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CAMEROON: POLITICAL TRANSITION IS NEAR ?

 

After more than 30 years in power, the current system in Cameroon may finally be coming to an end. But the Cameroonian people must remain vigilant and steadfast to the last shenanigans of this President, whose Government will mostly be remembered for embezzlements, cronyism, tribalism and incompetence. After 30 years in power, the Cameroonian people have borne the brunt under the reign of this President.

 

A Government of Grand Paps octogenarian oligarchs who have vowed to stay in power till the last breath. A Government of a few who have held an entire generation of people hostage to the intricacies of their ego. A Government highjacked by one political party that has become the brutal machine of institutionalized tribalism and corruption, exacerbated cronyism and incompetence. A Government whose leaders only understand the politics of the stomach and submission to the “Nkukuma” President in the hope of an undeserved nomination. A Government whose leaders only respond to the stimuli of the physical senses, and not so much of the intellect. Leaders without the principles and convictions for the well-being of the Country and people they took an oath to serve and protect.

The people of Cameroon have paid a steep price for the disdain and arrogance of this generation of leaders. Leaders whose only intent is to stay in power indefinitely with no clear path to a peaceful and constitutional transition of power. Leaders whose only instincts are to perpetuate the ignorance and the state of mental slavery of their people. Leaders who only aspire of being nominated to high positions of Government, so they too can embezzle the people money with impunity. Leaders who have pledged unconditional submission to the king President, provided that, they too be put in position to partake of the supper of shame and ignominy at the expense of the entire country and people. In short, leaders who do not love their country.

After 30 years in power with very little accomplishments to show for, the current system seems to coming to end. Human beings don’t live forever.—thankfully ?--. The inescapable trap of Mother Nature is slowly tightening the noose around the neck of these octogenarians who can’t escape their own mortality and must face the elemental truth that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights endowed by their Creator. That all men breath life through their nostrils and that all men are mortal. After 3 decades of iron fisted grip to power, the indomitable lion in chief, subdued by the inescapable aging process, defeated by the sobering reality of his own humanity and mortality may finally be reconciling himself to the inevitable truth that his reign must –at some point-- come to an end, just as was the case with his predecessor.

However, the people of Cameroon must understand that when this President leaves power, the fight for Freedom and Liberty must endure, even as the regime holds onto the last throes of power. We must expect this Regime –as all multi-decades regimes do-- to manipulate the system one more time, as was the case in 1996 with the constitution, so that the oligarchy –which has no vision for the future of the country-- can stay in power without consent of the people and accountability. And how about the people who died fighting for a better Country ? How about this young generation of our people --a generation full of hope, promise and exuberance-- that has never been given a chance ? Isn't Cameroon supposed to be a Republic and not a Monarchy ?

After a trip to Paris, the President now wants the Senators to be elected, some 17 years after he amended the constitution to form a Senate. The constitution adopted in 1996, in article 6 states that the President of the Senate shall act as interim in the case of vacancy of the Presidency. Even though Article 6 also states that the President of the Senate can’t run for the Office of the President, it will be very interesting to see who winds up as President of the Senate.

The question before the Cameroonian people is why is this President –who is so conspicuously detached from the reality and the well-being of the country -- in such a hurry and why now ? Has his Master in Paris told him that his time is up ? Was he reminded of his age ? Why now and why so sudden ? Why not hold this election after the next municipal elections to allow for all parties to adequately prepare given that the mandate of the Municipal counselors has expired ? Why is this President so disdainful of Democracy and so dismissive of free Elections even as he leaves power ?

After 3 decades of institutionalized corruption and tribalism, the people of Cameroon had come to expect only deceptions, trickeries and manipulations of the Constitution from their Government. Our people have lost any hope of any constructive and aspirational ideas from their Government. Now that the end in sight seems near for this dark history of our Country, we must be vigilant that the shackles of this –everlasting three decades inferno-- failed system does not morph into the birth of the new dictatorship that could crown yet another beginning of a new Monarch. If that were to happen, our beloved country Cameroon, as we used to know it, may be lost forever. And the little hopes that we hold to recover and free our country may vanish forever.If that were to happen, the relationship between this generation of Cameroonians and their Country may be altered in a very fundamental and irreversible way. Our people may begin to see their country in a very profoundly different way.

 

But we have also seen that the problem is not just the President. The problem is also the CPDM parliamentarians at the national assembly. The folks who conspired to “sweeten” this President by giving him a blank check to stay in power indefinitely without accountability. The parliamentarians who voted to deny Democracy and Freedom to our Country. We, the people must hold these parliamentarians accountable at the ballot boxes, for they too are just as much an impediment to the struggle to change our country. They too are an albatross to the changes we seek. We must get these diurnal snoring heads out of our National Assembly for good. We must seek to elect younger and smarter people to the National Assembly. People with the courage and convictions to stand up for the people, and deliver the changes we so desperately seek.

So what should we fight for when the “Monarch President” goes away for good ? What should we seek to change when the octogenarian Slave Master has left the ship for good ? What should we as a people aspire to when we get a chance for a new beginning ? What should be in the agenda for the political opposition parties ? There are many slivers to the answer, but I can’t stress enough for the need of a new constitution for our Country. Our experience with a democratic system of Government will only be as successful as the constitution allows it to be. Our Government and Leaders are only as smart –or dumb—as the constitution allows them to be. We must craft a modern, smart and intelligent constitution. A modern constitution must follow some common sense guidelines such as:

ü  The constitution must clearly define and articulate the separations of power between all the branches of Government. The three branches of Government – The Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary—must be independent. The executive branch of Government –or the President-- must not be allowed to dictate its will to the other branches of Government. The laws must be crafted and voted by the legislative branch only, and there must be a statute of limitation to the Executive branch, under the watchful eyes of the Judiciary.

ü  The Constitution must define term limits. Term Limits must be emphasized and carved in stone in the constitution. We absolutely don’t want another 30 year reign of the next President.

ü  The constitution must have built-in checks and balances in its construct so that it can’t be highjacked by a few self serving folks at the National Assembly as was the case in 1996. Major changes to the constitution such as term limits must only be possible through a referendum. The entire country must have a say when the constitution is being amended in a major and consequential way. We have paid too much of a price for leaving the constitution at the mercy of the 180 members National Assembly. We must learn from the past and prevent it from happening again.

ü  The constitution must define a statute of limitation to the Powers of the President. There must be limits to what the President can do. The constitution must spell out the Limits to the Powers of the President. Never give one human being all powers. Never make one human being Fon of Fons, Lamido of Lamidos, King of Kings. Power without accountability will over time corrupt the human mind. We must limit the powers of the President. There must be things that the President can’t and must not do by himself without the consent of the other branches of Government. For instance, the President must not be given the sole powers to sign treaties on our National resources with foreign Governments without the consent and ratification of the National Assembly and/or the Senate. There must be a way –if necessary, as a last resort-- to get him out of power and hold him accountable. There must be a dissuasive constraint that compels the President to be a good man to the country that he has taken the oath to serve and protect.

ü  The Constitution must articulate power sharing, power distribution and counter powers. The constitution must not allow any one Man’s will to prevail over the collective will of the Country. The African people have paid too much of a price for the intricacies and mistakes of a few. Power must be shared. Power sharing incentivizes collaboration, negotiations and compromise, which are at the heart of all democratic processes.

ü  The constitution must emphasize Freedom, Liberty, Equality, Justice and Rule of law for all of its citizens. Our people must be free. Law enforcement must not be allowed to abuse of its power to arrest and detain without a due process. All of our people must have equal protection before the law.

When we the people would have agreed to, and ratified such a constitution, we will then need to design and build the institutions of good governance around the principles outlined in the constitution. We will have to build our country on the modern principles of power sharing, process driven –as opposed to personality driven--, personal responsibility and accountability. Policies and procedures must defined and followed, in the way we operate all public services. Policies, Processes and standard operating procedures –SOPs—must be defined and implemented. The SOPs must be reviewed and improved upon on a regular basis. All systems must be computerized –to the extent that they can be-- and auditable. The fight for corruption must be front and center to the changes we seek. We must seek to train our people and give them the correct skill sets for the job they are asked to do. We must train our people, so as to make them competent and respectful of the rule of law. This is the centrality to the premise of change. We, the people must be the change we seek.

Our struggles as a people culminate around these ideas. Our common aspiration as a country rests on the principle that we are a people bound at the core by our common aspirations, common convictions, love for country, respect for Freedom, Liberties, Justice and the rule of law. We are bound by our profound desire to build a country for our children, better than the one we met. We must aspire to build a country that dignifies our humanity and our citizenry as a people. We must design and erect a Government --of the people, by the people and for the people-- whose quintessential purpose of existence is to serve and protect its people and safeguard the well-being of society. A Government that enacts smart laws and regulations to allows its people to express their ingenuity and pursue happiness. A Government that is compassionate and responsive to the needs and demands of its people. A Government that is responsible and accountable to the National Assembly and the people. A Government that does not step out of the boundaries of its powers and oppress its people. And finally a Government that has a term limit. These principles of modern governance are Universal. They have been tested in all modern countries today, and they are known to work. We, the people of Cameroon are not seeking to reinvent the wheel, we just need to become conscious of our problems and look for what works. And when we look at the modern world today, there is plenty that we know works. It’s really up to us. Lets get to work !!

 

"We must not be dissuaded by the Slave or Colonial Master that we can’t do it by ourselves and for ourselves." –ANST—

"Any future President must not be given the sole powers to sign treaties on our National resources with foreign Governments without the consent and ratification of the National Assembly and/or the Senate." –ANST—

 

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