Archive for March, 2008

For 20 years, FOC funds development projects in Cameroon

March 30th, 2008 by admin

Since the organization was established in 1987, the Friends of Cameroon has funded more than two dozen village-based development projects in Cameroon, valued at more than $30,000. Projects have been located throughout the provinces of Cameroon, and have included a foot bridge in Kumba in the South West, a safe for Maga Health Clinic in the Extreme North, a beekeeping project in Njinikom in the North West, and a school for the deaf in Yaounde. Projects typically are in the health, education, and community development sectors.

The most recent projects funded were four community-based development projects worth 1.589.670 CFA ($3,117) FCFA, were located in Makak in the Center, Mvangan in the South, Batouri in the East, and in Yagoua, Extreme North Provinces, and focused on HIV/AIDS education and outreach. The projects were selected for the various methods proposed to reach out to local communities and educate the populations about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and how to protect against the deadly disease. The proposals were submitted by local organizations working in concert with Peace Corps Volunteers assigned to the areas.

FOC projects have included:

FOC support of $621 to the Club des Jeunes Aveugles Rehabilites du Cameroon helped the group, made upof blind and vision-impaired persons, expand their poultry business in Yaounde with the purchase of a freezer for their store.
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In 2004, FOC funded the purchase of a cassava grinder for the Neyokoty Ariey Cooperative in the Acha Etemetek village. The grinder, purchased for $820, helped the village group to expand its business while making the grinding of cassava more easily availableto the local community.
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One of FOC’s earliest projects was the construction of a footbridge crossing the Kumba River, easing the travel of villagers to the main market in Kumba. FOC contributed $1000 towards the construction of the bridge.
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In the Eastern Province, FOC support of $1,000 helped to purchase a mixed gas and electric refrigerator for the health clinic in Sokamalam, shown with the health center chief Nguel Isiclure. The fridge is used to store vaccines and allow the clinic to reach more people. The project was guided by PCV Jennifer Goldman.
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FOC supported the “Modern Beekeeping Project” of the Boyui Young Farmer’s Club in the North West, which allowed them to purchase needed equipment to improve their hives (such as the one under the arrow) and expand their honey production and group income.
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FOC project requirements

In order to be eligible for FOC funding, the applicant must live in Cameroon, be Cameroonian and/or working in Cameroon with either a private, non-profit organization, a cooperative or registered non-profit, or a village-based organization for by villagers for a communal purpose. The majority of the members of the applicant organization or the majority of the beneficiaries must be Cameroon citizens. It is required that the applicant is planning to provide, in cash or in kind, a minimum of one-fourth of the total cost of materials and/or labor of the project(s) supported by FOC funds.

The Friends of Cameroon was established in the United States in 1987, and the group’s members include persons who worked and lived in Cameroon as Peace Corps Volunteers, staff of the U.S. Embassy, USAID, and missionaries. The primary function of the organization is to keep members informed about Cameroon, continue to link those who served there, and to support small, community development projects in the country.

Cameroon Airlines out of business

March 30th, 2008 by bobebill

After a failed attempt to privatise Cameroon’s State-owned carrier, government has finally decided on an eventual burial of the company
(From The Herald, adapted from Jeune Afrique)

Cameroon’s lone international carrier, Cameroon Airlines (CAMAIR), is currently in the throes of death. On 14 March, government placed the company on liquidation after refusing to renew the contract of Paul Ngamo Hamani, provisional administrator since 23 February 2005.

In his place will be appointed two co-liquidators; one to work on financial aspects and the other on judicial aspects, “without stepping on toes”, announced Lazare Essimi Menye, Cameroon’s minister of Finance.

At the same time, a new management team was put in place on 19 March, to ensure the resumption of CAMAIR flights (suspended more than two weeks ago), especially to and from Paris. This route represents 80 percent of the carrier’s traffic and much of its revenue.

Flights were scheduled to resume on 22 March. But this date was rather tentative as authorities were still in search of a strategic partner to manage the new subsidiary of the carrier, CAMAIRCO, created by President Paul Biya in September 2006.

Will this change of outfit be sufficient to save CAMAIR? It is doubtful, considering the erratic nature of the handling of the dossier. Appointed on 19 March, Adolphe Sammet Bell, who has worked with the carrier for 30 years, is the sixth manager of CAMAIR in a little over a decade. While he was second in command, government tried for four years, in vain, to privatise the company.

“With a renewable six-month contract, Paul Ngamo Hamani lacked visibility. He was also not given the means to develop a real plan to re-launch the company,” a source close to the dossier said.

Despite these, he managed to reduce the bloated staff of the company from 1309 to 800 employees, thereby reducing the monthly salary from 700 million to 400 million FCFA.

This is an outstanding performance, but it was still insufficient to save a company pressed down by an 80 billion FCFA debt and which owns only one plane, the famous Dja (Boeing 767-300), currently impounded at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Meantime, the search for a strategic partner does not seem to be advancing. Since the second call for tender in June 2007, nothing has changed, partly because government does not seem to know its destination, after annulling the provisional adjudication constituted by the Belgian company, Brussels Airlines, and a Cameroonian venture capital company, Cenainvest.

“It is not necessary to go through a privatisation. CAMAIRCO can maintain its public status, on condition that the private partner is given total liberty to manage the company, following the respect of a cahier des charges determined by the State,” explains an expert who is working on the dossier.

While waiting, the American carrier, United Airlines, that was once mentioned as being interested has not yet made a move.

Cameroon Embassy official blames protesters for riots

March 17th, 2008 by admin

(Exclusive story on Cameroon protests in Washington, D.C. and interview with Cameroon Embassy)

By Andy Matthews
Editor
The Mount Airy News

Big SignWASHINGTON, D.C. ? A spokesperson for the Cameroon Embassy said on Friday that anti-government protesters are not looking for a peaceful resolution to their quarrels with President Biya’s administration, suggesting that they prefer instead to incite riots and civil unrest that have led to the country’s worst violence in the last 15 years.

Bush Help RequestedModeste Michel Essono, the First Secretary of Communication for the Embassy of Cameroon’s Communication Center, also said that some Cameroon protesters in the United States are deliberately misleading the media, providing news outlets with sensational stories of government brutality so that they can seek refugee status in the United States. The military was forced to act, Essono said, to restore order in the country, adding that there is no way to know if some of the deaths linked to the military’s crackdown weren’t “accidents” separate and apart from the demonstrations.

“The duty of the government is to protect the people; to make sure everything is done peacefully,” Essono said in an exclusive interview with The Mount Airy News from his D.C. office. “These people ? these protesters; they show you a lot of pictures. They just come here with pictures of dead people. How are they sure they did not die in accidents? How are they sure they are killed by the military . . .

Woman Protester“They just want to go out and start fires everywhere. Why do this? They just want to create some stories to convince people there is unrest in Cameroon . . . They are insulting their own country.”

Essono’s comments came as about 100 hundred protesters gathered Friday morning in front of the Cameroon Embassy to demonstrate against President Paul Biya just weeks after protests rocked the central African country, leading to the worst violence the country has seen since 1992. Human rights activists claim that more than 100 lives were lost and many more injured. The Cameroon government initially placed the death tool at 15 but has since raised it to 40.

Little GirlBiya wants to amend the Cameroon constitution to allow him to go on ruling until 2018 when he will be 85. Currently, the constitution says that Biya cannot stand for another seven-year term in the 2011 elections.

Property damage from the protests, which began February 25, has been estimated at 10 billion CFA francs (23.4 million dollars). Between 1,500 and 1,700 people are thought to have been arrested so far. Many have been sentenced to prison terms in a process that has been decried by the independent press as unfair.

OnlookerTaxi drivers parked their vehicles and many cities resembled “ghost towns” as protesters burned tires, tossed stones at vehicles and destroyed some gasoline stations. The protests were a response to a rise in fuel and living costs. The government has since cut fuel prices marginally and said it plans to raise civil service pay.

Standing in front of a crowd of demonstrators, Chief Alexander Tabre lifted up a bullhorn as he excoriated the Cameroon government for what he called the brutal repression of free speech and prominent opposition leaders who he says are routinely locked up by the military when they oppose Biya’s desire to extend his presidential rule.

Police“My friends, we do not know the exact numbers of children who have died,” Tabre shouted, turning his voice and attention to the large three-story Cameroon Embassy complex. “We don’t want the United States or the United Nations to come after people have died. We want to avoid that. We want a peaceful transition of power.”

If anyone is to leave, Tabre said, it should be Biya.

“The only person we want to exile is Biya,” Tabre shouted as the crowd exploded in applause and cheers of “Yes we can!”

ProtesterAs more protesters continued to gather in front of the Cameroon Embassy, the small grassy area was adorned with signs demanding that Biya step down. “No to Constitutional Change” said one sign. “No to Biya’s Life Presidential Bid After 26 Years,” said another. “Amnesty International: Cameroonians Need Your Help,” said a sign that showed a beaten, bloody body on a hospital stretcher. “President Bush Helps the Cameroonians,” said yet another placard.

Larry Eyong-Echaw laid out the protester’s requests.

“We want peaceful change through elections,” he said as the crowd chanted “Down With Biya.” “We don’t want bloodshed. We want a peaceful resolution . . Biya wants to put his son in power.”

It’s difficult to imagine how an opposition party will be able to wrest control from Biya since all opposition leaders are called unpatriotic if they criticize the president. In a rare television appearance on Feb. 28, three days after the riots began, Biya accused demonstrators of manipulating youths to destroy property and called them “demons.”

Organizers of Friday’s protests still believe that they can use the power of the media, the Internet and diplomacy to achieve their goals. They want to avoid civil wars that have plagued other African countries.

“The only way to get results is through international pressure,” said Admin T. Tazifor, who like many protesters, drove several hours all night to arrive at the early morning protest.

Two protesters, Talla Corantin and Eric Tagne, say they are political exiles in the United States. If they return to Cameroon, after organizing anti-government protests, they will be arrested by the military.

“We cannot do this in Cameroon,” Corantin said. “This is forbidden in Cameroon.”

Tagne agreed, noting that his wife and daughter remain in Cameroon while he tries to find them a home in America.

“If I go back, I’m dead,” Tagne said. “As a student I organized a strike and I was tortured.”

Larry Eyong-Echaw said that the United States and France are “colluding” with multi-national corporations to reap the benefits of Cameroon’s natural resources.

“If you take our oil, you must take our refugees,” Eyong-Echaw told a cheering crowd.

There was one tense moment in Friday’s demonstrations as members of the Civil Society Platform for Democracy in Cameroon, which organized the protest, delivered a letter to Cameroon Embassy officials. Washington, D.C., police moved toward the crowd, instructing demonstrators not to cross the street.

The letter to Cameroon Parliamentarians pleads with government officials to oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow Biya to extend his rule until 2018.

“We remain hopeful that the President of the Republic will listen to the message we sent to him,” the March 14 letter says in part. “Nonetheless, we are cognizant of the fact that you remain the voice of the people and we are calling on you to recognize the potential for civil unrest and political instability that may ensue if the intention to modify the constitution is put into effect.”

Andy Matthews
Editor
The Mount Airy News
www.mtairynews.com
Amatthews@mtairynews.com
1-336-749-8974

The people versus Biya

March 14th, 2008 by admin

Africa Confidential
Vol 49 Number 6, 14th March 2008
CAMEROON

The people versus Biya
The President wants to go on for ever but recent protests show the people may not let him

Having ruled for 25 years, President Paul Biya wants to go on ruling until 2018, when he will be 85. The constitution decrees that he cannot stand for a further seven-year term in the 2011 elections. Although there are dissenters in the ruling Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais, Biya would not have much trouble persuading his parliament to pass the necessary constitutional amendment, since he controls it through his iron grip on the RDPC.

Some observers fear that Cameroon might replicate the troubles of Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya. The violence in its larger towns late last month was the worst for 15 years. The rioters were ostensibly protesting against fuel price rises but a slight reduction in prices after two days of strikes did not calm things down and the protests became overtly political. Mboua Massock (‘father of the ghost towns’), who helped to organise nationwide anti-government protests in the early 1990s, had led previous demonstrations against the proposed constitutional changes. He was promptly arrested.

The weak but sometimes noisy official opposition, led by the Anglophone John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), is united in its opposition to any constitutional change. So too are most of Cameroon’s numerous civil society organisations. After some looting and destruction, the police and later the army responded in the way they know best, by shooting down demonstrators: twenty were killed during a week of protests.

This is how Biya and his government have reacted to public protest for 20 years. When protests against the constitutional change started, the Governor of Littoral Province, Fai Yengo Francis, banned all demonstrations in Douala, the economic capital. The protesters responded by erecting barricades, destroying government property and looting. As during the anti-government strikes of the early 1990s, Gilbert Tsimi Evouna, Government Delegate to the Yaounde Urban Council, put into circulation 20 taxis to cripple the core of the protest, the taxi-drivers’ strike.

Information Control

The regime vigorously blocked public information. Communications Minister Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam sent soldiers to close down two private radio and television stations, Equinoxe in Douala and Magic FM in Yaounde. He claimed that neither had paid the 100 million CFA francs (US$200,000) required for an operating licence. Equinoxe Editor-in-Chief Charles Akoh said the stations had been shut for being too critical of the government crackdown on peaceful demonstrators; the Minister summoned newspaper editors and threatened to close them down, too, if they went on criticising the government.

On state radio and television at the height of the crisis, Biya accused the opposition of trying ‘to obtain through violence what they were unable to obtain through the ballot box’ and threatened ‘legal action’ against anyone fomenting trouble. Fru Ndi denied any involvement in organising the demonstrations but said he supported the protests against the ‘illegal increase in fuel prices’. Transport union officials called the demonstrations but failed to control their consequences. Many demonstrators acknowledged that the strike had given them an opportunity to vent their anger about other grievances.

The presidential succession is particularly problematic, because Biya is grooming a successor. After a failed coup d’état in 1984, Bello Bouba Maïgari, then Prime Minister and probable presidential successor, was fired and the post scrapped. From the Northern Province, Bello Bouba was accused of supporting former President Ahmadou Ahidjo (another northerner), who was in turn accused of staging the coup. Bouba fled to neighbouring Nigeria but came back and is now Minister for Posts and Telecommunications.

Critics are rare and soon silenced. Titus Edzoa, who had been Secretary General at the Presidency and a presidential confidant, resigned as Health Minister in 1997 to stand in the presidential election, was promptly arrested and is serving 15 years in gaol for embezzling state funds. Ayissi Mvondo, who aimed to run against Biya, died under mysterious circumstances. Célestin Monga, an economist, challenged the President’s failing economic policies, was promptly put on trial, escaped with a suspended sentence and now lives abroad. Mila Assoute also challenged Biya and now lives in France. Opposition leaders are called unpatriotic if they criticise the President. Last month, Biya accused them of manipulating youths to destroy property and called them ‘demons’.

Standing for election against Biya is not a rational move, since local and foreign observers consistently describe his elections as ‘flawed’. The government has resisted all suggestions that it might create an independent electoral commission to organise free and fair polls; it did, however, make economic reforms just sufficient to gain admission in 2000 to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries programme, which the International Monetary Fund designed to reduce unsustainable debt owed by countries that agree on fiscal and economic reform (normally, but not in this case, including transparency for government accounts).

Somewhat behind the times, Biya’s opponents tend to assume that France, the former colonial power, will have a big say in who becomes the next president; the late President Ahidjo lost his job when France withdrew its support. Biya met President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last year but although Sarkozy has twice been to Africa since his election in May 2007, he has not visited Cameroon – and seems keen to escape the African entanglements that in the recent past have aligned France with various dictators. In any case, there is nobody left who looks worth backing.

John Fru Ndi, the best-known opposition leader, is a militant English-speaker who, during the turbulent 1990s, called for a boycott of French goods in protest against French influence. This February’s street protesters attacked French businesses, including stores belonging to the brewery Brasseries du Cameroun, kiosks of the betting company Pari Mutuel Urbain du Cameroun, Total oil company (and Mobil) and even French-owned driving schools. A protester said these were legitimate targets as symbols of the hated French influence in politics. In fact, there are few other foreign businesses to attack.

Charles Ateba, a supporter of the ruling party who opposes any constitutional amendment to make Biya president for life, describes Cameroon as ‘a volcano waiting to erupt’. Adamou Ndam Njoya, leader of the opposition Union Démocratique du Cameroun, believes the country is on the brink of civil strife. Political pundit (and former SDF Secretary General) Tazoacha Asonganyi sees similarities between the violence that followed elections in Kenya and events in Cameroon. Yet there are big differences.

Biya has held power far longer and has entrenched it far deeper than Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, who was originally democratically elected. Cameroon has no powerful opposition leader (ethnically based or otherwise) such as Raila Amolu Odinga. Yet many of the ingredients for an eventual explosion are in place.

Travel Warning Update: Cameroon

March 12th, 2008 by admin

Travel Warning
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

CAMEROON

March 12, 2008

This Travel Warning updates American citizens on the security situation in Cameroon. The situation has calmed considerably, though security forces remain visible throughout the country. The U.S. Embassy is open for full services. However, political developments or a resumption of taxi strikes could result in more violence. The Department of State recommends that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Cameroon. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Cameroon dated February 28, 2008.

Between February 25 and February 29, violent demonstrations, roadblocks, looting, and clashes with police in Cameroon resulted in numerous fatalities and the arrests of approximately 1600 individuals. The worst violence was in Douala and the Littoral, South West, West, and North West provinces, but unrest also began in the capital city of Yaounde on the morning of February 27. Although critical services quickly deteriorated and there were temporary shortages of food, fuel, and water, as well as transportation disruptions, throughout the country, those services have returned to normal. The situation has calmed considerably, though security forces remain visible throughout the country.

On February 28, the Department of State authorized the departure from Cameroon of eligible family members of American employees of the U.S. Embassy. Although the U.S. Embassy is open for full services, the Department continues to recommend that American citizens defer non-essential travel to Cameroon. American citizens remaining in Cameroon despite this warning should monitor the U.S. Embassy Yaounde website at http://yaounde.usembassy.gov and should make contingency plans.

U.S. citizens or family members concerned for the safety of American citizens in Cameroon or seeking updated information on travel and security in the country may call 24/7 at 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada. Callers outside the United States or Canada should call our regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. American citizens in Cameroon are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.

Cameroon ups state wages, cuts prices after riots

March 10th, 2008 by bobebill

Sat 8 Mar 2008
By Tansa Musa

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroonian President Paul Biya has raised state salaries by 15 percent and suspended customs duties on basic foodstuffs like fish, rice and cooking oil to ease discontent over high prices which provoked riots last week.

In two presidential decrees broadcast on state radio late on Friday, Biya increased the wages of civilian and military personnel from April 1 and raised their family allowances by 20 percent of the monthly basic salary.

The radio also said custom duties on cement would be cut to 10 percent from 20 percent until the end of August, to ease an acute shortage of building materials which has led to a doubling in the consumer price for cement in recent months.

Biya also urged the government to settle its payment arrears, maintain salary and pension advances, strengthen youth employment programmes and recruit more part-time teachers.

In the medium term, he demanded a review of the pricing of fuels, telephone rates and bank charges and he urged the government to press ahead with stalled industrial, mining and agricultural projects.

“I urge the prime minister to scrupulously carry out with celerity and efficacy the instructions I have just given. I will not tolerate any failure in their execution,” Biya said.

Neighbouring West African countries have announced similar measures to counteract the effects of high food prices.

Niger on Saturday announced the suppression of all taxes and customs duties on rice imports for three months, and said it would increase government stockpiles of rice and cereals.

Burkina Faso also announced a reduction in customs on basic foodstuffs last month after several towns were hit by protests. IMF Director General Dominique Strauss-Kahn, visiting the region last month, said the Fund would support measures to counteract the price rises.

The measures in Cameroon came in the wake of a February 25-28 taxi drivers strike to protest at fuel price hikes in the central African country that degenerated into rioting in several towns against the high cost of living and Biya’s intention to extend his 25 years in power.

The government put the death toll from the clashes at 24, although human rights activists put it at over 100, most of these shot dead by the police in the economic capital Douala.

The government said 1,671 people were arrested, about 200 of whom have so far been tried and sentenced to serve between six months and three years in prison. Rights organisations denounced the summary trials behind closed doors and heavy jail terms.

Meanwhile, union groups criticised Biya’s announcements.

“For us, these are just cosmetic measures and a non-event,” said the president of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU) Simon Nkwenti. “What we want is the restoration of salaries to their pre-1993 levels.”

In 1993, as part of IMF-backed reforms, Cameroon cut wages by 70 percent and, one year later, the CFA franc currency was devalued by 50 percent, slashing consumer purchasing power.

In the early 1980s, Cameroon was one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most successful economies, with annual growth of over 7 percent.

But the country was plunged into a prolonged economic crisis in the mid-1980s by a collapse in coffee, cocoa, and oil prices, which exposed the weakness of economic policies.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/ )

Tidbits of Cameroon’s Civil Unrest – Feb – March 2008

March 10th, 2008 by admin

By Joe Dinga Pefok Leocadia Bongben & Elvis Tah

Bamenda: Northwest Governor, Achidi Achu, J. B Ndeh Tear-gassed
Northwest Governor, Abakar Ahamat, who had braved it to the Bamenda
Commercial Avenue grandstand to conclude his maiden tour of the seven Divisions on
Tuesday morning, was greeted by angry rioters.

As the surging crowd invaded the grandstand, anti-riot gendarmes and
soldiers fired teargas, which nearly suffocated the officials who went crashing on
their bellies. Apart from Abakar, former Prime Minister, Simon Achidi Achu, John B. Ndeh
and a host of others came short of taking to their heels.
Free Booze
There was a free for all self-service boozing at three brewery depots in
Bamenda. Youths were seen with crates of beer looted from Guinness S.A and Les
Brasseries du Cameroun all over major streets. Some who got drunk were
arrested and they only regained soberness in detention camps.
Yaounde:Transporters Warn Government Against Obsolete Methods
Transporters’ trade unions have warned government to do away with colonial
methods of solving problems. The transporters sounded this warning at a
meeting with the Director of the National Hydrocarbons Price Stabilisation Fund,
CSPH, Ibrahim Talba Malla, and government officials. They said government
instead of addressing a problem, turn around it.
They urged government to ensure that the promises made are redeemed. The
trade union leaders argued that if government had just reduced the price of fuel
even by FCFA 5, there wouldn’t have been a strike.
They accused government for being responsible for the strike. Though the
meeting was to inform them of the price fixing methods employed by the CSPH, the
trade unionists said they had learned such mathematics since 2005 and wanted
only cuts in the price of fuel.
Gendarmes Vandalise Magic FM
Gendarmes reportedly made their way into the studios of Magic FM on
Wednesday and ceased broadcast equipment. They snipped wires, ceased telephones and
took away computers. According to information from Kiyeck, Magic FM
Editor-in-Chief, the problem is that “Magic Attitude” a call-in programme is allegedly
critical of government. He said the gendarmes accused them of inciting the
people to make them revolt, the consequence being the strike. Kiyeck said that
it should have been the work of the Ministry of Communication that is silent
on the issue.
Drivers Say Their Leaders Were Bribed
Drivers have accused their leaders of being corrupted by the government for
them to call off the strike. They say this explains why they did not
negotiate well enough. To them, it is normal for the government to raise fuel price
by FCFA 16 only to take it down by a meagre FCFA 6. Following the accusations,
some of the syndicate offices are said to have been destroyed and the
leaders are in hiding.
Though there are threats for the strike to resume on Monday, the President
of the Taxi Drivers’ Trade Union has maintained that efforts are underway to
ensure that the arrested drivers are released before Monday.
Students Circulate Tracts
Students who joined the strike circulated tracts with a heading which read,
“Youths are Saying: No to Constitutional Amendment”. Following a meeting that
held in Douala on February 17, the youths represented by ADDEC, CECODEV,
UNECA, UBSU, FCJ, MOCPAT, Uone, SOS- Jeunesse Libre, Un Monde a Venir, SURCI,
and Masters of the Game, they declared that the constitutional revision can be
envisaged only after 2011. They announced the creation of the Youths’
Patriotic and Popular Council to independently organise and federate without any
external influence of youth political participation.
Buea: Brutality
The transporters’ strike plunged Buea on Monday, February 25 into a ‘ghost
town’ of sorts. This situation was made worst by death and several injured
youths after protestors clashed with anti-riot police. Troops fired live bullets
in the air and used teargas to disperse stone-throwing youths, while several
youths were arrested and detained.
Besides this, the troops went on the rampage breaking into private homes,
beating household members and looting property such as TV sets, cell phones,
money and other valuables.
Man Hides Under Bed
A father in Great Soppo reportedly hid under his bed leaving his wife and
two little children in the parlour when troops invaded his house. The troops
ordered one of his kids to go to the room and call his father, which he did.
The father reportedly chased the boy, who lied to the troops that his father
had escaped. The officers then asked for money from the man’s wife, who
received some strokes for not giving anything.
Police Stopped From Looting
Policemen got to a palm wine drinking spot belonging to a certain Romanus.
There were people drinking palm wine outside while others were inside his
parlour watching TV. When the police arrived, those who were outside alerted
those in the house and they all escaped, causing a stampede.
The police ate some bananas that were for sale, and were about going away
with the TV set, when Romanus and a group came out of their hideout and stopped
them. The policemen quietly gave back the TV set when Romanus and his group
and other people started jeering at them, calling them thieves. In Sandpit,
it was a combination of armed forces, gendarmes and policemen that raided hous
es and beat up the occupants.
One of the victims, Richard Tanto, a barber, who was badly wounded on the
head and arm, told The Post that he was sleeping in his saloon when the
soldiers smashed the door and started brutalising him. “The soldiers hit me with the
end of a gun, destroyed my shaving mirror and other items…” Tanto said.
4 Shot, I Killed In Muea
Troops deployed in Muea reportedly shot four youths killing one on
Wednesday, February 27. A boy of about 12 was shot in the chest and he died
immediately. Bullets caught three others in their legs and buttocks. A certain Roland
Moki was shot in his right buttock, while another, Yengong Abubakar, received
a bullet in his ankle.
The third, whose only name we got as Eric, received a bullet in his right
leg that was amputated. The Post learned from the Buea Provincial Hospital
Annex that five victims injured by police bullets were received on Tuesday,
February 26. The youths had reportedly blocked the entrance and exit of Muea. They
destroyed part of King David Square Hotel and the house of its owner, Chief
David Molinge, who allegedly told the protesters to go and strike in Bamenda.
Douala: Prostitutes Count Losses
All economic operators in Douala are counting their losses following the
closure of their businesses due to the recent strike including prostitutes,
especially those who service ‘Rue de la Joie’ at Deido. They registered their
complaint that February 25 to 29 was bad a business period for them.
They said their situation was aggravated by the fact that many men in Douala
were more preoccupied with survival and security than with sex. Things got
rougher when many people were forced to cut down on their daily food
consumption, due to the scarcity and the skyrocketing prices of food. However, in the
night of Saturday, March 1, Rue de la Joie was as busy a beehive as the
prostitutes tried to catch up on lost time.
Many of them were already complaining about lack of their weekly or monthly
“njangi” money. Most of them didn’t ask for drinks or accepted drinks. It was
straight to business, as they each tried to secure as many men as possible
for the night. But then some young armed soldiers almost spoiled the sport by
all pestering the prostitutes about their ID cards.
Mboua Massock -The “Nuisance”
Political activist Mboua Massock, “Combatant”, has been regular in the news
these days in Douala. To the local administration, especially the Littoral
Governor, Francis Fai Yengo and the Wouri SDO, Bernard Atebede, Mboua Massock
is a big nuisance. It is also widely believed that Mboua Massock was one of
those President Biya attacked in his violent address of February 27, of wanting
to use unorthodox means to unseat him.
It is worth noting that Massock had for some years been silent, until when
he was last November in Geneva, Switzerland, awarded the newly created Felix
Moumie Prize, by an association of Cameroonian political activists in the
Diaspora that calls itself “Collectif des Organisations Democratiques et
Patriotiques de la Diaspora”.
At a press conference in December 2007, Mboua Massock announced a series of
public demonstrations aimed at getting the Government to institute official
recognition of martyrs like Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie, and Ernest Ouandie. He had
also announced that he has to launch a campaign to get all colonial statutes
in the country, especially those of some former French Generals, destroyed.
On Saturday, February 12, Mboua Massock went to Ndokotti market area and
organised a march to call on the Government to get history text books in
colleges revised, so as to include chapters on those he considered as Cameroon’s
martyrs. But then when Mboua Massock arrived in Ndokotti, he realised that the
main interest of the youths who joined him for the march, was rather the issue
of the controversial plan to change Article 6 (2) of the 1996 Constitution.
Massock immediately added that issue as one of the reasons for the public
demonstration, which the police later disrupted. Seeing that the focus of many
people in Douala these days is rather on the issue of the planned
constitutional change, Mboua Massock, has since that February 12 shelved the issue of
martyrs and statutes of colonialists and has gone full time staging “illegal”
public demonstrations against the planned constitutional revision.
Illegal Image Distributors
There are said to be some 600 cable distributors in Cameroon involved in the
piracy of images supplied by Canal Satellite. A bulk of these illegal cable
distributors are in Douala. It would be recalled that on January 19, the
cable distributors went on strike, when the authorised sole representative of
Canal Satellite in Cameroon, Multi TV Afrique, seized the equipment of one of
the biggest cable distributors in the country.
The seizure was said to be an implementation of court judgement, which by
then was over two months old. Considering the period of the strike action, the
administration had to quickly intervene in the crisis, to get the cable
distributors end the strike and reinstate images to their thousands of clients.
The issue here however is that, the strike and the subsequent meetings,
which the Minister of Communications has held with Multi TV Afrique and the cable
distributors, are now making many people in Douala realise that they had for
years been dealing with illegal cable distributors.
French Schools Remain Close
In spite of the song being sang by the CPDM government all over the
State-owned CRTV that everything is now back to normal in Cameroon, the French
Embassy is not taking any chances. A copy of a communiqué from the French Embassy
dated February 29, states that French schools in Yaounde and Douala that were
temporarily closed due to the strike action, will only reopen on Thursday,
March 6. These schools include Savio, Fustel de la Coulanges and Flamboyant.