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UPC Splinters into More Factions 

By Joe Dinga Pefok
. — A bitter conflict over who leads late Augustin Frederic Kodock’s faction of the Union des Populations du Cameroon, UPC, has led to the creation of more factions.

Papy Doumbe

Militants who thought that the passing away, late last year of Kodock, the leader of one of the major factions of the UPC, would bring reconciliation are rather disappointed. The two factions that have emerged are said to be secretly lobbying the CPDM Government for support against each other. There are indications that the leadership conflict might end up in court.

Kodock legalised the UPC in 1991 and, throughout, insisted that all the other UPC factions were illegal. He also, in 1993, registered the name UPC as a trademark with the Organisation of Intellectual Property Rights, OAPI, with headquarters in Yaounde. UPC was registered as a cooperative society, with registration number 10774.

These issues underlie the fierce battle as to who is to be recognised as the right successor of late Kodock. The person who succeeds to make himself to be officially recognised by the Government as the constitutional successor of Kodock will claim that his faction is the legalised UPC, and thus the only one that should be accepted to run for elections in the country.

The Camps

The story goes that when Kodock, who was the Secretary General of his UPC faction died, the Deputy Secretary General, Barrister Thomas Biyik, assumed the post of Interim Secretary General. Biyik and his supporters insisted that he was the constitutional successor of the legalised faction of the UPC. He did not look interested in the call for the unity of UPC factions, after Kodock`s death.

But, the National Communication Secretary of Kodock’s UPC faction, Adolphe Joseph Doumbe aka Papy Doumbe, thought otherwise. Papy Doumbe, who does not hide his ambition to enter the Government, saw himself as the ‘natural’ successor.

Meantime, during Kodock’s last days, Papy Doumbe was already projecting himself as the ‘heir apparent’, and had gone to the extent of issuing a communiqué in the name of UPC, pledging support for President Biya at the October 9, 2011 Presidential Election. Kodock countered the communiqué on his dying bed. That did not stop Papy Doumbe from issuing another one later, congratulating Biya for his victory in the election.  

Another faction that emerged after Kodock’s death was led by the head of the Judicial Committee of the party. The camp’s ambition is to drag the Kodock faction towards unity with the conservative UPC faction, known as UPC Mack-Kit. But the members of this group are comparatively fewer and thus have little impact on the fight for leadership.

Douala Congress

Following the death of Kodock, Barrister Biyik convened a meeting of the Political Bureau of the party. Papy Doumbe reportedly did not attend the meeting. Instead, he was one of the key persons that convened a meeting in Yaounde to unite the two rival UPC factions that had been collaborating with the Biya regime; the Kodock and the faction led by Prof. Henri Hogbe Ndlend, who, like Kodock, had been a member of the Biya Government. 

The main target of the organisers of the meeting was to unite the UPC for the Legislative and Municipal elections which were, then, expected to hold latest August 2012.  Papy Doumbe claimed at the meeting that he was the new leader of UPC-Kodock. The highly mediatised Yaounde meeting quickly scheduled the holding of the congress of a “unified” UPC, in Douala. Some other smaller factions like that which was led by Woungly Massaga, aka Colonel Kisamba, also joined in.

Posts Shared

The “unified” UPC congress held in Douala last month and set up a large bureau of over 50 members to run the party. The bureau was expanded in a bid to satisfy all the UPC factions that participated, but the key posts were retained by the brains behind the congress. The ceremonial post of President of UPC went to Basile Louka, while the powerful post of Secretary General went to Papy Doumbe.

Hogbe Ndlend got the less active post of First Adviser, while, one of his long time close collaborators, Charlie Gabriel Mbock, got the post of National Secretary for Communication and the official spokesman for the party.       

The congress came out with two main resolutions: first; that the new Political Bureau should continue with moves to unite the UPC by bringing onboard those still dragging their feet, second; that the congress had authorised the new Political Bureau to lead UPC to participate in the Legislative and Municipal elections.

Bickering Between Camps

Meanwhile, Barrister Biyik has declared that the Douala congress was illegal and that the resolutions were thus null and void. He also argued that the new Political Bureau to which Papy Doumbe is Secretary General is fake.

Biyik’s camp has convened their congress for April 21.  He has stressed that, according to the constitution of the UPC, it is the Political Bureau that convenes the party’s congress. He has questioned which Political Bureau convened the Douala congress. Biyik has vowed that he and his supporters will ensure that the constitution of the legalised UPC is respected, and has called on the Government to take note of the illegality of the Douala congress that held last month.

On the other hand, the spokesperson of the Papy Doumbe camp, Mbock, has cautioned the Government not to allow itself to be misled into trying to stand on the way of the unified UPC party, for the consequences will be grievous. The CPDM Government itself is said to be confused with the unfolding drama. It is feared that the CPDM Government may play the situation to its advantage.

Hon Joseph Sende Silent 

Hon Dr. Joseph Sende, Kodock’s most trusted collaborator, who entered Parliament in 1992 on the UPC list which Kodock headed and whose name Kodock put as the representative of UPC in the OAPI registration, has been silent over the conflict.

It is alleged that he is working to come up with his own UPC faction and claim legality, based on the OAPI document. Meanwhile, the conservative faction commonly known as UPC Mack-Kit has been insisting that it is the only legitimate UPC, and that all the other factions are agents of the Biya regime.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01334


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