been piling up in front of them for at least 41 years. Only a political changeover can restore the smile and lost pride of our people, through an effective and adequate response to their pressing problems, which today include : insecurity, lack of jobs, economic lethargy, lack of access to health care for the majority of the population, perversion of the justice system, inadequacy of the current educational model, lack of infrastructure, lack of energy, lack of national cohesion and tribal perversion of citizenship, irrational public governance, poor treatment of teachers, high living costs, and the tracking down of the Cameroonian diaspora, which the regime stigmatizes as an enemy of the country.

Aware of the urgent need to address these issues, and of the imperative to avoid a repeat of the electoral hold-up, particularly in the next presidential election, I humbly appeal to all political parties, trade unions, civil society organizations and opinion leaders sincerely committed to the struggle to restore the dignity of our people and the sovereignty of our country, to work together to recreate the conditions that brought about the Union for Change in 1992.

In 1992, I supported the Union for Change (Union pour le Changement) without any bargaining or expectation of a compensation, because the country was already showing clear signs of the excesses that have led it to the current impasse. Some of the major players in this historic coalition are still alive and can bear witness to this. Unfortunately, despite the victory of the Union candidate at the ballot box, the cause of Change was betrayed, and the official victory was awarded to the same candidate as in 2018.

At the CRM, we are totally open and available to discuss with each of the forces for progress in our country, the modalities for the relaunch of this new union for change that we propose to call: POLITICAL ALLIANCE FOR CHANGE, abbreviated “PAC”. Such an Alliance has already begun to take shape with the well-named Force de Changement du Cameroun (FCC), which I warmly salute for his courage and the clarity of his political positioning.

In view of the general situation in our country, and above all the issues at stake, there should be no room for egos, grudges or petty political revenge among those of us who claim to be fighting for the happiness of the Cameroonian people. The platform set up to develop proposals for a consensual and participatory modification of the Electoral Code has shown that political parties with different trajectories can agree on the essentials, work together in mutual respect and produce remarkable results. These political parties, namely the Cameroon Democratic Union, CPRN, SDF, United Socialist Democratic Party, Progressist Movement and CRM, could, in my view, form the basis of this Political Alliance for Change, together with the FCC, civil society organizations and prominent personalities.

Moreover, the NUDP, the progressive UPC should join the Political Alliance for Change, along with other political parties, organizations and personalities outraged by the moral collapse of Cameroonian society and the systemic incompetence of the so-called Renewal regime. They will all have their place there.

Beyond those who are openly engaged in the struggle for political changeover in our country, the POLITICAL ALLIANCE FOR CHANGE will work with our compatriots from all walks of life, including militants and supporters of the current regime who share its vision of a peaceful Cameroon, united and striving towards the common ideal of justice and equity, shared prosperity and international influence. I urge them not to stand on the sidelines of the powerful popular and republican dynamic driven by the sole interest of our people and our country.

The obvious failure of the current government is no reason to doubt the patriotism of all our compatriots who have served or are still serving the State. Among them are men and women of great value and proven republican spirit, whose zeal to serve the well-being of our people is often stifled by the logic of the leadership of the current system of government. I invite these compatriots to leave the nostalgic one-party supporters of this dislocated regime with their pipe dreams of perpetual power, hereditary succession or free will at the top of the State, and to join the PAC now. Cameroon is our common heritage. It must be a reconciled and united nation. No one will be left behind in the collective effort to turn it around. We must work with all our might, each with his or her talents, to lift our country up and bring our fellow citizens the dividends they have a legitimate right to expect from their country’s independence. This is what our national heroes died for.

I emphasize that the POLITICAL ALLIANCE FOR CHANGE must be conceived and articulated to govern the country from the day after the proclamation of its victory, in order to respond without delay to the country’s many expectations. It must enable Cameroon to make a qualitative leap in its development, and contribute actively to the construction of the new Africa. With this in mind, Cameroon, sovereign master of its own destiny, will maintain friendly and trusting relations with its traditional partners and all other nations and international institutions of goodwill.

Reconciling our Nation involves – I would even say begins with – repatriating the mortal remains of Ahmadou AHIDJO, the first President of independent Cameroon, and his wife Germaine AHIDJO. They must rest in peace in their native land. And Ahmadou AHIDJO must receive an official funeral, not because he was irreproachable, but because he was above all a remarkable builder. This is a historical necessity, a republican duty and, for us Africans, a cultural and even spiritual imperative.

Since 2017, our country has sunk into a disastrous civil war in the North-West and South-West Regions, due to the incompetence of those in power to manage politically a conflict that is fundamentally political in nature. Since then, Cameroon has moved forward with a thorn in its side. In seven years, the civil war has already claimed thousands of lives among the defense and security forces, their compatriots who have taken up arms, and the trapped civilian population. It has caused millions of internally displaced persons and exiles, rendered the economy of these Regions bloodless, strained State finances and profoundly altered the unity of the Cameroonian nation. This is the result of an arrogant style of government, characteristic of the current regime. For there was absolutely no justification for the bloody repression of peaceful demonstrations by students, teachers and lawyers in the two English-speaking regions, apart from an overt political desire to terrorize citizens exercising their civil and political rights. Our valiant defense and security forces were used to settle political claims through arms, claims that can only be resolved sustainably through inclusive and sincere political dialogue.

Indeed, there is a lasting political solution to the war that is ravaging the two English-speaking regions and seriously hampering the Cameroonian nation’s development plans and ambitions to become one of the leading powers in the Africa of tomorrow: the establishment of a federal state in our country. The CRM has come out clearly in favor of federalism, which will enable the federated states, in particular, to enjoy broad autonomy in the management of their affairs, to preserve the cultural specificity claimed by our compatriots in the English-speaking regions, and to accelerate the country’s overall development by increasing efficiency in the choice and implementation of development programs by the federated components of the state. But let us be clear: secession – or separation – is not an option; it is off the table. For the rest, we can discuss all the issues among ourselves as Cameroonians and find the appropriate solution to our problems.

We have consistently put forward concrete proposals for a political solution to this armed conflict. We persist, despite the fact that the regime has preferred to listen to those who have so far irresponsibly led it to war and violence of all kinds. Let us never forget that, far from the small screen where all the theories justifying state violence are displayed, there are deaths and the unspeakable suffering of the people.

I make it my business to convince PAC members, present and future, of the urgent need for our country to put a rapid end to this absurd fratricidal civil war that we have no need of, by holding, within a fairly short timeframe, an inclusive political dialogue that will create the conditions for the expression of all the sensitivities of our brothers and sisters in the English-speaking regions within the framework of our beloved homeland, Cameroon.

I hereby declare to our brothers and sisters who are confronting their brothers and sisters of the National Defense and Security Forces with weapons in hand, that if we come to power, we will not play tricks with them. I assure them of our patriotic good faith, so that together with them, we can finally find a definitive solution to the problems posed, within the framework of a Cameroon that wants to be the cradle of all its children and all our ancestors.

Those with an easy triumph will be singing at the top of their voices that the armed secessionist groups have been defeated, that all we have to do is let them slowly disappear. It would be a serious mistake to reason in this way, for a conflict such as the one between the insurgents in the English- speaking regions and the central government is never won on the battlefield, but around a fraternal table. To choose the illusion of an armed victory is to choose to pass on this conflict to future generations, as it will inevitably resurface.

This is why I appeal to the conscience of the leaders of our Defense and Security Forces to support this approach towards a political solution to the conflict. This would be a patriotic attitude on the part of the great Cameroonian Army. The National Defense and Security Forces will always be stronger than any non-state armed group, today and tomorrow. Too much blood has been shed in this war. We must join forces to finally give peace a real chance.

Dear Delegates of the CRM, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have proposed the formation of a POLITICAL ALLIANCE FOR CHANGE to ensure a democratic political alternation in Cameroon in 2025 or before. The 3rd Ordinary Convention of the CRM reappointed me as leader of our party, making me our party’s candidate for the next presidential election. I have heard the appeal made long before this Convention was held, and again today by major forces on the Cameroonian political scene, for a new dynamic to be built around the CRM candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.

I have the honour of announcing here that I accept the historic mission of being the torch-bearer of the POLITICAL ALLIANCE FOR CHANGE, which is now on the march. I am very grateful and proud to be the candidate of this ALLIANCE for the presidential election of 2025 or before. Candidate of Consensus, Truth, Peace, Justice and Reconciliation in the English-speaking Regions of the North-West and South-West and within the nation as a whole.

I accept this exceptional responsibility, in the continuation of my constant dedication to the service of our homeland, and with an acute awareness of the unprecedented responsibilities it entails. I can assure those who are already part of the new dynamic, as well as those who I hope will soon join it, that this is a collective historic responsibility. Together, let us restore hope to the Cameroonian people that another future is possible, a future free of impunity and where accountability is an imperative, a future of accelerated development and shared prosperity in which Cameroon will finally be governed. For my part, I reiterate the commitment I have made on various occasions to the Cameroonian people: I will never betray you!

Long live the Cameroon Renaissance Movement,

Long live the Political Alliance for Change,

Long live Cameroon.

President Maurice KAMTO.

Yaounde – Cameroon Convention Center

December 10, 2023