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The crisis in the two Anglophone Regions and the political high-handedness of President BIYA: the question of vacancy at the helm of the State

The two (2) Anglophone regions of Cameroon have been, since October 2016, in a deep political crisis, that has turned into a tragedy recording some lost of human lives, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, mass arrests, which does not always respect judicial procedures in force in our country not forgetting alleged cases of disappearances.

In reality, these two regions are presently in a near state of emergency, or better still in a state of exception, compounded with all sorts of human rights abuses, and the disorganization of the social and economic life of the citizens in these two regions.

The general situation in these two regions is so disturbing that despite the many announcements and calls of “back-to-school”, as a propaganda made all of last year, on the public media (radio and television) as well as in the government newspaper (Cameroon Tribune), these two Regions saw on the contrary a blank school year (a ghost academic year).

The 2017-2018 academic year is not likely to be any better. Indeed, the spectacular events of Thursday 22 September 2017, as the populations of the two Regions braved the impressive presence of security forces, put in place by the government did not scare them, to express their will to finally establish, under the auspices of the Government, a national dialogue on the anglophone problem, as a means to threaten the new school year 2017/2018.  Bomb blasts in the North West and Littoral Regions increased the already high tension and public anxiety.

We of CRM have kept saying and continue to say that, “secession is not an option” and we seize this opportunity to condemn with the utmost energy, any attempt to divide Cameroon, our dear fatherland, which is drawn and shaped by a history that we must assume collectively, by correcting errors and injustice that may have been committed.  But it is now obvious that the Government has demonstrated its inability or unwillingness to deal with this crisis of national construction and the preservation of the unity of our country.  Wait a moment! Without a clear understanding of the logic pursued, Government took an odd option to resolve the crisis out of the country, whereas the solution was and remains within its reach to solve but failed to do so. The President of the Republic did accept that the situation is serious, then he should personally handle it, instead of letting some over-zealous persons without any political legitimacy, to replace him in the settlement of the crisis.

These serious events of 22 September 2017, showed to the wide-world the magnitude of the crisis and of the Anglophone problems, which some government officials tried obviously to deny, took place while the President of the Republic was in New York, for the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The depth of the situation in the South West and North West Regions should have led the President of the Republic not to travel to New York, where he had not even mentioned the issue concerning the Anglophone crisis, but rather to go and meet his compatriots in anger.
 
He went there against any political logic.  His untimely travel confirmed, once more, his neglect for the political preoccupations of his compatriots. His attitude gives sufficient information about his sense of the state and his understanding of the devolution of power. Indeed, a politician cannot display, in a democratic system, contempt and arrogance vis-à-vis voters, except to consider that he holds his power from mechanisms capable of freeing himself from the expression of the will of the sovereign people.

Let us even accept that he had to go to New York! Any serious leader would have immediately interrupted his New York visit and come back to personally handle the crisis. Indeed, faced with the gravity of the situation, the President of the Republic should have fled back to Cameroon in order to assume his constitutional responsibilities. Unfortunately, he is officially missing since his speech in an empty UN hall.

Talking of conflicts at  the United Nations tribune, he said: "sounded out pain and suffering ... How many deaths ... How many refugees and displaced persons ... How many homeless children  with an uncertain  future, or even broken ... (...) let us mobilize,  let us give back, in our policies, our behaviour and our actions, priority to the Human Being. (...) Let us take action. In doing so, we will offer our people conditions for a decent life ... Priority to the Human Being! ". He concluded: "Today we are all, I would say," beggars of peace ". And these persistent threats challenge us all at the highest level. ". These remarks with humanist accents pronounced by President BIYA suggested that in the context of the anglophone crisis, he would forget his confrontational speech of 31 December 2016 and the political indifference he has so far displayed.

During his stay in New York, which we do not know whether it is going on, he had not sought to engage, even informally and privately, in discussions with anglophone compatriots of the diaspora, nor did he reach out to those who were forced into exile through repressive forces since the beginning of the crisis in 2016.

The country is orphaned by its President at the moment when it citizens need him the most. The people have become "beggars of peace" and in the interest of the Head of State, who is more likely to talk about poverty and suffering around the world than to truly involve himself in a voluntary approach in looking for solutions to the ravaging anglophone crisis that is shaking the nation today. How many deaths and material damage is needed for the President of the Republic, who holds all powers of the State, to rise up and finally fulfill the missions for which he has asked for several times, Cameroonians' votes in 2011? Is he waiting for the partition of Cameroon to take action? Taking action to do what when the house-Cameroon would have completely burned out?  It will be too late!

The situation in the country is so precarious that the President of the National Assembly, who until then had little to say on the matter, felt obliged to call on the Bureau of the National Assembly on 26 September 2017 including member of parliament spokespersons  of  political parties not represented in the Bureau of the august assembly and  CPDM members of parliaments from the North-West and South-West regions to talk of  "the situation which currently prevails in Cameroon, following the so-called Anglophone crisis ".  The fact that the highly conservative and ultra-partisan Speaker of the National Assembly - usually reluctant to include MPs other than those of his party, the CPDM and of its associated parties  to the decisions of the House he chairs - decided to take the initiative to reveal the vacancy at the helm of the state; that he has decided - and it has been extremely unusual under the New Deal Regime - to invite all bureau members, including those from parties  not represented on the Bureau of the Assembly, to this, the Tuesday 26 September  meeting, spelt out how serious the situation is in Cameroon.

The holding of this so-called "Expanded Bureau of the National Assembly" meeting on the Anglophone crisis clearly highlights the absence of the President of the Republic. Given that the situation in the two Anglophone Regions of the country have dragged on for almost a year now, and threats posed by the secessionist extremists to begin as of 1 October 2017, this absence highlighted by the President of the National Assembly confirms the failure of the President of the Republic, Head of State.

Article 6 (4) of Title II of the Constitutional Law of 18 January 1996, as amended in March 2008, provides: "Where the office of President of the Republic becomes vacant as a result of death, resignation or permanent incapacity duly ascertained by the Constitutional Council, the polls for the election of the new President of the Republic must be held not less than twenty (20) days and not more than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the office becomes vacant “ For reasons of his own, the President of the Republic has never accepted to implement either the provisions of the 1996 Constitution creating Regions in our country nor those creating the Constitutional Council. This has been observed for the past twenty-one (21) years, which is a serious political fault. Nevertheless, it is up to the Supreme Court, sitting in  as Constitutional Council, to legally ascertain the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic.

We have not stopped to mention with regret that the President of the Republic has never considered it necessary to visit the Far North region where terrorists of the Boko Haram sect have killed peaceful populations and soldiers since May 2014, to bring to the bruised population, the compassion and solace of the Nation, and in the Eastern Region where Central African rebels multiply murderous incursions. We must now note that the prolonged absence of the President of the Republic at a moment when the Nation is in real danger is an objective political and legal fact justifying consideration of the vacancy of power at the top of the State.

If, in view of the serious threat posed by the political, social and security situation, which is of particular concern in the North-West and South-West Regions, if the President of the Republic  does not returned to Cameroon before 1st October,2017, it would open the way to a possible examination of the vacancy of power by the Supreme Court ruling as the Constitutional Council.

In no country in the world can it be accepted that a President of the Republic, for whatever reason, disappears without informing the Nation, while the political, social and security situation is not only very condusive but it is also explosive. The agenda of the President of the Republic is unknown to the people since the end of his speech at the United Nations on Friday, 23 September 2017. Unless the Supreme Court sitting in as the Constitutional Council has been duly informed of the reasons and duration of this presidential absence, it must exercise the powers which the Constitution of the country gives to this highest jurisdiction of our land conferred it in such circumstances.

The situation is critical. Our existence as a nation is threatened in its unity and territorial integrity! I launch a patriotic appeal on all Cameroonians, anglophones and francophones, to get up like one man to stop any partition of our country. The illusion of secession will cause more deaths, more tears and more sufferings. Defense and security forces, whose presence in the two regions has been increasing, should exercise good judgment in carrying out their duty  without forgetting that their first mission is to protect people. At the same time, taking into account the inertia  of the head of state, I solemnly ask members of our parliament, elected representatives of the Cameroonian people, to take a political initiative being  a parliamentary political peace mission in the two Anglophone regions and to immediately put in place a parliamentary framework for dialogue in order to find the right solution to this lasting crisis, beyond bureaucratic and useless meetings. This is urgent.

Long Live a Cameroon united, brotherly and rich of its Anglophone and francophone diversity!

Because, the situation is precarious, it is our existence as a nation that is dangerously threatened including its unity and territorial integrity!

The CRM National President
Maurice KAMTO
Yaounde, 28th September 2017