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Mila Assouté Defeats Fear To Challenge Biya 

Chief Milla Assoute
Chief Mila Assouté seems to have defeated fear and is now ready to take on Mr. Paul Biya, the sitting Cameroon Head of State in the 2018 Presidential election. Once seemingly paralysed by the fear of challenging the President who has held a strangle hold on the nation for over three decades, the former CPDM Central Committee member is relishing his new found courage. After 12 years in political exile in France, Mila Assouté has woken up to a ‘new dawn’ without the sit-tight syndrome that has plagued Cameroon for decades. In this exclusive interview, Chief Mila bares his mind to The Post’s Barnabas Fang Mbonde on how tragic it is that Cameroon has continued to lag behind other African nations in all areas of human development, because of the poverty of leadership brought upon it by a sit-tight leader who lacks the vision and drive to transform the country. He says that Biya, at the age of 84, rather than groom new leadership and transfer power to a new generation of leaders, is not yet ready to relinquish power.

The Post: Who is Chief Mila Assouté?

Mila Assouté: I am the Paramount Chief of the Mbo people of Sandjo in Santchou Subdivision of the West Region. I am a descendant of the Ngo’oh of the Sawa lineage, covering the Littoral, West and the Southwest Regions. I have been MP in Cameroon. I led a United States-based NGO in Cameroon and I have been a consultant to the Ministry of Defence and at the General Secretariat of the Presidency of Cameroon. At the time of my resignation from the CPDM to found the Democratic Movement for a Modern Cameroon, DMMC, I was a member of the Central Committee of the CPDM. I am a consultant to several banks in Europe and other places. I have been in political exile in France for 12 years. I left Cameroon when my life was threatened on several occasions for trying to reform the CPDM from within with great personalities like Chief Akanang, Derek Dzeka Tangwa, Cabral Libi, Yerima Oumara, Mve Elemva Rene Bonono Bakota, David Kaptoum, Dr. Leopold Njuompang, Dr. Paul Abouna, just to name a few. Today, I am an Honorary Professor at several universities and a Financial Adviser to a petroleum company in a Central African State not far from Cameroon. I have submitted my file for the Presidential race twice, in 2004 and in 2011, but my candidacy has always been blatantly rejected. In 2004, it was the Presidential security that removed documents from my file.

You are the head of the DMMC, how is the movement faring? Is it well implanted in Cameroon?

DMMC is very well implanted, but its activities are silenced by threats that our militants and sympathisers have suffered. In 2011, we had militants at all ELECAM offices all over the country. This created fear and pushed them to reject my candidacy, threatening my militants and corrupting the most vulnerable. But the party is ready for the next Presidential election; be it in 2018 or precipitated!

After your speech in which you declared that you will risk your life to save Cameroon from predators, and which The Post paraphrased and published, what next?

DMMC will deploy its militants all over the national territory and prepare our congress. It was already to hold but for inconveniences caused by my being in exile. Then the party will prepare my return to the country to face the political struggle on the field. I have decided to overcome the fear of terror and return home. Babies now die in the wombs of their mothers, so dying at my age for the freedom of my country is a price I am ready to pay.

CPDM militants have, once again, come out calling for their Chairman to run for another mandate as President. Are you surprised?

Honestly, I am surprised, but not astonished. A party that only works to share public assets cannot nurse any high ambitions nor have people able to serve the nation with no obscure interests.

How important is it to have two Parliamentary Houses in Cameroon?

Looking at the way our country is governed, the Parliamentary Houses are of no importance. We can call them retirement homes for some State big wigs and impostors. Our money is being used to pay these people for nothing. The two Parliamentary Chambers resemble advisory committees

Would you support another political party if it approached you for collaboration? If no, why?

A political party must build alliances. We are and have been working with other political parties. We would not agree to work with those who do cheap negotiations at the expense of the people.

Do you expect to beat incumbent Biya at the 2018 Presidential election, considering that the rigging machinery is very deeply rooted and widespread?

If I am a candidate of my party in a fair and transparent election, Mr. Biya will not even occupy second place after my score. We are preparing to win the election with our youth and we will win in a loyal or disloyal manner. It all depends on how ELECAM will define the rules. We will see how 84-year-old Biya will win this election with a predominantly youthful population.

Do you have a problem with the Senate or Parliament changing the Constitution to make it easier for a Head of State to cling to power?

They are recording rooms comprised mostly of the corrupt individual who play dirty tricks. Moreover, consulting them is just for formality. Their decisions don’t count at Etoudi.

You contested Presidential election twice and lost…

I have never lost! Twice, I have been denied the opportunity to face Biya. This is proof of the fear they have for our project and the fear of my ability to convince and enlighten Cameroonians. They prefer to keep people in the dark with no political charisma.

Imagine that you are the President of Cameroon; how would you navigate the turbulent maze of corruption, bribery, graft, neglect, wastefulness, hypocrisy, intrigue…?

If elected, we will put a stop to this widespread disorder in which our country has been immersed. The corruption is because of letting go corruption… a twisted mind that plays with the Constitution of his country all the time. Can he really fight people without ethics? To combat corruption, one must be free of suspicion. The law becomes frail and weak when it becomes selective. A country is its laws.

Do you have any plan laid out on how to salvage Cameroon from the dark hole of chaos it has fallen in?

The country needs to regain confidence in its leader who must be courageous, young and smart. I have twelve Herculean projects to realise. We must get people to work, especially the youths, women and the peasants. We must resolve water and energy crises all over the country. There is need for an urgent reformation of civic education and most importantly the health system. The country must open up to a rapid industrialisation by allowing nationals to assimilate and control the main levers of the economy of their country in various social fields…We need economic and financial reforms, extensive security reforms in the army and the other peace-keeping forces and a specialised information service. All these coupled with massive quality training will help restore confidence. With security worries dissipated, the country will be placed on the path of rapid progress. This is the only way to the long awaited emergence. Our country must pacify its borders and social tensions by promoting the culture of excellence and create a new relationship between the society and the Sate by giving the civil society and the private sector responsibilities that will permit them carry out developmental projects in their different sectors.

What do you advise fellow Cameroonians to do to send Biya on a well-deserved peaceful retirement?

Youths of voting age from all parts of the country must register massively on electoral lists. They have to control the votes to reclaim their country that has fallen into the hands of an irresponsible Mr. Biya, who has refused to go on retirement. I would fight to restore this country to young people who have things to prove to their nation. To place our country in the realm of modern and developed nations, we have to send Mr. Biya and his band to Europe where they habitually spend their vacation. The youths need to know that an autocrat can only be forced to quit power. If the youths don’t fight hard to oust them, they will hang on till death.

In July 2012 in an interview, you mentioned that the then Transport Minister, Issa Tchiroma, received some money and a Mercedes Benz for giving a contract for the maintenance of CAMAIR planes to South Africa Airways…

It is the truth. Does he deny it? I have proof of this.

In the same interview, you said you “informed President Biya and proposed that he follows up SAA to reclaim the US$65 million that CAMAIR had disbursed in 1994 within the context of the execution of the maintenance contract, was that money ever recovered?

Yes, it is also the truth. I was the one who discovered the case in South Africa and I asked Mr. Biya to look into the situation and recover the US$65 million defrauded from the defunct CAMAIR. That money was paid by SAA to Cameroon. But the money went into private accounts under the signature of Jean Fouman Akame in Paris at the Société Generale des Banques Boulevard Haussman. With his friends, they embezzled this money at the expense of the public treasury. Yet it is same man who rides in the Presidential palace of Cameroon, a temple of violence of all sorts on Cameroonians. I have no fear in saying it. They embezzled all of the money. Marafa acknowledged this when he started writing letters from custody. Sadly, no investigation is open in this matter.

Are you surprised by the number of top Government officials who have been jailed for various corruption and embezzlement crimes?

No Cameroonian is surprised. What is surprising is the criteria they use to choose the answers for the actions for which they are accused. What is surprising is having some free when, in fact, they have to be arrested. If Article 66 of our Constitution on the declaration of assets was respected, would Mr. Biya justify the origin of his assets?

What do you think should be done to rid Cameroon of deep-rooted corruption, political disenfranchisement and economic decline?
Chief Milla Assoute

We assess the general state of corruption and agree so the embezzlers restore the money or invest it for the progress of the country. The law should be reinforced starting from Article 66. Embezzlers should be punished and corrupt practices sanctioned at the level of the administration. Some administrative -judicial statute – structures are needed. I will unveil this during the election campaigns.

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