IIJD Call for Action: Mr. Paul Biya’s threat to democratization in Cameroon

We are writing to ask for your desperately needed help in response to the urgent threat to democracy that is currently occurring in Cameroon.  As Paul Biya continues to push for a modification to article 6.2 of the constitution that would allow him to extend his tenure beyond 2011 so too does the voice of the Cameroonian people clamour ever louder for permanent respite from his tyranny.

Greater pressure must be exerted by the international community on this corrupt government and it’s tyrannical leader to scrap their plans for modifying the constitution.  Biya has already revised the law once to extend his mandate; he will do it again to maintain his iron grip on power.

The demonstrations of the past couple of months following Biya’s initial proposal to modify the constitution in December are symptoms of the growing discontent of the people of Cameroon.  We have seen these demonstrations grow in strength and number, the most violent occurring just a few weeks ago before once again being suppressed by Biya’s brutal forces of order.  As his tyranny grows so too will the anger of the people; if democracy suffers another wounding blow the reaction will only grow ever stronger.  For this reason we implore you to heal these wounds before they become untreatable and the country descends into civil war.

Action on your part now will be far more achievable and far less costly as opposed to later intervention when matters have reached boiling point.  Please do not stand by to watch another potentially peaceful and prosperous African country go the way of her sisters.  International aid is already stretched to its limit; African soil is already saturated with blood.  Please intervene now before a flood of misery and destitution drains the life out of Cameroon.

Paul Biya has been in power since 1982.  In that time the economy’s growth rate has more than halved despite Cameroon’s wealth of natural resources.  He has plundered these resources for his own gain; he has brutally oppressed the people he should be protecting.  He is responsible for the destruction of his people’s freedoms and rights: the inalienable right of his people to free and fair elections, the right to free speech, the right to free and fair trials, the right to free movement and the right to life.  Paul Biya will continue to fight for power with more determination than ever.  If democracy prevails he knows that he shall be held accountable for his actions.

Hilaire Kamga, representative of the civil society platform and currently in the USA campaigning for Cameroon, is calling for an independent enquiry.  We at the IIJD fully support his call for a review, in line with the democratic process.  Kamga equally criticises those who believe that a change can only be brought about by violent means, by insurrection, revolution or even a coup d’état.  Such regime change is endemic to the history of modern Africa yet has rarely proven to yield positive change, merely replacing one violent regime with another.  It is not simply that the head of this corrupt system in Cameroon must go but that the whole system must change.  If not, a new man in power will become just as corrupt as the last, a victim to this untenable system.

Kamga says “We have to find the means of avoiding the worst by constructing realistic mechanisms that are efficient and credible, that may permit the citizens to find confidence in their country without being drawn into dead-end political options”

The only way to bring about real positive change in Cameroon is through democratic means.  A constitution should not be changed if it is to the detriment of democracy and the negation of the rights of the people, but to ensure the independence of the executive, legislative and justice branches of government, to ensure a free and fair legal system, to increase the transparency and accountability of the branches of government and to ensure the fundamental need for free, fair, and frequent elections.

When the system starts to function in a democratic manner it will become its own defense against corruption and tyranny.  We encourage an independent enquiry into the modification of the constitution and for a pressure to be put on Biya to call a halt to his project of tyranny.

We believe that the constitution of Cameroon is in need of modification but this must only be done in the interests of the people. The modification of article 6.2 will only allow Paul Biya to continue to plunder Cameroon for his own gain and continue to send Cameroon spiralling into the dark ages.  By continuing to provide financial aid to this regime foreign governments are only lining the pockets of corrupt government officials and paying for the brutal suppression of a people, smothering their calls for freedom and justice and precipitating the decline into poverty and misery. Action must be taken now.

If something is not done Cameroon will descend into civil war. If demonstrations have been violent before the change imagine the chaos if the change is implemented.  The people of Cameroon will not back down in their fight for a free and fair democracy and fair and transparent system of justice in their country.  We must ensure that their fight and their energy be a peaceful one to end this tale of woe.

Thank you for your commitment to this urgent issue

Yours Sincerely,

Benjamin Ngachoko

President and CEO

International Institute for Justice and Development