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SDF Now For Voter Registration: What Magnanimity! 

By Peterkins Manyong

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Transcendental Philosopher is undoubtedly a pillar of universal freethinking. Emerson is best remembered for his essay, "Self Reliance", in which he advises that we should not stick to an idea simply because we upheld it before.

"Society and the centuries are always in conspiracy against the individual," he says.
The philosopher is saying, in effect, that decisions are taken in reaction to prevailing circumstances. Once those circumstances change, the individual should not stick to the old decision because he is afraid of contradicting himself.

Last weekend’s decision by the SDF to end its non-participation and take part in voter registration is in line with Emerson’s philosophy. The party had presented to the Biya regime 11 recommendations to improve on the electoral process. The regime has fulfilled only two of them: the appointment of neutral personalities into ELECAM and the right of Diaspora Cameroonians to register and vote.

In life, it is always necessary to make concessions. We should not behave like ancient kings who lost the conquests they had made in war before in their covetous desire to acquire more. By fulfilling a few conditions, the Biya regime has acknowledged that something was wrong.

The decision that national identity cards should be free was also an SDF idea. For a system which is determined to perpetrate itself, change is certainly not one of its options. If the SDF persisted in its position of non-collaboration with ELECAM, it would have faltered. By changing its position the party has registered three significant achievements.

First, the party has proven that she is not intransigent. Flexibility is a very necessary ingredient in good governance. Human beings are different from robots. It is man’s capacity of thought that earned for him the appellation "homo sapien".

Secondly, the SDF would have been antagonising a reasonable percentage of her militancy if she never took the decision that they should register and vote. The SDF was launched on the platform of change.

Change at that time meant regime change, which implied Biya going. This perception has changed and Cameroonians, the SDF not exempted, have come to the rational conclusion that the Biya regime is like an AIDS virus that mutates. To kill the virus, the whole body must be destroyed.

So the human system has no choice than to live with it. Parliamentarians and Mayors, the real persons who sustain the SDF, want to maintain their positions, so they are for registration. Before the party took the decision, these elected officials had been secretly encouraging their supporters to register.

During the SDF 20th anniversary, Fru Ndi said the party had not stopped people from registering. Other party officials have since been reacting angrily each time there was a hint that the SDF would boycott the forthcoming Presidential Election.

"We say we are not boycotting," Beatrice Anembom Monju, SDF Communication Secretary, has told the press as often as the number of times journalists have brought up the issue. The point being made here is that SDF militants were not unanimous on the idea that the party should not take part in the Presidential or any future elections.

With NEC’s call for voter registration, militants can go about the exercise, not only without fear, but with the understanding that they are not doing so in vain. It is a very significant departure from the position that no election will hold in Cameroon with ELECAM in its present state.

A threat which the SDF hierarchy knew was not only beyond the bounds of probability, but of possibility. That is a more cumbersome way of saying that the party barons who conceived the idea did not believe in its workability.

The third significant achievement is that the SDF has now assumed its rightful position as the country’s front-line opposition party. The SDF can now implement the recommendation of US Ambassador, Robert P. Jackson, who called on Cameroonians to register, vote and protect their votes.

By that recommendation, Ambassador Jackson has acknowledged that his country knows the Biya regime is manned by kleptomaniacs, electoral cut-purses whom Cameroonians have always noted for stealing the people’s precious diadem (votes) and putting in their pockets.

With the revolutions in the Maghreb countries still in mind, the decision of the SDF to take part in the forthcoming Presidential Election means a popular uprising in Cameroon is nearer than Cameroonians are aware; it is an indisputable fact that over 90 percent of the wars and revolutions with which the world abound emanate from flawed elections.

The International Crisis Group, ICG, is quite unflattering in its report on Cameroon. The report warns of dire consequences if the Presidential Election of this year is rigged.

Why The Biya Regime May Not Escape Disaster

The essence of every election is to renew leadership or renew confidence in the prevailing leadership. The latter is possible only if the incumbent governed according to the wishes of the majority of the citizenship. A clear sign that an election is credible is when foreign business concerns come in and invest.

Since 1992, when the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, NDI, described the Presidential Election of that year as "badly flawed" no serious foreign investor has pitched camp in Cameroon. There have been five other elections since then and each one reignites this crisis of credibility. Proof that the regime knows it lacks legitimacy in the "Paul Biya: The People’s Call" cacophony.

The CPDM constitution has already established that the Chairman of the party is automatically the Presidential candidate. To make it appear as if the whole nation needs Biya, he and his spin-doctors conceived the idea of publishing supposed appeals from university professors, “buyam sellams” and other members of the civil society. Every rubber string has an elastic limit. Human patience also has its limit.


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