Police clampdown on Kamto supporters
By Atia Tilarious Azohnwi
Anti-riot police on Saturday arrested around 50 supporters of opposition figure Maurice Kamto during an unauthorised march in Douala, Kamto’s spokesperson said.
“Mass arrests of activists – Barrister Michele Ndoki and around 50 others – and of supporters demonstrating peacefully today,” the spokesperson, Olivier Bibou-Nissack, said in a Facebook post.
His boss Kamto has rejected the official outcome of this month’s presidential election, in which he was one of seven candidates seeking to unseat 85-year-old President Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon for 36 years.
In the end, Kamto came second with 14.23% the vote, against 71.28% for Biya.
Michele Ndoki is one of his lawyers who protested before the Constitutional Council against what she called “massive and systematic fraud” during the election. The firebrand lawyer was pictured being forced into a gutter by baton-wielding police officers before being ferried along with others to the Judicial Police station in Bonanjo Douala.
Bibou-Nissack said the headquarters of Kamto’s party, Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), had been vandalised.
The building was cordoned off by police who stopped anyone from approaching, reports said.
On Friday, Minister Paul Atanga Nji warned that “any attempts to disturb the public order will be met with the greatest firmness.“ He said the electoral period has been closed and as such, all political rallies must be backed by authorisation from competent authorities.
“It is incumbent on me, in my capacity as Minister of Territorial Administration, to recall that with the proclamation of the results of the October 7, 2018 Presidential election on October 22, 2018, the election process is over,” Atanga Nji declared.
He said all public manifestations will henceforth be regulated by the rules and regulations in force and violators will face the law. “Being a candidate in a Presidential election or member of a political party doesn’t give immunity,” he added.
Minister Atanga Nji told the media men and women that the election held under the best possible conditions and respected internationally acceptable standards. He also saluted the people of Cameroon for showing proof of maturity by not giving ear to the numerous calls for the destabilisation of the country.
He however regretted the “illegal and anti constitutional declarations” of one the candidates who took part in the Presidential race. Besides “proclaiming himself winner of the election even before the constitutional Council, the only competent organ to declare election results”, the candidate also “contested the verdict” of the council.
The Minister of Territorial Administration noted that “the candidate (Kamto) and his followers never stopped multiplying provocations and other dangerous acts on social peace by attempting to organise insurrections”.
He also warned that “many of their acts and declarations contravene existing laws notably dispositions of the Penal Code and the anti-terrorism law which punishes acts like terrorism and incitation to rebellion”.
He insisted that henceforth, “all attempts to disrupt public order will be handled with all firmness. All perpetrators likewise those they would have been incited into joining them will have to answer before competent judicial institutions.”
Paul Atanga Nji’s outing is coming after the CRM Candidate Maurice Kamto had announced a “national resistance programme”. The programme according to Kamto is to destabilise the swearing in of President-elect Paul Biya. Kamto further stated that the demonstration will be national and international as he urged his supporters to wear complete white attires on that day. Biya who has been in power for close four decades will be sworn in on November 6 after the Constitutional Council declared that he won a landslide victory, with over 70% of the total vote cast in the October 7 presidential election. Before his seven year mandate expires in 2025, he will be above 91 years.
It was to march the minister’s words with action that Kamto’s supporters were picked up as they marched across the city of Douala to protest what they termed “Election Hold Up” by the regime in power.
Some of the militants according to reports were brutalized by the security forces upon their arrest and on their way to the police station.
Government officials who ordered the disruption of the peaceful protest march gave as reasons that the move was not authorized by competent authorities.
A point of view rejected by the organisers who believe their request would have fallen on deaf ears because according to them, since the announcement of the presidential election results the regime has been on a wild campaign of rampant violation of fundamental rights.
The arrest of the militants brought the peaceful protest to an abrupt end but scribes of the CRM party promised to continue with the move.
According to the spokesman of professor Maurice Kamto of the CRM party, Olivier Bibou Nissack, a more bigger protest march is planned for Yaoundé, political capital of Cameroon in the days ahead during which the presidential candidate, Maurice Kamto will personally address the public.
The leader of the movement “Stand up for Cameroon” Edith Kah Walla who visited them at the judicial police station had this to say, “I am just coming from the Judiciary Police in Bonanjo. Saw but did not speak with Michèle Ndoki. She seems uninjured and in strong spirit (usual bright smile). 42 are arrested. Police assured us no one is hurt and after taking statements they will be released. Keep the pressure on. Keep communicating online and demanding their freedom. For those who can go to Bonanjo Judiciary Police, do so calmly and without violence, but keep the pressure on.”
Kah Walla stayed at the police station until late Saturday night when all those arrested were freed.
Journalist Mathias Mouenda Ngama of Le Jour newspaper arrested while covering the protest march was released earlier in the day following pressure from journalism groupings.
Meanwhile yesterday Sunday, Kamto supporters seized the esplanade of the Yaoundé Metropolitan Cathedral to protest against what they term an electoral holdup in Cameroon. Several persons were arrested by security forces. As we went to press, little had filtered out with regards to their whereabouts.
Joshua Osih concedes defeat, opts to mediate in Anglophone crisis
In an interview on state radio Sunday morning, candidate Joshua Osih of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party conceded defeat. He said going by the tally from the return sheets at their disposal, they were second at the polls, reason why they need not put up a spirited fight.
Hear him: “People have to stop this witch-hunting of thinking that I did not receive enough support from the party…we have a new beginning to put in place and this will be done with everyone on board.
“One of the main lessons is that we need to go back to our chalk board and see how we can try to bring people to register. When you look at what is happening on social media and you see the results we obtained, I understand that 90% of social media is not registered. Most of the people who turned up for our rallies were not registered…there is a fundamental issue that we have to address as a political party…of the few who registered, there was voter apathy. The few who came out to vote unfortunately voted for an 85-year-old president. So, definitely, there is something we have to address. We don’t have to shy away from this fact. So, the youthfulness and energy of the candidate alone isn’t a selling factor. We need to go and register voters.”
Osih said he went into the elections knowing what the laws looked like, but unfortunately his work did not pay off. “Having the humility to accept defeat is part of leadership.”