By Nformi Sonde Kinsai
As incumbent and candidate for the CPDM party, Biya Paul, was, October 22, being proclaimed winner by the Constitutional Council, security in the city of Yaounde was on red alert.
The last October 7, 2018 Presidential election in Cameroon saw the participation of eight other candidates, notably: Prof. Maurice Kamto, Libii Li Ngue Ngue Cabral, Joshua Osih Nambangi, Serge Espoir Matomba, Franklin Ndifor Afanwi, Ndam Njoya Adamou, Muna Akere Tabeng and Garga Haman Adji.
Ever since one of the candidates at the election, Prof. Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, declared on October 8 at a press conference in Yaounde that: “Cameroonians gave him the mandate and that he kicked and scored the penalty,” the Yaounde CPDM political elite and allies interpreted such a move to mean that he declared himself winner of the Presidential election.
By that token, and according to the Secretary General of the CPDM Central Committee, Jean Nkueté, who granted a press briefing that same October 8, the act by Prof. Kamto was tantamount to calling on Cameroonians to go down to the streets to protest and claim an imaginary victory. The CPDM party elite and members of the G20 multiplied attacks on the CRM candidate, accusing him of prompting an insurrection.
They insisted that Presidential election results in Cameroon are proclaimed by the Constitutional Council following Section 137 of the Electoral Code. But during hearings of the post-election litigations at the Constitutional Council, Prof. Kamto told the court that his declaration of October 8 was not in defiance of the rights and prerogatives of the Constitutional Council, but was based simply on Section 113 of the Electoral Code which states that “once counting is over, the results obtained in each polling station shall be proclaimed.”
As the debate was raging on, coupled with hearings of post-election litigations at the Constitutional Council with the parties presenting arguments for or against the partial or total cancellation of the Presidential election, a mixed squadron of anti-riot police and gendarmes were deployed to all the major junctions of the capital city of Yaounde. As the days were closing up to the October 22 proclamation of the election results, the security disposition was beefed up.
Besides the combat-ready security operatives stationed at the major junctions of the town, anti-riot police and gendarmerie equipment, including water cannons, popularly called “Abraham” were displayed probably to wade off “trouble makers.” Neighbourhoods dominantly inhabited by the Anglophones and the Bamilekes, from all observations, had stronger security deployment.
Another scaring move observed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning by this reporter, as well as many other denizens of Yaounde, was the patrol in the city of military men and women armed to the teeth. The impression that was being given was that the city of Yaounde was under threat of an attack by a very “dangerous enemy.”
Some bike riders who ply from the Centre Handicapé and Entrée Simbock junctions into the neighbourhoods told The Post that they were being chased away by the security forces. They explained that they were being prohibited from grouping in large numbers. They said they were hinted that if the instructions are not followed, the security agents will break such groupings by force, irrespective of whether they were planning street demonstrations or not.
A friendly security officer, who was manning one of the patrol teams and who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Post that in matters of ensuring public security and order, nothing is taken for granted. He said the security measures put in place were to pre-empt any eventuality, considering the tense post-election atmosphere Cameroon is witnessing.
“We are out to protect the republican institutions. Let parents advise their children not to get themselves involved in any street demonstrations,” he simply told The Post and refused to comment further.
The Post, however, gathered that the security measures put in place will remain as stiff till mid November when the newly (re)elected President, Paul Biya, would have taken the oath of office.
According to Section 140 (1) of the Electoral Code, “the President-elect shall assume office once he or she takes the oath within no less than 15 (fifteen) days of the proclamation of the results by the Constitutional Council.
Sub 2 of that Section states that: “He shall take oath of office before the Cameroonian people in the presence of Members of Parliament, the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Court, meeting in solemn session in the manner and words prescribed herein under:
“The President of the National Assembly shall administer the oath following a short address which he shall conclude in the following established form:
“Mr. President of the Republic, do you pledge yourself on your honour to faithfully perform the duties entrusted to you by the people, and do you solemnly swear before God and all men to devote all your efforts to preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Cameroon, to watch over the commonwealth of the Nation, and to uphold and defend the unity, integrity and independence of the Cameroon Fatherland?
“The President-elect, standing, raising his right hand and facing the Members of Parliament, the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Court, shall pledge himself by answering:
“I so do swear.”