Saturday, February 1, 2020

2020 Elections: Cameroon Faces "A Disaster" And "The Election Will Not Solve Anything", Opponent Maurice Kamto Speaks

The legislative and municipal elections of February 9 in Cameroon "will not solve any problem," hammered Thursday the leader of the opposition Maurice Kamto, whose party boycotted the poll by denouncing the "disaster" born of the bloody independence crisis in English-speaking regions.

“We did not decide to boycott by posture. It is a serious decision... it is a commitment to change things, to transform society ”, underlined the president of the Movement for the renaissance of Cameroon ( MRC ), during a press conference in Paris, followed an interview with AFP.

After the United States, Mr. Kamto is in France as part of a tour aimed at alerting the international community to "the gravity of the situation" in his country.

"True civil war", the deadly conflict between English-speaking separatists and the army in the North West and South West regions of the country is a "real disaster", denounced the unhappy rival of President Paul Biya in the presidential election of 2018.

In three years, the clashes have left at least 3,000 dead and more than 700,000 displaced in these two regions, which account for approximately 16% of the population. The Far North of Cameroon is also regularly the target of attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram.

"The February 9 election will not solve any problem, on the contrary, it will exacerbate the crisis," said Kamto.

"How can we go to the elections when the war continues and these war-torn populations cannot take part in the elections?" To do so would mean that we are effectively de facto partitioning the country, ”launched the MRC leader.

"I condemn all forms of violence wherever they come from" but "we must listen to English speakers including the extremists even if it means telling them you are going the wrong way," he said. "I am not, I will never be for the partition of Cameroon".

- Activists "detained" -

The special statute for the English-speaking regions, announced in December at the end of a great national dialogue, arrives "too late", denounced Mr. Kamto. "We do not believe that decentralization is an answer today".

The boycott decreed by the MRC, which was not followed by all the opposition parties, is also motivated by "the need to consensually reform the Cameroonian electoral system so as to agree on the rules of the game for avoid further post-election crises, "said Kamto.

In 2018, despite the violence in the English-speaking west, he had chosen to participate in the elections, and had established himself as the main opponent, far ahead of Joshua Oshi, candidate of the historic opposition party, the Social Democratic Front ( SDF).

Kamto always claims to have arrived at the head of the presidential election, officially won by the irremovable Paul Biya, 86 years old including 37 passed at the head of the country.

His denunciation of an electoral "hold-up" earned the opponent and several dozen of his supporters a detention of more than eight months, from January to October 2019, and an activity closely monitored since his release from prison.

"We cannot hold public meetings... everything is done to push us into radicalism", denounced Mr. Kamto who took advantage of his visit to Paris to hold a meeting on Saturday with the Cameroonian diaspora.

"There are still fifteen of our comrades who are in detention, including the 1st vice-president of the MRC, Mamadou Mota," he said. "We will fight to have all our unjustly detained comrades released."

If he says he is grateful to the international community, which pressed for his release, Maurice Kamto does not hide his reservations about certain positions in Paris.

"We do not perceive on the side of France this new policy which it has announced on several occasions vis-à-vis a certain number of regimes", he points out.

In a country where 85% of the population is under 35, “the future is in Cameroonian youth and they have expressed themselves repeatedly to say + we want change, we want to be able to designate our own leaders and hold them to account."

And to conclude: "If this were done, I believe that you would have fewer migrants in Europe, fewer young Cameroonians who die in the Sahara desert or the Mediterranean while trying to arrive in France".

Source; AFP