Jul 2022

Within the framework of the official visit of the President of the French Republic to Cameroon from 25-27 July 2022, the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon published a document entitled “Press Kit”. It is therefore a communication tool for the media which should, if not complete on the issues addressed, have fulfilled the essential criterion of factual accuracy, hence credibility. Otherwise, it is no more and no less than a propaganda tool based on the manipulation of facts.

Thus, on page 11 of this dossier, the paragraph devoted to Political Freedoms places Cameroon among the ‘great liberal democracies’, where public freedoms are governed notably by the Constitution and laws on freedom of association. With regard to public demonstrations in particular, the famous press kit states:

” The   peaceful  democracy  championed  by the President of the Republic,  His Excellency Paul  BIYA, is  frequently  challenged  by attempts by  some  socio-political actors   to defy  existing  civil liberties laws, particularly those governing public demonstrations. In this regard, since 2018, when the last presidential election was held,  insurrectional or regionalist demonstrations have been held in public spaces led by political party militants with extremist ideologies. Given Cameroon’s sociological and  cultural diversity, such incidents can jeopardize the country’s unity. This constant violation  of the  regulatory framework   governing civil liberties  is likely to  undermine  the   country’s  cohesion and stability, which are dear  to the Head  of State.”

The use of the plural to designate political parties allegedly ‘with extremist ideology’, which this kit considers to be, ‘since 2018’, the authors of ‘demonstrations of an insurrectional and/or regionalist nature’ is far too light a varnish to deceive anyone: it is the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) that is targeted. For the record, our party cannot remain silent in the face of this tissue of lies propagated in a style that hardly conceals the hatred the regime has for it.

The Cameroon of today is as far removed from liberal democracy as prestidigitation is from reality, with the regime in power as the seller of the democratic illusion. If the freedom to demonstrate is a constitutionally enshrined right, its effective exercise is rendered simply illusory by a political regime that is intrinsically alien to the very idea of freedom and that autocratically controls the entire state apparatus and the spaces for civic expression. Worse, honest citizens participating in October 2018, January and June 2019, September 2020 in peaceful demonstrations organised by the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) to demand an end to the war in the North-West and South-West regions and an inclusive national dialogue to resolve the crisis, consensual reform of the electoral system, transparency in the management of public funds allocated to the preparation of the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, were arrested by the hundreds, tortured and placed in detention.

After iniquitous trials, in the absence of most of the accused before military courts placed under the direct political and hierarchical authority of the Presidency of the Republic, many of these political prisoners of the regime were sentenced to up to seven years in prison under pretexts as fallacious as they are ridiculous. One of our militants detained in the New Bell prison in Douala died in June 2022. At the same time, the militants of the ruling party not only have the leisure to demonstrate without prior declaration, but also the privilege of destroying, occasionally and with total impunity, public property! Such is the ‘peaceful democracy’ promoted by the current regime, namely a well-oiled political purification machine in which participates, in an orchestration worthy of autocratic systems of another era, a repressive apparatus of unimaginable ferocity.

Since its creation in 2012, the CRM has been systematically ostracised and repressed by the politico-administrative and security apparatus of the State, even though it has opted for peaceful change through the ballot box in our country and has never abandoned this option. The October 2018 presidential election and its aftermath mark only one season, albeit an important one, in the regime’s long-term endeavor to prevent the emergence of a credible alternative political force in Cameroon.  In this ongoing enterprise, no weapon is neglected: sometimes the CRM is treated as a ‘small party’; sometimes as a ‘regionalist party’ but systematically banned from demonstrating throughout the country, especially in parts of the country considered to be the ‘granite base’ of the ruling party; sometimes as an insurrectionary party wanting to overthrow the regime by force, but without arms, while its peaceful and pacifist demonstrators have only their Manual of the Peaceful Walker and their faith in the possibility of a better future for all Cameroonians.

Despite these multi-faceted efforts at destabilisation funded by state resources, the CRM won the battle of ideas in Cameroon and its candidate was robbed of his clear victory in the October 2018 presidential election. Since then, and more than ever before, the CRM has been in the sights of the clans vying for the succession.

The famous press kit shows to what extent certain people within the regime in in power in Cameroon are psycho-rigid, unable to consider relations with those who think differently other than from the angle of contempt, hatred, terror and exclusion. Locked in an obsidional logic, they refuse any openness, the construction of peaceful, fraternal relationships. One wonders how they intend to pull the country out of the abyss into which they have plunged it if they are so unfit for dialogue, to build bridges, to conceive of a political evolution that will enable our country to succeed in a peaceful alternance/transition for the happiness of our people.

Done in Yaoundé on July 24, 2022
The National President
Maurice KAMTO