May 2020

My dear compatriots,

It is in sadness and desolation that our country is marking its National Day, this 20th May 2020, riddled as it is with violent convulsions.

The current government continues to impose on the brave populations of the North-West and South-West this violent, barbaric and useless civil war, which they single-handedly started following the protest movements of November 2016, and whose tragic consequences are deplorable in many respects.

Evidence of the damage is overwhelming: the multiplication of massacres of innocent civilian populations, one of the most recent and emblematic of which was perpetrated in Ngarbuh on 14th February by the army, the collection of civilian and military victims of this war; the tragedy of thousands of our fellow refugees in Nigeria and the plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people;

the burning of homes, the destruction of infrastructure and the socio-economic disaster generated by this war.

And all this happens under the indifferent watch of an arrogant and contemptuous power. I would like to take this opportunity to once again honour the memory of all the victims of this atrocious war, and to reiterate my sincere condolences to their families, as well as my best wishes for speedy recovery to the injured. It is high time that lasting solutions were brought to this unsustainable situation.

My dear compatriots,

The National Day is a time of communion and celebration. The Cameroonian people witnessed, somewhat with dismay, the government cacophony which surrounded the decision to cancel the ceremonies linked to 20th May this year. While a press release from the Minister of Defence announced the organisation and theme of the festivities, the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, the next day, signed another press release cancelling the said celebration, for the sake of respecting social distancing measures as part of the fight against COVID-19.

And as usual, each of the two press releases was prepared, we were told, on Mr Paul BIYA’s prescription.

The National Day is also an opportunity for individual and collective introspection on the meaning of our living together and national unity, beyond the official slogans which, in the face of daily realities, sound hollower than ever.

Is it possible to mention national unity in a context like the one I have just recalled in the North-West and South-West Regions where, moreover, citizens are brutalised, abused and thrown in prison for peacefully expressing their disagreement on the progress of the country?

Can we speak of national unity when leaders shamelessly instrumentalise ethnic hatred in order to retain power, which has been acquired by fraud? What becomes of national unity in a country riddled with multiple political, social and economic fractures created and maintained by the very people whose role should have been to bring Cameroonians together and unite them?

Ethnic hatred, particularly, is now dominant in the words of many personalities who claim to act or speak on behalf of the State, as well as those who, in terms of their trajectory, should have been the enlightening thinkers of our society. State tribalism is now trivialised and exhibited. It appears both through speeches and through various acts, to the point where international reports openly denounce it.

Beyond its commemorative, even festive aspect, the National Day must be understood as a moment of questioning of our individual and collective conscience on the meaning that we give to our status as a citizen and on our national ambition. Make no mistake, nobody will come to change or develop Cameroon in place of Cameroonians. Our destiny depends on us and on us alone. No friendly power, however generous, can love our country more than us.

My dear compatriots,

The national day of our country comes this year in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Cameroon is ranked to date among the African countries most affected by this virus, with (controversial) official figures totalling 3,105 tested positive, 1,567 recoveries and 140 deaths, not counting those of our compatriots who died abroad.

I bow to the memory of all these people, brutally torn from the affection of their loved ones and of the Nation, and often buried in unsustainable conditions and, which is more, when we take into account the fact that they are members of a communities whose practice is to honour their dead. I wish a very speedy recovery to all the patients and asymptomatic carriers of this deadly virus.

To our health personnel, the medical and paramedical staff, I pay a vibrant tribute to their dedication, their courage, and the sacrifice made on a daily basis, in order to provide care, aid and assistance to the sick, sometimes risking their lives. You are brave soldiers, sent to the front with little means.

I also note with thanks all those, from near or far, Cameroonians of all stripes, associations, opinion leaders, religious and external partners, who are mobilising to help our country deal with this terrible pandemic.

Noting that the public authorities had not been proactive in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, despite my various previous proposals and warnings, I launched in my capacity as a Cameroonian citizen, an initiative called Survie-Cameroon-Survival Initiative (thereafter SCSI).

This popular non-partisan initiative is not, no matter what the Government says, an association – even if it does not exclude becoming one in the future. Its purpose is solely humanitarian, namely, to provide additional urgent aid to the Cameroonian people at risk in the face of the serious threat of COVID-19. Its Management Committee is chaired by Mr Christian PENDA EKOKA, whose integrity is known to all.

I thank again the Cameroonian and foreign personalities who have accepted with good grace to bring their precious sponsorship to this Citizen Initiative. SCSI does not want a confrontation with the public authorities.

It does not intend to supersede the action of the Government in the fight against COVID-19, how could it do so! It only wants to bring its citizen contribution to a health war which calls upon the whole nation, and which should be an opportunity for the nation-wide mobilization, of unity of Cameroonians without exception. It will therefore continue without a blow.

SCSI has successfully mobilised exceptional Cameroonians from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from within and from the diaspora, who have freely agreed to come to help other Cameroonians at risk. I would like to thank and warmly congratulate all of these many compatriots whose generosity made it possible to give shape to this process of public salvation. I also congratulate the entire SCSI team – starting with it Manager – which spares no effort to ensure the daily execution of this project.

Against all expectations, SCSI undergoes savage and repeated assaults from the regime, for reasons that it will one day give to the Cameroonian people, I hope so. SCSI’s actions are indeed criminalised by the power which prevents populations from receiving free barrier masks and hydroalcoholic solutions that this power does not manage to offer them.

As you have seen, six (6) humanitarian volunteers from SCSI were arrested and detained for several days at the Mokolo police station in Yaoundé on the grounds that they were distributing aid to the populations, while Mr. Christian PENDA EKOKA and Mr. Alain FOGUE, the CRM National Treasurer, were summoned, and for this last, interrogated by the Director of the Judicial Police.

He was charged with such fanciful charges as the suspicion of money laundering, the swindle of the Cameroonian people, the financing of the resistance to the institutions of the Republic.

As usual, the illegitimate regime, blinded by hatred and overwhelmed by the management of daily life, continues to instrumentalise the State apparatus against me and people close to me, including when they carry out national salvation actions, as in the present case. This regime pushes the nonsense and the absurd to the point of refusing donations that the Cameroonian citizen that I am, offered to the Government through SCSI to protect health professionals in the face of this pandemic, and to help in the detection of COVID-19.

It must be remembered that the time is not for demagogy, but rather for the pooling of all wills and energies in this battle in which our country is badly engaged.

You just need to see the contradictory and catastrophic decisions of the Cameroonian authorities to be convinced of the inadequacies of the government approach. While we are told that the person who assumes the functions of Head of State has cancelled the celebration of the National Day for the sake of respecting the essential barrier measures for protection against COVOD-19, the Prime Minister orders the opening of drinking places and other places of entertainment beyond 6 p.m. The Minister of Health meanwhile calls on Cameroonians to stay at home. While the Minister of Territorial Administration is overstepping all normal bounds.

All this hardly hides the absence of leadership at the head of our country. And the nagging question comes back: Who is running Cameroon today? Where is Mr Paul Biya hiding, he who nevertheless granted himself the function of President of the Republic, in contempt of the polls after the 7th October 2018 presidential election?

The country is orphan of a President, who abandoned it in the midst of a health crisis, in a context where all world leaders, even physically weakened, have taken personal responsibility for the response to COVID-19 in their countries.

The episode of the so-called video of 16th April 2020 that occurred just after the filing of the request submitted on 11th April 2020 to the President of the National Assembly for the purpose of referring to the Constitutional Council has not produced the expected political effects. The other audience on 13th May did not have a better result either. Indeed, Cameroonians continue to wonder where Mr Paul BIYA has gone.

Those who want to lead Cameroon through mutual agreement succession and their supporters try to explain that it is normal for a President of the Republic to disappear for months, leaving his people grappling with a pandemic that is sowing the death. And for these defenders of the absurd, interrupting this desertion for a few minutes to receive foreign personalities, assuming this to be true, is not a sign of contempt for the Cameroonian people, even though the Prime Minister, Head of Government has no access to him.

My dear compatriots,

You will agree with me that the unity of our people and our nation is at risk in this context of uncertainty and turbulence. Even the Government does not show cohesion, not even in appearance, as it is riddled with divisions which the war for the succession at the top of the State creates between its members.

The war against Boko Haram is one of our major concerns, with the resurgence of attacks on our soil after the period of relative calm observed notably thanks to the support of the international community, which I would like to thank once again. I renew my deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this other war and my best wishes for the speedy recovery of the injured, and a quick return to a peaceful life in the affected areas.

The civil war in the NOSO and the post-electoral crisis persist, while lasting solutions exist. The CRM has never stopped making constructive proposals. Despite the government’s indifference, our party continues to do so. In this spirit, I propose a framework for resolving the crisis in NOSO and the post-electoral crisis comprising a High Level Committee assisted by a Technical Sub-Committee:

-The High Level Committee is a political Committee responsible for mediation and chaired by a sitting or former African President, assisted by the Panel of the Wise of the African Union.

The Committee should, after consulting the Cameroonian Government and all the main protagonists, including those in detention, work for the establishment of mechanisms aimed at immediately stopping the violence and its resurgence.

These mechanisms should benefit from the support of the international community, at political, technical and financial levels. I am already calling for a ceasefire, even a temporary one, to be agreed upon without delay between the protagonists of the armed conflict with the assistance of the United Nations and the AU.

Such an act will show the greatness of all the belligerent parties; it is a vital act, because it will alleviate the suffering of our poor populations, create the conditions for the establishment of the framework for discussions and, in the current context of Covid-19, to bring adequate help to the populations of the two Regions where the pandemic is on the rise.

At the same time as the cease-fire, the release of all prisoners incarcerated in the context of the Anglophone crisis and post-electoral crisis is essential, including SISUKU AYUK TABE and his supporters, and the 15 prisoners of conscience, CRM militants, including the First Vice-President of our party, Mr Mamadou YACOUBA “MOTA”.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate to these CRM comrades still incarcerated my fraternal and patriotic greetings, and all my encouragement for the bravery and the dignity which they have been showing. We continue to use all possible means for their release.

– The Technical Sub-Committee is a Support organ responsible for drawing up the main draft texts to be submitted for discussion and approval by the Political Committee, including a draft amendment to the Constitution or a new constitution and a draft amendment to the Electoral Code.

This Technical Support Committee could be composed of: representatives of political parties present in the political field for at least the last five years and which have achieved the best electoral performance during this period, Elecam, NGOs with proven experience in the conflict resolution, the defence of human rights and the strengthening of democratic capacities.

More generally, and in the context of the fight against COVID-19, it is just as urgent to release a greater number of detainees from our prisons, the presence of this virus in penitentiaries in the country having now been proven.

My dear compatriots,

In this context where everything seems to lead us to resignation and community-centred attitude, I invite each of you to draw on the sacrifice of our nationalist heroes and the exceptional will of living together which enabled the outcome of reunification in 1961, to keep hope, and work tirelessly for a proud Cameroon, respectful of its historical heritage, endowed with a high national conscience and a sharp sense of national interest.

The National Resistance must remain stronger than ever in this delicate period, when the current regime believes it can take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to distract the Cameroonian people from their courageous struggle for change, and continue to arrest, torture and imprison CRM militants and sympathisers, far from the attention of Cameroonians and the international community.

I would like to reassure you that my determination remains steadfast. Stay strong so that together we take our fight to another level after this health crisis. Stay mobilised and confident. We will not accept – and neither will you, I know – the mutual agreement succession in our country, nor new popular elections without consensual reform of the electoral system. Only the Cameroonian people will have to choose their legitimate leaders, in freedom and democratic transparency.

You have shown on various occasions, both within the country and in the diaspora, that I have good reason to be proud of you, and to count on you, so that together we can take our destiny in our own hands. Never forget, I love you from the bottom of my heart.

Happy National Day to you all.

Yaoundé, 19th May 2020
Maurice KAMTO