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SDF Gets First-ever Authorisation To March In Douala 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

Hon Nintcheu and supporters

The leading opposition party in Cameroon, the Social Democratic Front, SDF, has succeeded to squeeze out of the local administration the first-ever authorisation for the party to organise a public march in Douala.

The authorisation, which comes after over 27 years of SDF’s creation, permits the Littoral SDF to organise both a public rally and a public march, slated for Saturday, October 21, in the Douala I Municipality. The authorisation was issued on October 12 by the new DO of Douala I, Jean Marie Tchakui. The public march is for the Littoral SDF to manifest solidarity with the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions in the face of the Anglophone Crisis.

However, it is the same Tchakui who, as of DO Douala V, banned a similar rally and public march which the Littoral SDF scheduled for Bepanda Quarter a few months ago – on March 4. The DO, in typical manner of the local administrators in Douala, claimed that the SDF march posed a threat to public peace and order, and militarised the entire Douala V Municipality from Friday, March 3 to Monday, March 6, as a precautionary measure. The local administration did this even after the Littoral SDF Chairman had signed a communiqué on March 3 announcing the postponement of the rally.

The authorisation that has been signed by DO Tchakui is being described by officials of the Littoral SDF as historic, because, it is unprecedented in Douala. And apparently for the first time ever too, Hon Nintcheu, who has been the Littoral SDF Chairman for over 10 years, has congratulated a DO, for having mustered the courage to issue an authorisation to the SDF to organise the October 21 public march.

Stormy Working Sessions

However, the DO did not issue the authorisation to the SDF without attempting to put up some resistance. Nintcheu disclosed to The Post on October 13 that he and some of his close collaborators met DO Tchakui twice on the issue of the rally and public march for October 21. He said the meetings were really stormy as the DO said he was willing to grant an authorisation to the SDF to hold only a rally, not for a public march.

But Hon Nintcheu said the DO visibly found him in very difficult situation, because the Littoral CPDM, under its Regional Coordinator, Laurent Esso, who is also Minister of Justice, had, on Sunday, October 1, organised a rally at the Party House at Bonanjo, Douala I, which was followed by a public march. The march was purported to show solidarity with the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

It was after that CPDM event that the Littoral SDF Chairman announced that the party will organise a similar event, hoping that the local administration would authorise the SDF event to hold, just as they did with that of the CPDM.

So, the DO found himself in a tight corner when the Littoral SDF Chairman deposited the declaration to hold a public rally and a public march in Douala on October 21. During the working session with the DO, the SDF officials insisted to the DO that it was grossly unfair and unacceptable that the CPDM be authorised to organise an event in Douala, while the SDF is stopped from organising a similar march.

New Route For Public March

At the end of the debate, there was a sort of compromise between the two parties. The DO accepted that the SDF organise a public march, but changed the initial route that the party had chosen, to the ‘periphery’.

The SDF programme had showed that, after the rally at the esplanade of the Bepanda Omnisport Stadium, there will be a march passing through Carrefour Agip, through the main road in front of Mboppi Market, through Carrefour ‘Deux – Eglises’ (Akwa), ‘Douche Municipale’ (Akwa), part of the Ahmadou Ahidjo Boulevard to ‘Ancien Dalip’ (Akwa), and then end at ‘Salle des Fétes’ (Akwa).

The DO rejected that route on the pretext that the march will affect business activities in Mboppi and Akwa since the march will take place on a Saturday.
The DO insisted that the SDF march should end at ‘Ecole Pubique’ Deido.

SDF For Federalism

Though both the ruling CPDM and opposition SDF are talking of organising rallies and marches to show solidarity with the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions in the Anglophone Crisis, it is the message of the SDF that resonates with the Anglophones on the issue of the form of State. The majority of Anglophones are for a federal system of government.

But while the SDF is for a federal system of government, the CPDM is for decentralisation and the CPDM Government has persistently continued with a centralised system of government. The Head of State, Paul Biya, who is also the National President of the CPDM, has declared that even discussion on the form of State is out of the question.

Apparently, the SDF rally which was scheduled for March 4 in Douala was banned because Hon Nintcheu declared that the party was to sensitise the Francophone population on what federalism is all about, and why federalism is a good form of governance.

Anglophone Problem

While the SDF minces no words that there is an Anglophone Problem, the CPDM’s position is not very clear as party elite seem divided on the issue. The Littoral CPDM Coordinator, Laurent Esso, again declared at the October I CPDM rally in Douala that there is no Anglophone Problem. However another Littoral CPDM elite and member of the Central Committee, Prof Messanga Nyamding (a university don) openly disagreed with Esso right there, insisting that there is an Anglophone Problem in Cameroon.

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