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Why Administration Banned First-ever Authorised SDF March In Douala 

By Joe Dinga Pefok

SDF logo

The DO of Douala I, Jean Marie Tchakui, on October 12, issued the first-ever authorisation to the SDF party to organise a rally and public march in Douala on October 21, to demonstrate solidarity with the population of the two Anglophone Regions. But on October 19, the same DO issued another order banning the solidarity rally and public march.

According to the DO, he was forced to ban the event when the administration observed that the organisers “radically deviated from the officially declared objective of the events.” He said the declared objective of the SDF events as contained in the authorisation letter he signed was to manifest solidarity to the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

The DO said, after the administration issued the authorisation, a number of people, including some SDF officials, started saying completely different things in the media, including the social media.

The DO stated, for example, that some SDF officials had declared that the population will be sensitised on Federalism at the October 21 rally, whereas the Head of State has made it clear that there is no debate on the form of State. He also faulted the Littoral SDF Chairman for inviting other parties and associations to join in.

Decisions Taken By Hierarchy

Though the DO was the administrative authority that issued the authorisation to the SDF and was as well the authority who signed the banning order, the final decision in each of the two cases was made by hierarchy.

Prior to the banning of the SDF rally and public march, the Yaounde-based Director of External Research (DGRE), Senior Police Commissioner, Maxime Eko Eko, surprised Hon Nintcheu at his office in Douala V on Wednesday, October 18, and persuaded him to come along for a meeting with the Littoral Governor, Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua.

During the meeting that took place at the Governor’s Office at Bonanjo, Douala I, the Governor and the Chief of the Secret Service (DGRE) grilled Nintcheu on what they insisted was the real agenda of the planned rally and public march, as well as the involvement of some political parties and civil society groups. Nintcheu left the meeting thinking that he had reassured the authorities only to learn the next day that the DO signed an order banning the SDF event.

Spurious Claims

Boiling with anger, the Littoral SDF Chairman described the decision by the Biya regime to prohibit the holding of the SDF rally and public march as “total dictatorship”.

He said the reasons advanced by the DO for banning the event were “fallacious pretexts” and dismissed them as spurious. He accused the ruling CPDM of being behind the banning of the SDF event, and castigated the administration for allegedly receiving orders from the CPDM.

Nintcheu asserted that he did everything possible in a bid to obtain the authorisation for the rally and solidarity march. He said he had to accept a condition which was that he should sign an undertaking that the joint events would be peaceful.

On the decision to invite other political parties to join in the public rally march, Nintcheu retorted that that the Littoral CPDM Coordinator, Laurent Esso (Minister of Justice), invited other political parties to take part in the joint rally and pubic march which the CPDM organised in Douala on October 1 to manifest so called support for an indivisible Cameroon. He cited the case of the UFP Mayor of Yabassi, Jacques Mboya Maboula, who did not only attend the CPDM organised event on October I, but even made a speech.

About a dozen opposition parties and civil society organisations in Douala had separately announced that they would join the SDF in the October 21 solidarity march, namely Kah Walla’s CPP, Pierre Kwemo’s UMS, Mboua Massock’s NODYNA, as well as MANIDEM, PURS, USDP, UPC Fidèle among others.

Errors By SDF Officials

Some SDF officials as well as some officials of the opposition parties and civil society organisations that were to join the SDF solidarity march were also culpable for the decision by the administration to ban the event, as they committed some glaring errors.

They made pronouncements which the local administrative authorities that were seemingly under pressure to ban the SDF rally and march, could easily exploit to accuse the SDF of having deviated from the declared objective of the event.

In the morning of Wednesday, October 18, for example, the Chairman of the Douala V Electoral District of the SDF, Rodrigue Carlos Ngoualem, who is as well the Deputy Mayor of the Douala V Council, disclosed in a live telephone interview over Radio Equinoxe that one of the main issues that would be addressed at the SDF rally would be Federalism.

Ngoualem recalled that the Littoral SDF Chairman announced the holding of a rally in Douala last March 4, to sensitise the Francophone population in particular on the merits of a federal system of government.

But he regretted that the rally was banned by the local administration. He, however, said that the October 21 rally would be an opportunity for the SDF party to do what it was unable able to do last March 4.

Though political observers were in doubt that the SDF would address the issue of Federalism at the planned rally, it was thought that the party officials would have better been silent on the issue of Federalism until the event.

Coalition For 2018 Elections!

Albert Dzongang, a veteran politician based in Douala, has observed that Hon Nintcheu seemingly lost control of the situation when other opposition parties and civil society organisations joined the planned solidarity march.

The different political parties and civil society organisations were making uncoordinated and varied declarations to the media about the October 21 march.

Most of the political parties seemed to have had a different agenda which was to project themselves in preparation for the 2018 elections in the country.

Speculations made by quite a number of Francophone media organs when some opposition parties like the CPP, UMS and others declared that they had joined the SDF for the solidarity march, was that the coming together was the beginning of the creation of a new coalition of opposition parties for the 2018 elections in Cameroon.

Many of the bendskin riders and taxi men in Douala who were excited about the planned march were referring to it as a “March For Change”, instead of a march to show solidarity to the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions.