Press Conference: CRM and the people of cameroon say NO to electoral shift in elections expected in 2018!

Dear Cameroonians, ladies and gentlemen,

More than a year ago, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) has publicly alerted the national and international opinion on the government plan of shifting the electoral calendar.

During my address to Cameroonians in December 2016, I was still warning against the Government's intention to shift the electoral calendar. I asserted:

"The year 2017 is the last turn before the crucial electoral year of 2018. The year 2018 will see the organization of senatorial election in April, legislative and municipal elections in September and presidential election in October. To these elections, one could add, if the electoral calendar was not considered a state secret by the power, regional elections. This very busy schedule calls for rigorous government organization and planning in terms of both financial resources and project management. Without attributing any intention whatsoever to the Government, the CRM considers that it is very important to maintain the electoral calendar. It will reject, with utmost energy, any change of this calendar for any reason whatsoever. Neither the war against Boko Haram in May 2014, nor the instrumentalization of a possible electoral reform at the last moment, nor budgetary issues will justify such a shift against which the CRM warned the Government one year ago. The Government must therefore implement everything during this year 2017, in order to settle details of all kinds for the successful preparation and organization of all the elections scheduled for 2018.".

Despite these warnings, the government is currently manoeuvring to postpone the long-awaited elections in our country in 2018. Its strategists want to put forward specious arguments about the security and financial resources that the CRM has been constantly rejecting for more than a year, to try to extend their stay in power, beyond presidential, senatorial, legislative and municipal terms. They also want to use the same arguments to delay the organization of regional elections, without which regional councils provided for by the Constitution twenty years ago, and never put in place, will remain a political mirage for Cameroonians.

The Government cannot and should not raise any reason for postponing elections which dates are known for several years. It was the next day after presidential elections in 2011 that the Government should have engaged in political, technical and financial preparations for the 2018 elections. The same goes for all other elections whose preparation should have started with the announcement of the results namely the double ballot of 29 September 2013 for the legislative and municipal elections, and April 2013 for senatorial elections.

The argument of the security situation being put forward by the Government is inadmissible because it has always been said that no part of the territory is held by Boko Haram terrorists. Furthermore, on Saturday, April 23, 2016, the CPDM held a public meeting in Maroua without any incident. One week after this CPDM meeting, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization banned the organization of the "CRM NATIONAL CARAVAN , FOR 2018 or BEFORE" meeting in the city of Bertoua, on the grounds that the Far North was a region at war where only  sons of the region could hold public political meetings. This tribal position of MINATD then revealed the government's will to use the war against Boko Haram for political purposes.

The Government's war-torn position in the handling of the crisis in the anglophone regions suggests to any attentive observer the regime's will to let the situation degenerate and then use it in its attempt to justify the shift in the electoral calendar expected in 2018. There is a clear political will to let the situation worsen.

The apology of the financial situation is also unacceptable when it is known that after the CEMAC Heads of State Summit of December 2016, when it was decided that Cameroon would return to the IMF, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development declared, during a debate on the Canal2 International on 31st December,  that our country did not have a financial problem and was submitting to budgetary adjustment in solidarity with the other Member States of that sub-regional organization. If, for the Government, the economic and financial situation of the country is sound and not a cause of concern, why should elections be postponed?

In spite of the war against Boko Haram, operating expenses of the state have not decreased much, on the contrary: fat salaries and benefits for managers of public enterprises not pegged to results; Multiplication of unnecessary commissions and meetings with per diem in  administrations; Endemic corruption in public services; the impressive and ever-increasing number of vehicles in the State's car fleet; Political corruption of the senior administration by the complaisant endowment  in vehicles unrelated to work needs, which are then sold out to them for the price of a piece of bread, and so on. Indeed, the government's management of public affairs, which is characterized by irresponsible accounting and regular embezzlement of public funds, rarely punished or only selectively, does not allow leaders of our country to put forward its financial position in order to shift the electoral calendar of 2018.

Some highlight the number of elections to defend the change of the electoral calendar. It can be argued that governing is about planning and that, consequently, the Government has had plenty of time to prepare for the various elections. Moreover, there was no obligation on the Government to hold senatorial elections in the same year as the other elections, since it was possible for them to organize them before 2013 or later.

CRM militants have been denouncing in a peaceful, legal and constant way, sometimes being beaten and then arrested by the police, the national electoral system including the composition and functioning of ELECAM since the twin elections of September 29, 2013, when the Regime perpetrated savage and barbaric frauds. The CRM draft bill on that matter has never been discussed three years after being submitted, in violation of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly.

So it will be futile for the power to wait until the last minute to falsely be receptive to the opening of a pseudo national dialogue on the reform of the electoral system and ELECAM.

The CRM draws the attention of all to the fact that, like in a country of the region and for the same purposes, the regime is methodically organizing the delay and disorder in the 2018 electoral calendar. The up-to-date organization of elections is an important element of democratic vitality, seriousness and credibility, which the Government cannot ignore.

On the basis of all these arguments, the CRM wants once again to call national and international communities as witness on the serious risks that the regime will put the nation under with its attempt to shift the planned electoral calendar in 2018.

The CRM already states that it will mobilize  Cameroonians of goodwill, members and supporters of political parties or not, in a timely manner, so that, as one man, the people firmly and peacefully stands against any shift in the electoral calendar that is nothing more than a political coup. The CRM will firmly oppose any confiscation of power by the CPDM regime through manoeuvres linked to the electoral calendar that is known to all. Let the Power know: neither political corruption nor repression will deter the CRM and Cameroonians from standing up against this umpteenth manoeuvre.

The CRM asks Cameroonians to remain vigilant on the requirement of a strict observation of the electoral calendar by President BIYA, whose respect of laws is so often exalted, so that on expected dates, candidates and parties fight democratically, manifesto against manifesto, to allow Cameroonians to choose their leaders, at a time when challenges are looming on the horizon of our country. The future of our dear fatherland is at stake.

Long live Cameroon!

Thank you very much.

Maurice KAMTO
National President
April 10th, 2017.