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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Re-election of Biya: everything has changed in the seraglio [Jeuneafrique]

Despite the unsurprising reelection of Paul Biya, never has the power in place been so challenged. But the opposition will have to overcome its divisions if it wants to be a credible alternating force.

The atmosphere is electric. A stone's throw from the Odza dispensary, south of Yaoundé, everyone comments on the vote of the day before. Under the sun of the middle of this day of October 8, we wait.Maurice Kamto was to speak at 10:30 in his headquarters.

It is 3 pm A 4x4 crosses the gate. Under the "Kamto, president!", The boss of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) sneaks to the pulpit, apologizes for the delay and declares winner of the presidential election. On the mezzanine floor where dozens of activists gather, two young people congratulate each other. "It's launched! Exclaims the first. " It's now! The second answers. A few minutes later, the ad went around the world.

Read also: Jean De Dieu Momo multiplies attacks against Bamileke

Cameroon has momentarily two presidents: one, outgoing, calmly waiting for his reelection, the other, self-proclaimed, cheeks go-all. We know the rest. "Paul Biya was marked by the 1984 coup attempt and the presidential election he almost lost in 1992," said a Cameroonian political scientist.

Each time he locked the system a bit more. Maybe this October 8, 2018 is the day the building cracked. "We had broken into the minds of Cameroonians that the vote was useless, that after Biya, it was Biya or chaos, enthuses, treasurer of the campaign of Akere Muna, a candidate rallied to Kamto. The year2018 proved the opposite: others have the scope to exercise power. We will not go back. "One thing is certain: Cameroonians had never been so passionate about a campaign."There has been an unprecedented involvement, especially among young people, through the candidacy of Cabral Libii, whose breakthrough can not be concealed," said Hans De Marie Heungoup, researcher at the International Crisis Group. Of course, the abstention remains high (46.15%) and, according to the official results, Paul Biya has achieved very good scores (around 90% of the vote) in the South, the East and the Far North.

As for a quarter of a century, voters in the latter region have massively followed the president, hoping no doubt that one of their harvest, one day, the laurels of the estate. But Biya has also lost the Littoral, where it had prevailed seven years ago, and the fervor of the campaign was that for the first time in three decades, the alternation seemed possible.

Lawful and casual victory "It's a fact, the youth has resumed a taste for politics," said Chrétien Tabetsing. From then on, the gap appeared enormous between, on the one hand, a mobilization and a new offer and, on the other, the legal and casual victory of a president who only addressed the electors ten minutes. The highlight of this new paradox: October 22, the Constitutional Council aprocédé to the tedious proclamation of the success of Paul Biya.

Read also: Re-election of Biya: Cabral presents his PV and threatens the police 

On live television, exhausted judges ran the long litany of results for nearly five hours. Before offering a cocktail to the dignitaries present, the regime wanted to prove that in Cameroon, it is always master of the legality. Did he do well? "There was a boomerang effect, rejoices Celestin Djamen, a former Social Democratic Front (SDF) who joined the MRC. They thought to crush.

the opposition in mondovision, but they only managed to put the lie of state on television. Several million Cameroonians were able to follow the debates of the Council, from October 16 to 19. They saw him reject, one by one, the appeals lodged by the opposition and listened to it to expose his arguments. Argument after pleading, accusation after accusation, proof after proof.

Clement Atangana, the presiding judge, did not flinch. But in a political marigot where battles often took place far from the surface, times have changed. The quarrels broke out in the open. Opponents, prepared and determined, dared to rise to the platform. "It was a real moment of citizen participation, perhaps founder of a new democracy, adds the political scientist Fred Eboko.

This has brought to light one thing: what is legal is not necessarily right. "In the spotlight, the lawyers took the floor and did not let go. "We were given the opportunity to show the Cameroonians that we could beat the system, even if the final decision was still unfavorable," says one of them. Maurice Kamto, Akere Muna and their supporters gave their all to heart, relayed by Cabral Libii and Joshua Osih (SDF). The unpublished spectacle of the opposition and its new leader had begun. Influential social networks Was the Rassemblement démocratique des peuple camerounais (CPDM) ready for such an offensive? Admittedly, the old methods have continued to work. The ethnic attacks rained on Maurice Kamto as in the monsoon period, through media close to power.

Read also: Paul Biya's Ministry of Domains dragged to Court

In spite of the increasingly frequent protests of intellectual elites, the violent rhetoric "Bamileke against power" ran out of time. But the rejuvenated, better connected and diaspora-minded opposition has found a way to bring the debate to the bottom and counter the power of the CPDM.

"The influence of social networks has been dominant and has helped to limit the effects of unequal treatment in the media," says Mathieu Youbi, a supporter of Maurice Kamto. It is also on Twitter, on October 23, that Joshua Osih, a candidate of a homeless person threatened with extinction (3.35% of the votes), admitted his defeat. Saluting an "extraordinary election", he felt that "nothing will be [it] more like before!" Should we believe it? In the arcades of the CPDM, a smile is in order.The "national president" has repaid. "The steamroller is gone," slips a frame. But some grimaced and foresaw difficult days. As the party burst of rumors of a future reshuffle, which would already be in preparation at the palace of Etoudi and will necessarily more dissatisfied than happy.Fragilized by the conflicts of generations, the criticisms towards its secretary general, Jean Nkuete, and by the eternal debates on the succession of Paul Biya, the RDPC could lose big during the legislative elections of 2019. The opposition, which hopes to attract the disappointed ones will it make the weight so far?

The mirage of a government of national unity has already reappeared and caused first damage, Cabral Libii being forced to deny his interest for a collaboration with Paul Biya without prior agreement on a transfer of power. AkereMuna, if he remains attached to the unity of the opposition, he still hopes to play his personal card, in a movement allied but distinct from that of Maurice Kamto. The latter knows it: everything may have changed these 7 and 8 October, but everything remains to be done, especially if he wants his popular success to be more than a temporary phenomenon.

Convinced of his right, he continued to deliver the verdict-he relies on the figures of the winner at 39.74%, against 38.47% for Biya - and intends to make the case before the African Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. But the fight plays elsewhere, Yaounde, Douala, Maroua or Ngaoundere, where the crowds have felt the blow of the country, where the MRC's powerful national program of resistance, on October 25. "Hope is the pillar of the world," says the proverb.Rest to embody it and maintain the flame, which others will need to choke.