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SDF Now Has Access To Decision-makers In France – Osih 

Interviewed by Joe Dinga Pefok

CameroonPostline.com — The National Vice Chairman of the SDF, Joshua Osih, has said that for the first time since the SDF was created, they now have direct access to the powers-that-be in France because both the Presidency and the Senate will be under the control of the Socialist Party following the election of Francois Hollande on May 6, 2012.

Osih: SDF National Vice Chairman

Both the Socialist Party in France and the SDF are members of Socialist International, and enjoy a warm relationship. In this exclusive interview, Osih also talked about the relationship between France and Cameroon, the Socialist International and the letter which the SDF National Chairman, John Fru Ndi, sent to the new French President.     

The Post: What is your reaction to the election of a socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, as President of France?

Joshua Osih: Well, the election of Francois Hollande shows that social democracy is the way and the future. The election shows that the French people decided to change from the conservative government. It shows that the world is evolving. I am proud to see that a comrade of ours (Socialist International) won the election in France and that democracy was preserved in that country.

A socialist government is due to take over power in France on May 15, 2012. What are the expectations of the SDF from this government?

There are no special expectations. The SDF and the Socialist Party in France have the same political agenda, and so we are better understood by them. We have direct access to the President-elect of France, just as we used to have direct access to him when he was the First Secretary of the Socialist Party. We have a very good working relationship with his Socialist Party, and I think that will help things for Cameroon and Cameroonians, and for France and the French. We will try to make better use of that good relationship for a better relationship between our two countries.

Having said this, you do not have to forget that Mr. Hollande is President of France and the French people and he has a programme. We believe that he will be there to defend the French interest with a social democratic agenda, while we will on our part continue defending the interest of the Cameroonian people with a social democratic agenda.

If it is all about the Socialist Party in France defending the French interest, and the SDF defending Cameroonian’s interest, then what difference does the change of Government in France actually make to you?

There is a big difference. It is interesting to note that it is the first time in the life of our party which was launched in 1990, that both the Presidency and the Senate are social democrats in France. This makes it such that we have direct access to decision makers in France. That notwithstanding, our problem is that we still need to fight for democracy. I think Mr. Hollande is very aware of the situation in our country. He said he will not tolerate dictators or people who got wrongly elected into power, and I think it will be a tough thing for Mr. Biya to deal with.

In fact, we have discussed the problems of Cameroon with him a number of times, in his capacity as First Secretary of the Socialist Party. His team is very well versed with the problems in Cameroon. Some of his closest collaborators have been here and have seen problems first hand, have met with our National Chairman. So they really know where we are coming from, what our struggle is, and where we want to take Cameroon.

With your friends now coming to power in France, what issues will you expect the new French Government to tackle as regards the Biya regime? 

Top on the agenda of the new French President is to handle the high unemployment rate in France, to handle the European situation, to work for the reindustrialisation of France, to work to lower the gap between those who make much money and those who work and are poor. This is the agenda on which he got elected.

There is no priority in that agenda to kick away dictators. But now, Mr. Hollande’s agenda will not be fulfilled, if he does not live up to the expectations of the social democratic family, namely to take very strong positions against dictators who got wrongly elected. But let me make it clear that we do not go to France, United States, Germany, Japan or whichever country because we cannot handle our problems ourselves.

Rather, we go there simply because we have understood in the past two decades that the only thing Mr. Biya is afraid of is his image outside of Cameroon. I think today there is nothing we have to do on that behalf. We do not have to go to France to tell them who Mr. Biya is. They know him just as well as we know him. Also, Mr. Biya knows his friends are no longer in power in France.  

So, how do you for see the bilateral ties between Cameroon and France under the Socialist Government, as well the relationship between Biya and President Hollande? 

We do not have to underestimate the fact that bilateral ties between France and Cameroon are between two countries. And when countries deal with each other, emotions are not part of the transactions. Rather, it is always in the supreme interest of both countries, though unfortunately it is not always the case with Cameroon. So whatever will have to be done between France and Cameroon to get into a win-win relationship, will be done.

Talking about the relationship between the two Presidents, I do not see Mr. Hollande sending troops to kick away Mr. Biya as some people might think. However, I see Mr. Hollande telling Mr. Biya to his face to take up his responsibility, and may be, not go the extra diplomatic mile Mr. Sarkozy was taking.

We have been made to understand that the SDF has sent a letter to Mr. Hollande. Can we have an idea of the content?

Well, it is a congratulatory message between two comrades; that is Fru Ndi and Francois Hollande, who know each other. It is a congratulatory message from the Social Democratic Front in Cameroon to the Socialist Party in France. It is normal procedure.

In some countries, we are called up by our fellow comrades there, to help them during their elections, and we even stay there until the results are released. In other countries where we have comrades, we are not physically present, but we make sure they get to know that we stayed with them in our minds and in our prayers. So the letter you have mentioned is not special.

It has not been sent because it is France. It is an exercise that the National Chairman of our party undertakes a couple of times a year. Just this year, I think the message sent to Mr. Hollande should be the sixth or seventh congratulatory message from the SDF that has gone to a fellow comrade or party in another country. 

How is Socialist International faring?

Socialist International is doing fine. It is an organisation of social democratic parties the world over, with more than 200 members, and more than 60 percent of them are in power today. If you take the case of majority seats, more than 50 percent are in power today. So Socialist International is doing abundantly fine.