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.