Dear President Paul Biya,
Everyone knows that the arrests of Barrister Balla and Supreme Court Lord Justice Ayah Paul were effected without due process of the law. In speaking out and leading, these lawyers did just what lawyers do best in their careers and for their communities.
Then came the summons and interrogation of Barrister Akere Muna for expressing his personal views about your end of year speech. For a country that prides itself with freedom of expression and association and respect for the rule of law, these arrests, detentions and trials have put a serious dent on national unity and national integration that you hold so near and dear to your heart.
Your Excellency, what these three men I have cited above have in common is that they all come from Southern Cameroon, they are all well respected national and international lawyers and have all expressed only views related to their profession that affect not only their lives but also the lives of millions of their English speaking communities.
But today they are being charged and or threatened to be charged with terrorism and treason. Both charges come with a death penalty looming over their heads.
Sir, people are asking where have these three lawyers gone wrong? If extraordinary men of their magnitude could be treated like poppets would, what would this regime not do to thwart and hurt the ordinary Southern Cameroonian?
It was only a few days ago that Your Excellency stated in Italy that speaking of federalism is a taboo and definitely there will be no dialogue if federalism is what Anglophones want.
Sir. The problem with this statement I'm afraid is that, 90% of the people from Southern Cameroon no longer want to stay in the union, largely because of torture and marginalization.
Due to wanton human rights abuses and Internet blackout, over 90% Anglophones at home and abroad now want separation and outright independence, (if I'm lying to you try a referendum Sir in the two English speaking Regions). Now discussing federalism around some of our people is fast also becoming a taboo.
As a leader and the father of the nation, Mr. President, you have to be fed the truth. Yet i'm worried no one around you who has your ears is willing or courageous enough to tell you this. Not even foreign friendly nations. It's rather unfortunate!
Now we have a deadlock situation where no one side is willing to shake or shift their goal post for dialogue to genuinely begin and give our people the peace, prosperity and liberty every one of us deserves.
The regime appears to be placing it's bets on the army and the courts to silent all forms of expressions by Southern Cameroonians.
On the other hand, effective ghost towns and close down of schools have persisted despite numerous trips by the PM to the regions and continues arrests. But no one seems to face the truth as to why our people have still not given up and it is your right and place Mr. President to know.
Your excellency, order the courts to stop all these trials. Authorize the prisons to release everyone and all these leaders without conditions. Command the forces of law and order to stop the arrests. Instruct CRTV to hold off on all forms of media propaganda on this issue! In so doing you will diffuse tensions.
In the higest interest of peace, liberty and freedom, Your Excellency, permit me use this opportunity to respectfully request for audience aimed at telling you the whole truth and handing you a road map for genuine dialogue as my own modest contribution towards peace and finding lasting solutions to this problem.
Dr. David Makongo. USA
On March 20, 2017, I received a summons requiring that I show up to the National Defense Secretariat (SED) on Wednesday, March 23. Due to a prior commitment, I informed the SED of my intention to fulfil my professional commitments in South Africa on that day, offering instead to have the hearing on the morning of Friday, March 24.
I was accompanied to SED on Friday morning by the President of the Cameroon Bar Association, as well as four former presidents of the Bar and many members of the Bar Council. On arrival, I found over a hundred lawyers waiting outside. They waited patiently outside while I was being heard by a Lieutenant of the gendarmerie. These are the charges that were levied against me:
- Hostility toward the homeland
- Advocating terrorism
- Compromising the security of the State
These charges, it would seem, stemmed from the content of articles that I had published in the "Le Jour" daily newspaper. The first article appeared on December 19, 2016, entitled "The Inevitable Nature of Change" in which I examine the futility of resisting change.
The second appeared on January 10, 2017, entitled "Cameroon is One and Indivisible: Which Cameroon?" in which I discuss the questions of unity that plague our country.
The investigation, I was informed, was opened at the request of the commissioner of government at the Military Tribunal. I responded to all the questions asked truthfully, reaffirming my convictions and standing behind the words I wrote in those articles. After a few hours I was allowed to leave the gendarmerie. The report of the investigation will be transmitted to the commissioner of government.
I am grateful for the out-pour of kindness and support that I received from well-wishers both online and off. To those who, fearing for my safety, encouraged me to stay away from Cameroon, I say thank you for your concern, but my conscience is my judge and I believe am not guilty of wrongdoing. I love my country and I will always speak up in the interest of a better tomorrow.
Akere T. Muna
The French far-right presidential candidate has positioned herself as a champion of African sovereignty. But her visit to the French military base in N'Djamena was condemned by some local politicians.
French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has caused controversy with her visit to Chad in the final weeks of her presidential campaign. In a bid to show her support for France's anti-terrorism military operations in the Sahel region of Africa, Le Pen met Tuesday with Chad president Idriss Deby and planned to tour the French military base in N'Djamena on Wednesday.
The central African country's leading opposition party, however, sharply condemned the visit. The leader of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal (UNDR), Saleh Kebzabo, said he was "categorically opposed to her visit" because of her "racist and xenophobic" politics. He was referring to Le Pen's political platform which promises to curb both legal and illegal immigration into France and ban fundamentalist Muslim organizations.
UNDR spokesman Laring Baou told DW that Le Pen, as the successor to her father Jean-Marie Le Pen as leader of the National Front party, does not have the interests of Africans in mind.
"The far right continues to promote the idea that if there are problems in France, it's because of the foreigners, especially Africans," said Baou. "I remember her father's words: 'I like Africans - but in only in Africa'."
A mixed message on colonialism
Le Pen is an outspoken defender of French colonialism. She attacked her major opponent Emmanuel Macron for calling the alleged torture and massacres of the colonial era "crimes against humanity," claiming that his criticism was itself a crime against France.
Nevertheless, Le Pen has positioned herself as the candidate most opposed to the politics of "Francafrique" - a term that refers to the continuing interdependence between France and its former African colonies. In the name of French economic independence, she advanced a policy of "non-interference" in African affairs during a speech last month.
"Marine Le Pen has had some success with her message to Africans," Jean-Claude Camus of the Jean Jaures Foundation told DW, "saying that you are masters of your own destiny in the same way that we should be the master of our own."
Anti-terrorism operations a focal point
At the center of Le Pen's trip to Chad was the issue of French national security. Terrorist attacks in the French cities of Nice and Paris in the past two years led current president Francois Hollande to claim that France is "at war" with Islamic terrorists.
The Sahel region of Africa, home to Islamist groups affiliated with al Qaeda, is key to France's anti-terrorist strategy. Chad hosts the headquarters of the Barkhane military operation, which consists of over 3,000 French troops, tasked with disrupting the activities of groups that France considers terrorist organizations.
Le Pen is not the only French presidential candidate to visit military bases. Center-right candidate Francois Fillon visited operations in Mali and Niger in December, and Macron toured a base in Jordan in January. The French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian said that "all candidates who make a request may visit the military operations."
CAPITOL HILL —
One extra day could not buy President Donald Trump and his Republican Congress the first major legislative victory they needed to set the tone for the new administration.
Republicans canceled a crucial health care bill vote at the last minute Friday rather than lose a battle of numbers on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The cancellation followed a chaotic Thursday when the leadership postponed a vote in the hope that 24 more hours could win a long-promised repeal and replacement of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Ryan delivered the news
House Speaker Paul Ryan rallied his splintered Republican Party during an emergency meeting in the depths of the Capitol after delivering the bad news in person to Trump at the White House.
The once-certain health care bill victory threw into question the rest of the Republican agenda addressing tax reform, government spending and infrastructure funding. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, the reactions of members leaving the meeting gave varying clues on how the party moves forward.
A grim-faced Mark Meadows, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, offered no comment as he left the meeting led by Ryan. The conservative caucus helped bring down the Speaker’s bill, suggesting it was too close in form to the so-called Obamacare.
Other members looked visibly uncomfortable with questions about the next steps for Republicans.
“It’s unchartered territory, but it certainly doesn’t bode well as our first attempt out of the box to govern,” said Congressman Tom Rooney, a Republican from Florida. “We’re in power and we have the ability to do things and we’re not doing it.”
Many Republicans leaving the meeting said they had no issue with Ryan’s leadership after the vote cancellation.
Vincent Aboubakar picked up where he left off some 50 days ago by again scoring for Cameroon as they beat Tunisia 1-0 away in their first outing since winning the African Nations Cup.
Aboubakar netted the winner for Cameroon in last month’s final against Egypt in Libreville, Gabon and repeated the feat with a 15th minute strike in the tourist resort of Monastir, steering into the net with an outstretched leg a curling free kick from captain Benjamin Moukandjo.
Aboubakar had an excellent chance for a second 10 minutes into the second half but hit his shot wildly over the top with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Tunisia twice hit Cameroon’s woodwork during the friendly and Ali Maaloul came close with two late efforts for the hosts as both countries warmed up for the resumption of World Cup qualifiers later in the year.
Berlin — Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, expressed concern about the government's recent crackdown on civil society in Cameroon and the police summons received by its former vice-chair and current chair of the International Anti-Corruption Conference series, Akere Muna, who has been an outspoken critic of the government's actions.
The Cameroon National Gendarmerie issued the summons on 20 March to question Muna, a barrister whose firm is representing more than 60 people detained following the recent protests.
Since November 2016, English speaking lawyers and teachers have criticised the government's move to make French the official language of the courts despite its commitment to a bilingual system. Twenty per cent of the population of Cameroon is English speaking.
The government has also cut internet connections in the English speaking regions of Cameroon, disrupting businesses and limiting freedom of expression.
In January Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, the president of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, and Fontem Neba, the group's secretary general, were arrested and charged with inciting terrorism. Muna is representing Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla.