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Whatever the Election Outcome, Botswana’s ‘Democracy’ has Come of Age
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Botswana is heralded as a beacon of stability in a continent that is full of upheaval. However, according to former Botswana President, Botswana’ stability is soon to become a thing of the past if the current president Mokgweetsi Masisi is reelected for a full term in office come October 23. Ian Khama who put Masisi in the top job believes his successor is an autocrat who will reverse all the democratic gains that the country has enjoyed for decades.

The October 23 General Election in Botswana is going to be one of the most significant elections that Botswana has ever had. This is because for the first time, the election is not going to be a walk in the park for the incumbent like past elections but it’s going to be fiercely contested by three candidates who all have a huge chance of winning. This is going to present Botswana with a dilemma that it has never experienced before and one that has torn several African countries to shreds.

Hotly contested elections in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other African nations such as Kenya, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Nigeria among others have always led to clashes often violent and in some instances, they have ignited civil wars as is the case with Ivory Coast. For Botswana, the upcoming elections, therefore, will put to the test, the country’s democracy.

Mokgweetsi Masisi will be running under the ruling party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which has ruled the country uninterrupted for the past 53 years. BDP will come up against a coalition of opposition parties under the banner ‘Umbrella for Democratic Change’ (UDC) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) a brainchild of the former president Ian Khama.

Strongly believing that the man he chose as his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi has become an autocrat, “The person who I nominated to be my successor, as soon as he took office became very autocratic, very intolerant and it has led to a decline in the democratic credentials that we have a reputation for,” Ian Khama is hoping that a win for the BPF will help Botswana return back to its former glorious past.

While both the UDC and the BPF pose a major threat to Masisi’s attempt to win his first full term in office, Khama’s main fear is the loose electoral alliance that it has with the UDC. The BPF which is a relatively new party sought to establish a close alliance with the UDC. However, by the time that the BPF sought to strike a deal with the UDC, the UDC had already nominated its candidates. So in many seats, the UDC and BPF candidates are standing against each other, which could split the opposition vote enough to give the BDP victory. And the BDP and many analysts believe that associating with Khama and the BPF will conversely dent the UDC’s chances in the urban areas, which are its stronghold, and where Khama isn’t widely popular.

Even more worrisome for Khama and the BPF is that not all elements inside the UDC are in favour of an alliance. Speaking to the Institute of Security Studies in Gaborone, deputy leader of the Botswana National Front which is the main party in the UDC, Prince Dibeela said it had been a ‘blunder’ to ally with Khama’s BPF.

The main question now as asked by Peter Fabricius of the Institute of Security Studies is, “For over half a century, Botswana has been an island of peace and stability in a stormy regional sea. But was that stability founded purely on the fact that one party has ruled since independence? If the BDP is defeated next week, will that change? Will it refuse to accept defeat and provoke an opposition backlash? And if the BDP wins again, will the UDC/BPF cry foul and take to the streets? Most Batswana say no, and they’re probably right. But then again they haven’t really been here before.”

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South Sudan parties to meet on future of transition
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir sign a power-sharing deal, August 5, 2018. Image: KagutaMuseveni/Twitter

Juba – South Sudan warring parties to the revitalized peace agreement are expected to meet in Juba on Saturday to discuss outstanding issues ahead of the extended pre -transition period deadline, says Peace Monitor body.

Addressing the last RJMEC Plenary meeting in Juba on Thursday, the interim chairperson of the Revitalized Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) Ambassador Augostino Njoroge said the parties have agreed to meet in Juba to resolve some of the outstanding issues such as the number and boundaries of states, agreement on the allocation of Ministerial portfolio, and submission by the parties of their nominees for the Transitional National Legislative Assembly among other issues before the deadline November 12.

“The incumbent TGoNU should, as a matter of urgency, avail more and adequate resources to the NPTC to facilitate ongoing cantonment, concurrent training and deployment of forces,” said Njoroge, adding that “the parties should meet and resolve the outstanding issue of the number and boundaries of states without further delay; and agree on what options are available come the 12th November deadline.”

JMEC says the peace deal has yielded dividends in the country since it was inked, adding that the permanent ceasefire has held and there is an overall improvement in the security and humanitarian across the country. According to UN, nearly 600,000 people have returned to their homes.

Speaking at the same meeting Gabriel Changson Chang a member of the National Pre- Transitional committee said the commission continues to mobilize for financial resources to fund some of the outstanding issues.

Four months ago, the government pledged to make available an additional $100 million to expedite the implementation of the pending tasks of the pre-transitional period, but Changson said they got 40,000 US dollar at the moment.

“The total amount received so far from the government is about 42 million US dollar out of the 100 million US dollar pledges,” said Changson.

“The regional and international partners and friends of South Sudan should enhance their financial, political and in-kind support to the full implementation of the R – ARCSS,” said Njoroge.

The Head of UN Mission in South Sudan David Shearer urged the leaders to the parties to demonstrate leadership in resolving the outstanding issues hindering the formation of RTGONU on November 12.

Security arrangements

Some progress has been made in the cantonment of forces. Out of the 25 designated cantonment sites for the opposition and 10 barracks for government forces, 24 cantonment sites and 6 barracks are operational. The registration of the forces is almost finished and that should be follows by screening, selection, training and deployment of the necessary unified forces.

Changson said about 60,995 forces were registered across the country and are ready for training soon.

“This is a huge number may not be trains in short period of time but we have to prioritized and our priority will be 3000 VIP protection forces as agreed upon and then the reasonable number of forces from 60,000 can also be train within this timeframe,” said Changson.

The IGAD council of ministers had required that at least half of the 83,000 necessary unified forces be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September, unfortunately, this deadline was not met. Last month, about 1,500 trainers were graduated and are ready to begin their work.

“I, therefore, urge the remaining process to be expedited and to be undertaken concurrently to catch up with lost time,” Njoroge said. “I appeal to the security mechanisms to expedite the selection of the forces for immediate training. In addition, I urge the DDR Commission to begin their work in the cantonment sites and barracks. I await an update from the JTSC on the plan for commencement of the training of forces.”

According to the revitalized peace agreement, the peace parties shall set up the reconstituted government of national unity on 12 November, exactly 26 days from today.

Despite reported progress in the implementation of the pre-transitional period, the peace parties have come under pressure for making anti-peace statements recently.

The President ,Salva Kiir, said he would go ahead and form a coalition government without his main co-signatory to the September 2018 peace accord if he [Machar] hesitates. But the SPLM-IO of Dr. Riek Machar said it would be part of the new unity government unless all the security arrangements and the numbers of states and its boundaries are put in place.

Last week, the United States threatened to impose fresh sanctions against South Sudan leaders if they failed to form a coalition government as scheduled on November 12.

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Mozambique: Nyusi headed for victory in chaotic election
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Felipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique, casts his vote Oct. 15 in Maputo.(Associated Press)

By Arnaldo Cuamba

On Tuesday 15 October, Mozambique organized its general elections to choose the President of the Republic, provincial governors and deputies to the Assembly of the Republic. In general, the process started at the scheduled time, 7 a.m., and had a satisfactory participation of voters.

Of the 20,570 polling stations, including abroad, only 7 did not open in Cabo Delgado, namely in the Districts of Macomia, Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia. The situation has to do with the lack of security due to the extremist attacks that have terrorized the province since October 2017.

Young people and adults voted en masse making these the elections with the most participation since the first democratic ones in 1999. Initial reports suggest a turnout of about 50%. The independent observers point out that the candidate for his own succession in the presidency of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, dominates in the percentages with 70%. In second place is the leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade (21%) and in third place is Daviz Simango, leader of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique with 7%.

In relation to the election of provincial governors and the assembly of the republic there are still no significant data. There is also no concrete date for the release of the data. The National Election Commission (CNE) will not announce partial results during the counting process as it has done in the past, CNE head Sheikh Abdul Carimo has told newspaper Canal de Mocambique in an interview published on wednesday. In the 2014 elections, the CNE called press conferences every few hours in the days following the vote, to read out results as they came in. This time they have decided against, Carimo says, because it “can create various negative interpretations.”

A shameful election

One of the important agents for the supervision of free, fair and transparent elections is the electoral observer. The truth is that 2,915 Mozambican observers were not accredited, although their applications were submitted more than a month ago to the electoral bodies. Many analysts believe that the act was deliberate in order to allow the fraud to occur.

The election night was marked by violence in the centre and north of the country. There was one death. A person was killed, shot and beaten by the police, and four people were shot in the lower limbs as police tried to disperse the crowd at Sao Vicente de Paulo Secondary School, Nacala-Porto, Nampula, province.

The election was also marked by situations of illegal ballot stuffing. Those who were captured brought with them ballots already marked in favour of the Frelimo party. There were also accusations of people who often voted for Filipe Nyusi and his party in an act sponsored by the electoral authorities.

Of the few independent observers who were accredited, those who dared to question illegal attitudes were arrested by the Mozambican police. These reports and more were brought from the central and northern parts of the country where Renamo carries a lot of weight.

“Frelimo’s level of fraud and misconduct was widespread and significantly higher than in previous elections and may have contributed to the qualified majority,” said the Center for Public Integrity, an independent organization that observed the elections.

Renamo boycott the counting

Renamo is boycotting all district vote tabulations, and has ordered its people not to participate in any way in those counts. The boycott was confirmed by an authorized Renamo source but there will be no public statement. MDM will continue to participate in the district counts, but may refuse to sign the district results sheets.

On Tuesday, speaking after voting in his homeland on the Island of Mozambique, Nampula Province, Northern Mozambique, Ossufo Momade, said he “will never” accept “rigged election results,” pointing out that the denial of popular will has led the country to military hostilities in the past.

“If these are manipulated results, we can never accept [them] and we are determined to do anything whatsoever that the people indicates,” said Ossufo Momade, when asked by journalists, whether he will accept a possible defeat in wednesday’s general elections across the country.

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US Congressional Delegation Meets President Barrow
October 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow on Monday morning received in audience a group of Representatives of the United States Congress at the State House in Banjul.

According to the leader of the parliamentary delegation known as the “House Democracy Partnership”, Congressman David Price of North Carolina, their discussions with the President was “very productive’’.

The group’s mission is to promote responsive, effective government and to strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies.

“We are here to show support, to learn and to express solidarity that our country feels with The Gambia as they take this path forward,” Congressman Price told waiting State House Press Corps.

President Barrow, on his part, said The Gambia cherished its longstanding friendship with the United States. He said his government appreciates the support given by the United States during the transition program.

“The reforms are still ongoing with the start of many important projects, such as the constitutional review, truth and reconciliation, civil service and security sector reforms. We are focused on the goals,” President Barrow told the delegation.  

They discussed democratic reforms aimed at transforming The Gambia into a full-fledged member of the comity of democratic nations in the world.

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Mixed Reactions Trail Sack Of AU Ambassador to The USA
October 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The decision to remove Ambassador Arikana has divided opinions.

By Ajong Mbapndah L

A few months shy of a third year in office, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao was notified by the African Union Chairman Moussa Faki that her stint had come to an end.

“In line with the terms and conditions of service covering your appointment as permanent Representative of the AU to the USA, I have decided to terminate your appointment with effect from 1st Nov 2019,” read the letter from Chairman Faki to Ambassador Arikana.

Sent from the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 7 October, the letter expresses appreciation to Ambassador Arikana for her constant commitment to African causes, and the great contribution she has made to the continental organization.

In the letter, Chairman Faki expresses confidence that Ambassador Arikana will continue to render services to Mother Africa in future endeavors.

While the decision from Chairman Faki may appear as a routine change considering that others have previously served before Ambassador Arikana, tongues are wagging in Washington,DC , and the decision has not gone down well with some of her partisans.

So furious are her partisans that the unprecedented move of creating on an online petition on Change.Org. Initiated by Prof. Apollos Nwauwa who  signed as Secretary of the African Diaspora Union, the petition is calling on the African Union to reinstate Ambassador Arikana.

“Dr. Chihombori-Quao has spoken globally to sensitize and empower all peoples of African Descent to come together and build the “Africa We Want” as adopted in African Union Agenda 2063,” the petition read.

“Not everyone is embracing her bold but honest discourses for effecting change for the betterment of Africa.  On October 7th, 2019, Ambassador Quao was relieved of her position as the “Permanent Ambassador” in a unilateral decision made by the African Union Commission Chairman without any hearing or explanation, and yet presented as representing the opinions of all 55 countries.”

The petition goes further to ask a series of questions surrounding her ouster. “why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of states and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism?”

Though no reason was given for the removal of Arikana nor were reasons always given for the departure of some of her predecessors, some of her supporters believe that it may not be unrelated to her hyper activism ,and blunt critique of the colonial legacy that still holds Africa hostage.

Making allusion to a widely circulated video in which she lashed out at the Berlin conference, and fingered the French for its monetary policies that have continued colonization of Africa in a different form, supporters of Arikana believe that AU Chair Moussa Faki may have been pressured by outside forces to terminate her appointment.They point to the fact that the video which was previously posted on the AU website was inexplicably pulled down within three weeks despite the excitement it generated.

Arikana who has not issued a formal statement, was viewed by some Washington players as blurring the line between activism and diplomacy. You are either one or the other, said a source.  While he lauded Ambassador Arikana for bringing more vibrancy to the AU Mission in Washington,DC, the source said the activist part of Ambassador was bound to ruffle feathers,in Washington and beyond,  and her departure was bound to come sooner or later. Still, the source said he will not like to read so much meaning into the decision to relieve Ambassador Arikana of her duties. Ambassadors come and go, and there is no reason for her to be an exception he went on.Citing the letter from Faki and the dynamism of Ambassador Arikana, the source said there definitely will be plenty of opportunities out there for her to be of high profile service to Africa especially in capacities where diplomatic niceties will not be a burden to her.

“I do not know how the letter that was supposed to be meant for Ambassador Arikana went viral,” said another source from the African -American Community in Washington, DC. She had great passion for Africa and we hope her replacement builds on her successes, he said.

On the profile of the ideal replacement, he said, Chairman Faki could appoint another female Ambassador, someone equally dynamic, with a better understanding of how Africa and Washington work. Washington has its dynamics, and the AU will be better served with the appointment of someone who has a through mastery of these dynamics ,he said.

Meanwhile as of press time, the petition on Change.Org had garnered some 2000 signatures.

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Mozambique: unknown armed men try to kill MDM candidate
October 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

Unknown armed men tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the candidate for governor of Maputo Province, in southern Mozambique, Augusto Pelembe, who is head of the list by the Movimento Democrático de Mocambique – the third largest opposition party in the country.

The act took place on Thursday afternoon when he and his caravan were in another day  of electoral campaign activity. One of the party members told Pan African Visions that the caravan was surrounded and blocked by “professional killers”.

“We were on our way to Manhiça and suddenly a car with armed men came in front of us and blocked the caravan and shot our candidate’s car” he said. “It was all very fast, just like professional killers.

Everyone was unharmed from the attack. “But we are very scared,” he said.

Pictures seen Pan by African Visions show the vehicle in which the candidate was transported with a front glass puncture with two shots fired by armed individuals who fled. Police say they are investigating the case.

Mozambique will hold general elections next Tuesday (15) and is having an election campaign marked by violence. On Monday an independent election observer was shot dead in Gaza province, also south of Mozambique, as reported by Pan African Visions.

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S. Sudan: U.S won’t accept unity government without Machar
October 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar addresses the nation at the John Garang’s Mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

Juba – the President Trump’s administration warned that it would not accept a transitional government in South Sudan which excludes ex- rebel Dr. Riek Machar.

Dr. Machar, leader of the main opposition group, Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army – in Opposition signed a new peace deal with president Kiir in 2018 after the 2015 peace deal collapsed.

In the latest peace accords, the two principals promised to end the country’s five – year conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million both internally and externally from the homes.

A new unity government is expected to be formed on November 12, in which Machar will take up a post of the first vice president in the country for next 30 months before elections.

Last month, president Kiir said he would go ahead to form a new transitional government on November 12 if an ex-rebel leader Machar’s hesitates.

President Kiir’s statement comes after the two principals held serious face-to-face talks in Juba where they have made importance progress to speed up screening and registration of their forces as they enter into the over 25 cantonment sites across the country.

Thomas Hushek, U.S Ambassador to South Sudan said the parties must get their act together and implement some of the significant outstanding issues before the D – day for the forming the unity government.

He said this peace deal is where the mandate for the unity government will come from that means it need inclusivity of all parties.

However, the IGAD – which mediated the revitalized peace deal, recently invited the parties to the accord for further talks in Ethiopia to help speed up implementation of outstanding issues that include security arrangements, determination of number states and boundaries but it flabby as the parties never turned up.

The U.S diplomat said the government party has refused to participate in the ones [talks] that the IGAD tried to call and yet they have not established any other mechanism to discuss that outstanding political issue.

“They need to be talking about settling this outstanding political issue of determining of the number of states,” he said, despite the promises and announcements by president Kiir and Machar [in September] that they had asked their members to be negotiating this matter – those negotiations are still born.”

Non – Signatories

Amb. Hushek also revealed that he already reached out to Thomas Cirilo, leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS) to join the peace process and pursue his political objectives through non – violent means.

“I have reached out several months ago to Thomas Cirilo and discussed with him the importance of pursuing whatever objective he had without violence, armed forces,” he said. Adding, when you hear us talking about the need for political space here in South Sudan as part of the peace agreement. It’s about making sure that all parties whether they signed the peace agreement or not, have room to champion political change.”

Gen. Cirilo and former chief of army, Paul Malong Awan are still threatening to the peace process despite that the ceasefire is relative calm.

Support

Hushek further disclosed that the president Trump’s administration remains strong supporter of the peace process in the world youngest nation as it has up to now been the largest supporter of humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.

“We support moving this peace process forward but doesn’t come without some caveats. First of all, we want to see a formation of the unity government. It is clearly defined in the agreement that means all parties have to be in unity. It can’t be a unity government of the incumbent government that moves ahead with the SPLM-IO or other signatory parties drop out,” said Hushek.

He lamented that the parties have been slow on implementing the security arrangements with a bulk of their forces expected to form the 83,000 unified force not yet screened and registered.

“The government has not yet put forward its’ pledged financial support for the [peace] process and also they have been slow to register forces for the cantonment in particular on the government side. They have not done as many registrations so that all needs to be formed in a much accelerated fashion,” Amb. Hushek echoed.

Sanction

Hushek said Trump’s administration will continue to target individuals perceived to be obstructing the peace process in the horn of African region.

“We still have the same executive order in place that we have had that has been a basis for our bilateral sanctions previously. So, this points to people who are obstructing peace and we have this authority to put sanctions on them,” said Hushek. A lot of these sanctions are actually UN sanctions and we use that same executive order to implement them within our legal system. So, it’s incumbent upon all governments of the UN to implement those sanctions.”

Hybrid court

Amb. Hushek also reignited the controversial issue of the formation of the African Union led hybrid court to prosecute war crimes besides setting up the truth, reconciliation and healing commission and reparation commission for the victims of human rights abuses during the violence.

Sentry report

On the recent Sentry report on South Sudan, which alleged syndicate corruption by political elites and international companies helping to fund the civil war, the U.S diplomat agreed that there was massive chronic corruption within the establishment.

“I hope moving forward a future government will see that internationals have a role to play to help the government here [to] fix the problem of corruption. I don’t think anyone in the government has said there is no problem of corruption here. I think they do recognize that,” said Hushek.

The parties have signed a peace deal that includes an entire chapter [four] on improving financial fiscal management, in which a corruption shall be deal with it.

However, the parties to the revitalized peace deal failed to form the unified force by the September 30 as agreed upon.

Of recently, Machar’s group said they are not ready for the formation of the unity government in November 12th if the rest of the security arrangements and the number of states and its boundaries are not implemented. While President Kiir’s group are pushing for the formation of the unity government despite challenges.

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Cameroon: Opposition party wants Canada’s Quebec autonomous-styled system implemented in English-speaking regions
October 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

SDF Chairman John Fru Ndi

Cameroon’s long-time main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, SDF, is pushing for the implementation of an autonomous system of government in the English-speaking North West and South West regions such as what partakes in Canada’s French-speaking Quebec region.

This is contained in a press statement release after the solemn closing of deliberations at the major national dialogue called by president Paul Biya to find common grounds and end the 3-year-long civil unrest in the English-speaking regions.

Focusing on one of the recommendations forwarded to the president which demands “special status” to the English-speaking regions, the opposition party urged that the special status needs transcend into complete autonomy.

“The implementation of this grant of a special status to the North West and South-West regions is that these regions shall have to enjoy autonomy characterized by constitutionally entrenched executive, legislative and judicial powers with an administrative set up that reflects the aspirations of the people of these two regions,” a section of the press statement reads.

Penned on behalf of the party by its chairman, John Fru Ndi, the statement though applauding the holding of the long awaited dialogue which many, including them, prescribe as a first-major step to resolving the crisis, the party believes that borrowing the ideas of Canada will go a long way to heal the wounds that now divides the country into those campaigning for decentralization, federation and complete secession.

“The Quebec model appeals more to Cameroon by virtue of a similar heritage,” the party pointed out. Insisting that the autonomous status will in no way come between the central governments desire of a “one and indivisible Cameroon” the SDF noted that “in 2016, the House of Commons of Canada adopted a motion recognizing Quebec as a nation within a united Canada and that is one and Indivisible.”

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Cameroon: Charges against Political Prisoners, Kamto’s Allies dropped
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Kingue, Penda Ekoka, Kamto and Albert Dzongang in Prison. Pic credit Facebook

Barely a day after the conclusion of the Grand National Dialogue, the President of Cameroon Paul Biya has ordered that charges against some officials, and militants of political parties including those of the Cameroon Renaissance Party (CRM) of Maurice Kamto be dropped. 

In the statement seen by Pan African visions, the government did not say whether charges against Maurice Kamto, the leader of the MRC Party has been dropped. According to the statement signed by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Minister of State, Secretary-General of the Presidency of The Republic, said the President has dropped the charges following the conclusion of talks at the Major National Dialogue.

“… President Biya has ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against some officials, and militants of political parties in particular the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), arrested and detained for acts committed during protests against the result of the recent presidential election,” the statement read. 

He added that, “the decision is guided by the President’s constant resolve to promote peace, fraternity and concord amongst the sons, and daughters of Cameroon” while adding, “that the President is determined to look for ways to provide a peaceful solution to any crisis and disagreement…”

Tweet from Cameroon’s President Paul Biya

“Professor Kamto is being held at Kondengui Central prison of Yaounde infamously known for its horrendous conditions of detention. Reports of torture as well as cruel and inhuman conditions by law enforcement agents have surfaced on many occasions,. Our concern is heightened by reported systematic violations of accused persons’ due process rights by law enforcement and judicial authorities in Cameroon including the use of unlawful and prolonged detention, coercion, and torture,” the New York City Bar Association, one of the world’s oldest bar association said, as quoted by todaynewsafrica.

Kamto was arrested and jailed in January along with more than 200 of his supporters after they refuted the victory of Cameroon’s long time President Paul Biya at the 2018 Presidential election. Kamto organized a nationwide peaceful protest, and equally indicated that he was the winner of the election and not the incumbent. His decision to protest led to him arrested and several others.

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Cameroon:As National Dialogue Ends: Massive Changes Awaited in NW, SW
October 4, 2019 | 0 Comments
the dialogue has not met expectations according to many people

House of Chiefs re-established, Special status for North West and South West

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Major National Dialogue convened by Cameroon’s President Paul Biya is expected to end this Friday, October 4, 2019, with major recommendations already coming out of various committees.

Various delegates have ditched the call for federation that is the goal of many personalities in favour of effective decentralization. According to officials, federation will go a long way to appease and quell the violence in the North West and South West Regions.

Prior to the dialogue, traditional rulers, members of the civil society organizations, and Diaspora leaders had reiterated the need for 10 decentralized federal states as a means to solve the crisis in the Anglophone Regions.

One of the major recommendations that have been made known is for the South West and North West regions to be giving a special status. Late Thursday, delegates adopted a resolution at the dialogue’s plenary session recommending “special status” for the English-speaking areas aimed at re-enforcing the autonomy of administrative areas.

They (delegates) have equally recommended the re-establishing of the House of Chiefs-something that was greatly demanded by Traditional rulers in Fako and their counterparts across the South West. Speaking to Chief Etina Monono of Great Soppo Buea, He said Traditional rulers across the South West have many things they want to see being achieved. “We have a standpoint. We want a house of chiefs and elected officials”, He told Panafrican visions.

Delegates have equally proposed the position of government delegate to be scrapped. The delegates are just not in favour with such a position in the English-speaking Regions. If this issue is passed, it will spell trouble for some government delegate across the Anglophone Regions. What it will mean is the position of government delegates to the Limbe City Council, Kumba City Council and Bamenda City Council will all be abolished.

The decision will however bad news for the Mayor of the Buea council who has been working tirelessly to see the Buea council be upgraded to a city council-with him probably as government delegate.

Other recommendations made known included amongst others the reducing of the position of the Governors, Senior divisional Officers, Divisional Officers, Governors and Co. staying off council affairs, mayors to be consulted before appointment of council SGs and treasurers, council to be empowered and giving kickoff grants, and the powers of the Governors to be reduced.

As indicated in the program, the restitution of the work of various commissions will be held under the effective coordination of the President of the Grand National Dialogue, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute from 11 am local time. The restitution session will be followed by the adoption of the final report of the Grand National Dialogue,” said George Ewane, spokesperson for the dialogue.

The event that is held at the Yaounde conference center aims at seeking solution to the crisis in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon. In a report published last week, International Crisis Group (ICG) estimated that around 3,000 people have been killed by separatist violence and the military crackdown.

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Cameroon National Dialogue:Agbor Balla says Form of state must be in discussion
October 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

Akere Muna storms out of Major National Dialogue

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Barrister Agbor says form of start must be part of discussions

Renowned human rights lawyer and the leader of the ban Anglophone civil society consortium has insisted that the form of the state should be discussed at the ongoing Major National Dialogue to bring a long-lasting solution to the crisis in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.

The Head of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA was speaking at the Yaounde Conference Centre, during the working session of the Decentralization and local Development Commission.

According to Barrister Agbor Balla, if federalism is not adopted, the debates aimed at seeking lasting solutions to the Anglophone crisis will be fruitless, and the President will have to convene a new dialogue next year.

“We believe in the oneness, and the unity of this country, we believe that Cameroon should be one and indivisible, we equally believe that decentralisation will not solve the problem We have to get to a federation that is the minimum the people who have taken up arms would accept. Bar Agbor Balla said.

Barrister Ballas stance on one and indivisible Cameroon has received a backlash from Ayah Paul. In a Facebook post, Ayah questions who mandated Agbor Balla to represent Southern Cameroonians. He writes: WHO GAVE HIM THE MANDATE?

We are for ONE AND INDIVISIBLE CAMEROUN  the spelling of Cameroun not certified; and the highlights are mine. The barrister is entitled to his opinion: it is his most absolute right. Some other persons think likewise and so firmly hold. But with the difference that many such other persons hold that it should be the end product of legality, the reflection of the will of the people, at the least, in their majority. And that is the RUB!”

When Barrister Agbor Balla says WE, what group of persons is he referring to? Did those persons give him a mandate? What were the terms of the mandate? What is the nature of the mandate? When was the mandate conferred? What is the term of the mandate? How was the mandate conferred? As a lawyer, Mr. Barrister knows, or, at least, is presumed to know what I am talking about! WE AWAIT ANSWERS!

Since the President announced the convening of a Major National Dialogue without exclusion on September 10, 2019, many have been reacting on the need to adjust the form of the State and go in for federalism instead of decentralisation.

Prior to the dialogue, traditional rulers, members of the civil society organizations continue to reiterate the need for 10 decentralized federal states as a means to solve the crisis in the Anglophone Regions.

Akere Muna storms out of Major National Dialogue

The leader of the Now Movement Barrister Akere Muna pulled out of the Major National Dialogue citing his discontent over the way the event is unfolding. Akere Muna said at the end of the first day that he will not be returning to the dialogue table if all political prisoners in jail are not released and if the form of the state is not inserted in the agenda.

Akere Muna

“I was hoping to find a platform where all stakeholders can make their voices heard, where all opinions however divergent would be taken into account so a way out is found at the end of a healthy debate He said while adding that “Unfortunately, the unfolding of the events of the first day of the National Dialogue reveal that everything was carefully staged and produced from a script from which the organizers could not stray.” “Worst still, certain topics such as the form of the state and the situation of political and economic prisoners which are important in the current context, have simply been avoided. From what I saw, I could only suspend my participation in this event as it became painfully clear that they needed spectators, and not participants.

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Cameroon: Major National Dialogue ongoing as Anglophone separatists pull out
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

Separatists skip talks calling for international mediation to resolve the crisis

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Discussions are continuing in Cameroon’s political capital Yaounde in the Major National Dialogue convene by the Head of State as the country seeks solutions to the Anglophone crisis rocking the North West and South West Regions. The dialogue has however been dealt a severe blow with separatist leaders in the Diaspora boycotting the dialogue.

The Prime Minister Head of Government Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute has on his part challenged participants to seek lasting solutions so as to bring back peace to the crisis-hit North West and South West regions.

Addressing participants, he said, “I appreciate the historical responsibility we have toward our children, our grandchildren and future generations. By deciding to invite Cameroon’s constructive force to this Major National dialogue, President Biya makes each of us fully responsible for the fate of our country.”

He added, “The gravity of the situation in the North West and South West regions must challenge and concern us but above all oblige us all individually and collectively, regardless of our regions, origin, our political or religious conviction, to achieve a result, that is, to restore peace and tranquillity in these two regions.”

In a report published last week, the International Crisis Group (ICG) estimated that around 3,000 people have been killed by separatist violence and the military crackdown.

The ICG said the talks do not include separatists or Anglophone leaders who support more federalist solutions. “It thus risks further frustrating Anglophones widening the gulf between the two sides and empowering hardliners,” the group said. “The government should make greater space for Anglophones, particularly federalists who are willing to attend. It should also seek a neutral facilitator.”

Even before the Major National Dialogue began, it ran into trouble with many activists arrested and experts voicing scepticism that it would yield tangible results. Mark Bareta, one of the separatist leaders very active on social media announced that he was pulling out, saying that “the only way to have real negotiations is to hold them on neutral territory.”

“Some of us were even lenient to say ok you have called for dialogue in Yaoundé and we can come and say we are for independence but we can do that through our leadership in jail. But till now, Biya has not taken any step…”, Eric Tataw said to TRT World while adding that “The US government wants dialogue and we think that we should go for dialogue but Paul Biya cannot tell us that we are insulting Cameroon because we are not Cameroonians. We are two separate countries, he knows that and the world knows that.”

“We are not forming our own country; we are just restoring our country. The right to self-determination is just what we are asking. We want the world to assist us in carrying out decolonization of southern Cameroon.

Of the 16 separatist leaders invited, those heading armed groups such as Ebenezer Akwanga and Cho Ayaba are also snubbing the talks. Akwanga told AFP that the event was a “smokescreen for the international community rather than an attempt to secure a complete and lasting solution … to the annexation of our country, Southern Cameroons.”

The leaders have expressed willingness to hold talks with the government but in the presence of an international mediator and in a foreign country with the terms for secession the main item on the agenda, according to the ICG.

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