Editorial: CPDM anniversary, not Biya's campaign!.

The effervescence of celebrations marking the 39th anniversary of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, CPDM, last week, was dominated by competing rhetoric for President Paul Biya, 91, and in power for over four decades, to run for an eighth mandate next year.

From every nook and cranny of the country, the nexus of the celebrations was not about any momentous achievement of the CPDM, since it was launched in Bamenda, 39 years ago.

Calls, more hypocritical than from the heart, were the focus, as observed on social, national and international media headlines. 

Some of the headlines screamed: "Nguti CPDM supporters beg Biya to seek another mandate,"  "Mounouna Foutsou tells supporters in Mayo Danay to rally behind President Paul Biya," " Supporters want Cameroon’s four-decade president, 91, to run again" etc.

Senior CPDM official, Fru Jonathan, from Santa, in the North West Region, gave the reason to Voice of America, why Biya should remain the party's "natural candidate", saying there is peace, unity and economic growth in the country.

He added that Biya is ‘strong’ and healthy. 

"We think that you don't change a winning team...if there is any challenger, let him come up. We have not seen any challenger who can beat our candidate. We all rely on him and call on him to continue to rule and bring our country to emergence as that is his vision".

In supporting the call from the North West Region, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mounouna Foutsou, from Mayo Danay Division in the Far North Region, said: “The contract of trust between President Paul Biya and us is sacred and cannot suffer from any betrayal".

The minister did not mince his words, castigating any CPDM official who supports calls for the President to retire. He described them as “wolves in sheep's clothing” and other “traitors” who would like to break the “contract of trust” between Paul Biya and his people.

Unsurprisingly, CPDM supporters in the Division, reiterated their “total and unconditional support” for President Paul Biya, calling on him to run for office in 2025, to “complete the work he started in 1992”.

For them, the Head of State remains “the natural candidate” of Mayo Danay and more broadly of Cameroon, to lead the country “towards emergence” in 2035.

But what is on the ground to prove that emergency is on course?

A 52-minute documentary on the achievements of the CPDM, was projected at the Yaounde Conference Centre, beefed-up with musical displays to highlight the life of the ruling party.

Sounds and pictures of the 1985 Congress in Bamenda, that led to the creation of the party, as well as interviews of some party bigwigs, recounted the trajectory of the party, focusing on various episodes and the resolute drive towards emergency.

Excerpts of President Paul Biya’s declarations in English and French, got the applause of the crowd.

According to CRTV reports, "the message corresponding to different stages in the life of the party highlighted the President’s visions of building a prosperous Cameroon, by weeding out corruption from the public service and empowering women and youths in forging a strong and democratic Cameroon".

There is no gainsaying the fact that all the campaign buzzes, rhetoric and calls for Biya to seek another term were charily crafted to tally with the commemorative theme: "All together, let us mobilise with determination and without ambiguity, behind the National President, President of the Republic, Head of State, with a view to consolidating the house achievement of his ideals of peace unity, democracy and social justice, as well as his ambitions for the progress of our country".

Note that the theme did not call to rally behind the party, but an individual. The opposition was not fooled by the self-serving evaluation of the party's achievements under President Biya.

Corruption, they say, has been endemic and pervasive, during Biya’s rule, with Transparency International, TI, ranking Cameroon as the most corrupt country in the world, in 1998 and 1999. 

The declaration of assets, as stipulated by the constitution, has never been respected.

Cabral Libii, 44, an opposition parliamentarian, under the ticket of the National Reconciliation, PCRN, who came third at the 2018 presidential election, is quoted by the Voice of America, as saying: "Cameroonian youth will not continue to watch Biya cripple the economy, deprive civilians of their liberties and freedoms, and rule Cameroon with an iron fist while now showing signs of being ruler for life".

He added that: "Biya is the cause of the sorrows brought about by extremely high unemployment, underemployment and crises in the English-speaking Regions that have claimed more than 6,000 lives".

Libii, however, said the Cameroon opposition and civil society are organising themselves to present a candidate to oust the incumbent, whom they describe as “elderly and frail to the point he is hardly seen in public".

As expected, cleverly and foxy as President Biya is, he has not said if he will retire to "the village" with all his guaranteed immunity and a seat at the Constitutional Council. That has kept both his sycophants and opposition guessing, speculating and even consulting oracles.

As for The Guardian Post, we are of the strong conviction that uncertainty in a country that has been polarised with tribal bigotry and hoping for justice, peace and unity, cannot progress in such an atmosphere. 

We urge President Biya, whose political aura of panache and glamour are not in doubt, to declare his stand and stop the cacophony of "The People's Call", more from the mouth than the heart of the callers, given that the presidential poll is just around the corner.

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