Flanked by the Minister of Communications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, the Minster Delegate in the Ministry of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, in charge of Justice, Prof. Maurice Kamto, and the Minister Delegate in the Ministry of External Relations in charge of the Commonwealth, Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, Eyebe read out his 14-page speech to diplomats who stood in one of the corridors in the Ministry.
In a tacit reference to the Vienna Convention of 1961, the Minister admonished the diplomats to respect Cameroon’s sovereignty. He warned them not to continue running their mouths in the press on issues that concern Cameroon as a sovereign State. He said government will not entertain any criticisms against ELECAM. What government expects from the Diplomatic Corps, he went on, is financial, material and logistical support for ELECAM.
In his monologue presentation, the Minister extolled the strong points of the law creating ELECAM, claiming that it is an independent electoral body par excellence but failed to point out its weaknesses. In a desperate bid to douse criticisms that most of those appointed to man ELECAM came from the ruling CPDM party, Eyebe Ayissi said since the people resigned from the party, they suddenly became independent personalities.
The fact that the 12 members of ELECAM took the oath office before the Supreme Court, the Minister insisted, is an engagement that enables them to organise free and fair elections.
He said ELECAM members are very keen about delivering the expected goods because, he claims, any of them who violates the oath they took will be prosecuted. The Minister said ELECAM members are truly independent. Minister Eyebe boasted that ELECAM enjoys financial autonomy and, so, government expects ELECAM members to fully embrace their responsibilities to merit the confidence of the Cameroonian people.
After listening to the menacing speech, many diplomats left visibly angry. The US Ambassador, Janet Garvey, the British High Commissioner, Syd Maddicott and the European Union Boss to Cameroon, Javier Puyol, left without taking part in what the Minister called "sharing a glass of wine’.
Most of the diplomats were visibly embarrassed by the government’s arrogant tone. One of them, who asked not to be named, told The Post, "what we are made to understand is that government badly needs our money to fund ELECAM and not our advice and observations".
He wondered what government is taking the diplomatic community for, because, it is warning diplomats with one hand against criticising ELECAM and at the same time begging for money with the other.
It would be recalled that the US Ambassador, the Dutch Ambassador, the British High Commissioner and the European Union Head to Cameroon expressed their disappointments at the calibre of people appointed to man ELECAM. The British High Commissioner, made it clear that his government will not give financial support to ELECAM until the outfit proves its credibility.
In a desperate attempt to garner credibility for ELECAM, The Post learnt, government caused a fake interview to be published in a French language weekly, Bebela. The interview, that was alleged to have been granted by the former Dutch Ambassador to Cameroon, Norbert Braakhuis, portrayed ELECAM in very positive terms.
But the current Dutch Ambassador, Saskia N. Bakler, told the press that her predecessor did not grant any such interview. She said she talked with her predecessor and he said he never granted any interview. Last week Saskia Batler confronted Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni and complained bitterly against such a manipulation.