Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tears vigil in Cameroon


This article was first published in 2018 by Thomas Noirot


10 years ago, Cameroonians mourned their deaths. In February 2008, the "hunger riots" could have been those "of the end" ... of the reign of Paul Biya. In many countries, soaring world prices for several staples had caused anger in urban populations, suddenly deprived of access to food that was too dependent on imports. But in Cameroon, this was coupled with an unbearable rise in the price of fuel, which strangled taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers, essential to the economy of big cities. This social detonator was connected to another general anger: the fed up of the Biya system, at the very moment when the despot in place for already 26 years had the Constitution modified to remain in power indefinitely. The big cities caught fire. 

Did it shake power? In any case not his hand, which suppressed in blood his protest convulsion. One hundred to one hundred and fifty dead according to NGO reports, perhaps 2,000 arbitrary arrests, hundreds and hundreds of injured ... It was in the economic capital, Douala "the rebel", that the assessment was the heaviest ; on the bridge spanning the estuary, we notably saw a French-made helicopter chasing the demonstrators, many of whom threw themselves into the water ... without knowing how to swim. The Constitution was amended, and Paul Biya could be "re-elected" in 2011, with the approval of an Alain Juppe, then French Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

In France, in February 2008, the media and public opinion rightly rebelled against the violent repression orchestrated by China in Tibet, killing around 80 people.

But Cameroon, where the executioners were trained and equipped by France, once again escaped the radar of selective indignation. The repression of Cameroonian popular mobilisations systematically ran up against the French media filter: not only have the democratic forces never known a victory, but their fight is ignored. The French relentlessness against the separatists during a war still absent from the history books (1955-1971), the stifling of the protest during the "embers years" (1990-92), the electoral holdup of 1992 ( which enabled Paris to keep its Biya foal in place against an English-speaking winner at the polls) and the repression of the riots of 2008 thus undermined any collective culture of mobilization. Can you imagine for a single moment, 

Ten years after these riots, Paul Biya is a candidate - not officially declared - for his own succession. This year are scheduled municipal, legislative and presidential elections; this is done in a single round, leaving no chance for the opposition. And if the voters yell at the electoral holdup, the army will not hesitate to shoot in the heap, as at the beginning of October in the face of the demonstrations in the English-speaking regions (more than 40 dead according to the credible balance sheets). A month later, the French Embassy, ​​which maintains its military cooperation, decorated a dozen military officials on behalf of Franco-Cameroonian friendship on November 11. Everything is in place for Biya to "win" the 2018 election, without Paris being moved - French interests take precedence. 

African Banknotes 274 - February 2018 Thomas Noirot


Source: African Banknotes 274 - February 2018 Thomas Noirot