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Cameroon Is Ripe For Revolution – Barrister Taku 

Interviewed By Azore Opio

Legal luminary, International Lawyer and Lead Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, unreservedly answered questions on the current uprisings in the north of Africa, the direction the wave might take and said Cameroon is slouching, slowly but surely, towards a catastrophe, if elections are held under the existing constitution. Read on:  

The Post: Recent uprisings in North Africa ejected Ben Ali of Tunisia and knocked-out Hosni Mubarak of Egypt; both long reigning dictatorships. The uprising has settled in Libya with Muammar Kaddafi holding tight to the reigns of a 42-year-old dictatorship; what would you say about all this?

Barrister Charles Taku: Well, these are the logical consequences of failed economic policies, excessive regimes and dictatorships. To be more specific, there is no doubt that this wave is coming towards southern Africa, and that not long from now, the dictatorships that have been in power for so many years will be the next port of call.

I think the popular uprising is also the logical consequence of societies that have weak political institutions and weak opposition. Like in the case of Cameroon, where we have very weak opposition, the power automatically lies in the hands of the public; the masses. And therefore, any time from now, when it comes to Cameroon, that trend will be very, very visible. It is inevitable.

You just mentioned the opposition and this is an election year in Cameroon, what chances does the opposition have against the incumbent regime?

The situation in Cameroon is ripe for a revolution. I myself am still very skeptical whether the election will hold, and if it will hold, whether the election will produce a result that will be acceptable to the people.

If we are not careful, the campaigns and the election process itself might not mobilise the masses in order to take back power which rightly belongs to them. I think what we call opposition parties in Cameroon were created in a manner intended to sustain a dictatorship. We have 254 political parties or more, as the case may be; some of them were components of the CPDM which is in power.

And also, we should take note of 2008 when the masses took to the streets in Cameroon. That was an indicator; it was successful, although it was suppressed. If 2008 replicates itself today, that would be the end of the regime. And I think that there is still time for Government to do one thing, and that one thing is for Mr. Biya to step down.

There is a wide consensus that the problems of Cameroon are neither the problem of the opposition nor of the CPDM; the problems of Cameroon are one man, Mr. Paul Biya and I think the defection of Paul Ayah, and those who might follow him, has come to prove that there is consensus building that the problem is Biya, and if Biya steps down, then, Cameroon might avoid a calamity. But if he insists on remaining in power, it will lead the country into total chaos.

In the 2004 Presidential election, there was a futile attempt at forming an opposition coalition, do you see any possibility of forming one now?

The 2004 attempt failed because the opposition ignored the civil society. That coalition failed because the Biya regime managed to infiltrate the so-called political parties that were in the coalition.

The possibility of forming a coalition is just not there. One of the reasons is that Government has appropriated the CPDM an enormous amount of people’s money with which it is prepared to use to corrupt some of the politicians to ensure that the coalition does not work. However, with the defection of Ayah, with the rise of people like Christopher Fomunyoh who are new faces on the political scene; there is every indication that, given time, they could build a viable opposition force that could rescue the country.

Do you see the Presidential election holding this year in Cameroon?

If you see the constitution in Cameroon, which was tailored to eternalise Biya in power and what the so-called opposition and the civil societies have become, any elections conducted in Cameroon without a new constitution will never produce democracy. It will be a charade; that is why many people will go the Ivorian way because the constitutional framework to organise elections is not true. Another component is poverty. There are so many jobless people.

Let’s talk about the Southern Cameroons’ or Anglophone problem; how far has the struggle gone and are you any nearer victory today than yesterday?

We have scored a number of successes both on the international front and also back home. Sometime ago you saw the mobilisation when the African Commission on Human Rights came to Buea; we were fully in control of the territory and our people were fully mobilised.

On the international scene, I must say one thing; as far as international legality is concerned, the Cameroon Government, after the judgment of the African Commission, has shied away; she has virtually escaped from dialogue, she doesn’t have the courage to face us, sit at table and discuss the issues. The Cameroon Government stands on shaky grounds when it comes to the legality of her actions.

During the Southwest Mega Forum that held in Buea a few months ago, the Fon of Fontem made the most valid contribution by saying that the 50th anniversary of the so-called reunification should be held in Buea and pointed out facts, statistics and the law to support it, and this was adopted by that forum.

But the shock of it is this; because the Government is quite aware of the illegality of her action that La République merely colonised our territory, they will never, never come to Buea to celebrate the reunification. If reunification existed at all and there was a union between two territories, the Cameroon Government would be proud and be the first to come here and celebrate that historic moment.

The second point is this; not long from now, Mr. Biya and the Cameroon Government will start telling the people that the 50th anniversary of reunification was celebrated together with the 50th anniversary of the independence of La République du Cameroun in Yaounde, in May last year.

This dishonesty would show that Biya and the Government of Cameroon are frauds in the reality of the history of the country. If they were sincere, they would be the first to come to the peak of Mt. Fako and proclaim to the world that, here is the treaty we signed with the Southern Cameroons.

Having failed to do so and shying away from reality, further convinces the people that there was an annexation. When Biya refuses to come to Buea to celebrate the 50th anniversary of reunification, that will be time for the Southwest Forum to take note and massively mobilise the people to join us on October 1 to celebrate the independence of Southern Cameroons.

The African Union has already recongised us as a people and African heads of state have endorsed that position and, therefore, the Cameroon Government should at least respect the position of that legality; that is, it should allow people to turn out massively to celebrate the Southern Cameroons independence.