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SDF Rejects ELECAM, To Designate Presidential Candidate: What Contradiction! 

By Peterkins Manyong

The right to change one’s mind is one of the most fundamental human rights.
It was in recognition of this right that Ralph Waldo Emerson, American transcendental philosopher, wrote his treatise," Self Reliance". In it, he regrets the fact that history and society are always in conspiracy against the individual, obliging him to stick to a particular idea for fear of contradicting himself.

What Emerson is saying is that an individual should be flexible and change his mind if he has sufficient reasons to believe that his previous opinion was faulty. However, when the change of mind becomes too frequent, inconsistency is perceived where the intention was to demonstrate flexibility.

Last Saturday, the SDF, Cameroon’s frontline opposition party, did something really scandalous. The party, which had declared it was not going to take part in elections in Cameroon with ELECAM in its present state, announced that in February 2011, it will designate its candidate for the 2011 Presidential Election. This pronouncement followed the tabling before Cameroonians and the international community of 11 pre-conditions without the fulfillment of which she would not take part in any election.

In fairness to John Fru Ndi and his collaborators, the adoption of the points would transform ELECAM into a truly independent election managing body. This column has stated several times and without any equivocation that ELECAM is a scheme to hoodwink Cameroonians and the international community into believing that future  elections would be transparent, free and fair.

The 11 points were therefore a welcome development which the SDF candidacy pronouncement has watered down. It is like hunting with the hunters and running with the hare, as the hackneyed saying goes. We understand the predicament of the SDF. The party is aware that taking part in elections is countenancing electoral malpractices. As a party launched on the platform of change, it shouldn’t be the SDF to do that.

Unfortunately, not all SDF militants see things the way the party hierarchy does. Like a majority of Cameroonians, they don’t want Biya and his regime, at least for the simple fact that they have been around for pretty too long. But politics being what it is, it is not surprising that those SDF militants who occupy seats in parliament and the councils would want to continue reaping the pecuniary benefits that accrue from these two institutions. They know Biya as a very obstinate person who would go ahead with elections with or without the SDF and even if only one million persons are registered.

They, therefore, don’t see Biya bowing to SDF’s request because he had ignored similar requests in the past. The SDF, by tabling these points, was banking on the fact that with the recent publication of  census results, and the fact that 9 million people need to take part in elections for them to be credible. But those who know Biya well also know that when his political survival is concerned, the opposition and the international community can rot for all he cares.

It was this thinking that sparked a heated debate in NEC. Many NEC members, who wanted the SDF to take part in voter registration being conducted by ELECAM, argued that the international community can only condemn electoral malpractices the time they occur. The moment the agitations are over, they resume dealing with the same regime which they had termed illegal, but can’t go a step further. What alternative plan does the SDF have if the party is opposing participation in elections under ELECAM?

Kah Walla, promoter of Cameroon O’Bosso, was of the opinion that a party militant should behave like a hunter or like every duty conscious soldier. That it is better for a hunter or a soldier to go to the forest or to a battlefront with a loaded gun, but decide not to open fire, than go there with an empty gun and rush back for his weapon when the animal had escaped. That was a metaphorical way of saying that SDF militants should have their voters’ cards first, even if the Party is not taking part in the election.

But Fru Ndi and supporters argued that it should be ELECAM bothering itself about elections, not the SDF. That statement sounds as if the SDF is indifferent to elections. But nothing is further from the truth. Beatrice Anembom Monju, the party’s Communication secretary, told The Post that the SDF has no intention of boycotting the 2011 Presidential Election or any other election. She was convinced that with enough pressure the Biya regime would yield to most of SDF’s demands.

Anembom also denied that there is any contradiction in NEC’s decision; that the SDF will designate her Presidential candidate in February. The SDF is undoubtedly Cameroon’s leading party in terms of mobilisation and following. Its approach to issues should serve as a source of inspiration to other parties. Ideologically, the SDF is centuries ahead of the ruling CPDM. The ruling party cannot deny that most of the ideas that have helped sustain her in power come from the SDF.

The fact that Biya is still not confident of ELECAM, despite its domination by the CPDM, and had to bring back MINATD into election organization is ample proof of the fear he has for the SDF. The delay and cacophony over his trip to Bamenda as well as the appointment of Paul Nji Atanga, a Northwesterner as Permanent Secretary of the National Security Council, further attest to this fear.

At the time of filing this report, this analyst learnt from CRTV that Fru Ndi would be leading a delegation to the Yaounde ELECAM headquarters for consultation by weekend. No piece of information could be more heartwarming to an electorate that has never enjoyed the sweet sensation of seeing their vote given the value it deserves. 

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