Editorial: 2025 elections; Don’t curtail freedom.

Security forces preventing peaceful protest

The theme: “Administrative authorities and the maintenance of law and other in pre-electoral periods”, was the focus of the governors' conference that ended in Yaounde last week.

It was an apt theme, given the crucial elections slated for next year and with predictions even from the International Monetary Fund that the future is pregnant with uncertainty.



With such elections, witty that of the president on the apex, the governors should expect divergent political views from over 300 political parties registered in the country.

When the Minister of Territorial administration, Paul Atanga Nji, added 40 others last November, he said the advent of the new lot was to strengthen political debate in Cameroon. 

“In order to enrich the political debate and encourage the expression of freedoms, dear to the Head of State, H.E Paul Biya, great champion of democracy in the country, the Minister of Territorial Administration has just approved forty (40) political parties, which will henceforth contribute to the animation of a contradictory and constructive political debate,” he said. 

With such an embarrassingly large number of political parties, government should expect divergent views, some articulated, others sublime and many even toxic.

Such a market of free speech should be expected, as long as they do not incite violence, hate speech or even xenophobic intolerance that has unfortunately been observed mainly within the CPDM ruling party fief.

When the Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, made a review of the nation’s political climate and social issues such as rising road accidents, unauthorised political activities and attempts to denigrate the Head of State, Paul Biya, he warned that any form of deviant behaviour, contrary to the laws, shall be responded to, without mercy.

According to Atanga Nji, the Head of State, Paul Biya, has worked in the last decades to make Cameroon what it is today. Nobody, he said, irrespective of rank, will be allowed to ruin it.

Like all other ruling party acolytes, Minister Atanga Nji said: “Biya has worked to build our country on a solid foundation, where we enjoy peace, national unity and the spirit of living together, in spite of our differences”.

He insisted that Biya “remains the Head of State and incarnate all State institutions. Unscrupulous politicians have taken upon themselves to address the Head of State as if they were talking to a layman...”. 

He warned that: “Henceforth, such utterances shall not be tolerated”. 

Atanga Nji said the Head of State’s mastery of Cameroon is next to none.

“He has experience in managing State affairs far beyond our boundaries,” the minister uttered.

Despite urging politicians to act in respect of State institutions, Atanga Nji reminded all of Biya’s standing.

“In Africa, he is respected as an intelligent, experienced and wiseman...so, no room will be given to soothsayers and preachers of doom who think they master Cameroon better than President Biya,” he declared. 

That appraisal of the presidential performance will, however, be contested, given that the minister himself pointed to the alarming rate of accidents in the country.

There are constant electricity failures, shortage of drinking water, high cost of living, crushing public debts and even youth unemployment, which even the Head of State himself has pointed out in his various speeches with promises to address them.

There is also the lingering insecurity in the North West and South West Regions, compounded by ghost towns every Monday; that cripple the economy of the two Regions.

Those are issues that affect the living standards of Cameroonians on the streets. They are topics that inflame rage and nobody will expect any of the over 300 political parties to cheer for the ruling party candidate, before or during the presidential campaign.

What the ruling government should do is open a free space for all contestants to compete freely without resorting to violence. 

Minister Atanga Nji told governors that “…in a country as free as Cameroon, we must use our intelligence to build, not destroy. We must avoid verbal excesses, irresponsible rhetoric, hate speech and political one-upmanship, all of which can sow seeds of conflict”.

That freedom should be illustrated in action. 

At The Guardian Post, we hold strongly that it is when government attempts to curtail the liberty of the nearly 300 political parties it has registered that could amount to an inevitable invitation to violence.

We rest our case! 

 

 

 

This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No:3163 of Tuesday July 9, 2024

 

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