Friday, February 29, 2008

Uncomfortable violence rocks Cameroon: Foreign missions worry over faith of nationals

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Cameroon generally considered by some to be an Island of peace in the continent of Africa, and particularly the central Africa sub-region, is today experiencing an uncomfortable state of violence. For over three days running, there has been looting, and violent destructions of both private and state properties in some major towns around the country including several people reported dead by state and local media. The situation is getting worse especially in the economic capital of Douala,as well as Yaounde, the nation’s capital where angry populations are constantly in violent confrontations with forces of law and order.

Accordingly, movements have been limited if not impossible in some areas making the country look like a state of emergency. The state of affairs which started by a taxi drivers’ strike against increase in the price of fuel since last Monday 25th February, is almost going out of hands
at this point in time. Other groups of people in country have joined with an assortment of grievances raging from; increase in the prices goods of basic commodities, massive unemployment, lack of social amenities and the much talk about amending the
constitution of the country.

Meanwhile, some foreign missions here have expressed worry over the state of their nationals. The first of which is the U S Embassy in Yaoundé. A recent warden message from the Embassy called on all U S citizens in the country to stay cool and avoid traveling within the country especially in Douala and Yaounde. The message also schooled them on the need to
be ready in case of evacuation.

In an extraordinary manner, the head of state Paul Biya made a firm statement to the people of
Cameroon on 28th February 2008. The said statement carried by local media and now widely available online was neither a message nor an address to the nation. It was a declaration giving his position as to the present crisis in the country. It was thus void of the usual national anthem both at the beginning and the end as well as long live Cameroon which usually characterize his speeches to the nations. Also absent were the traditional fellow country men.

In strict tones, the president warned those who are involved in what he described as the
instrumentalisation of the youths in their manipulation to get what they want. But was however
confident when he said “They are doom to fail” indicating that he was prepared to take some action on whatever he is talking about.

Finally, the president made it clear that legal means available to Government will be put in place to ensure the rule of law. While presenting the message, which was broadcast over state radio and TV, the president was spotting a frown on his face indicating the seriousness of the issue at hand. The declaration by President Paul Biya to the people of Cameroon was equally void of please, or pampering, let alone negotiations. It was firm and full of authority reason why some schools of thought believe the president has declared war. War which the demonstrators will not be able to stand, because as is customary, he always uses every tool at his disposal to fight public unrest.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

African Union (AU)’s functioning criticized

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Dysfunctional structures, misplaced priorities and scanty coffers as obstacles to continental

A panel of 13 eminent African specialists, assigned to evaluate the structures, functioning and management of various organs of the African Union (AU) recently submitted an unflattering report that casts a shadow on the effectiveness of the 50 year old continental union.

In the over 270 – page report, examined by heads of state during the AU summit at Addis Ababa from 31 January to 2 February, the panel gave a long list of examples of the inability of the AU to meet its objectives through structural problems, insufficient human and financial resources and serious managerial shortcomings.

According to the panel of specialists from diverse fields, chaired by Adebayo Adedeji, former executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), AU summits spend too much time treating topics that have nothing to do with Africa’s integration.

The panel criticized the absence of clarity in the objectives of the African Commission and other organs of the AU and condemned their poor management practices. There also seemed to be a lot of wasteful expenditures. In 2006 alone, the African Commission paid for 5241 airplane trips for staff members.

Most decisions of the AU, the panelists pointed out, are never implemented. For instance, the AU has taken 172 decisions in five years and the executive council has adopted 393 resolutions that have, unfortunately, remained paperwork.

AU projects, the panel said, are characterised by opacity, which is the converse of transparent
management that the union should be striving for.

Most African countries were also slammed for not regularly making their annual contributions to the AU. This has forced the AU to go cap in hand to Western countries to subsidize it.

After enumerating many other shortcomings, the panel made 170 recommendations amongst which include; a call for the construction of a new democratic and economic order in which African peoples and not states would be the focus of the AU; the institution of an air ticket
tax for the functioning of the AU; and ensuring faster African integration.

On the other hand the 13 panelists warned African leaders emphasizing that the choice was now between “progress” and “underdevelopment”.

While underscoring the belief that Africans are so disunited that they cannot solve their problems
without outside intervention, the panel urged the continent’s leaders to prove skeptics wrong by
implementing these recommendations rapidly. But the African leaders returned home from Addis Ababa as usual, with no concrete actionable decisions.

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America warns its citizens to be careful in Cameroon

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

The Embassy of the United States of America in Yaounde, Cameroon, has advised American Citizens in the country, against traveling to the city of Douala, the country’s economic capital and other areas in the country. The decision came on the hills of violent demonstrations perpetrated by the people of Cameroon and particularly Douala, against the Biya Regime.

Amongst some of their grievances are; the high cost of fuel, and goods of basic necessities, unemployment, and the much talk about constitutional amendments.
For closed to five days the people have been demonstrating on the streets singing provocative songs against the regime, looting and beating-up other loyalist of the regime leading to violent clashes between protesters and the forces of law and order which are reinforcing their presence with dangerous combat materials. Needless to say here that the confrontations have led
to loss of lives in various parts of the country

The following is a message issued by the American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé.

‘Embassy sources report that looting and unrest has begun in downtown Yaounde around the central market, and in the Mokolo, Madagascar and Carrefour Wada neighborhoods. The Embassy advises against any travel in Yaounde until the situation is brought under control.
Due to continued violence in Douala and increasing outbreaks of violence in the Littoral, South West, West and North West provinces of Cameroon, American citizens in those provinces are advised to remain in their residences for the next twenty-four hours. Americans in other parts of Cameroon are encouraged to limit their travel and be alert to potential hazards. Travel between urban areas should be avoided, as roadblocks have been erected without notice by both
demonstrators and petty criminals on many of the major thoroughfares of Cameroon. Food, fuel and water are increasingly scarce, not only in Douala but in other cities where expectation of shortage has sparked a run on gasoline. In response to the crisis the Consular Section of the
U.S. Embassy has established a dedicated phone line - 237-2220-1500 x4033, and e-mail address - The Embassy urges any Americans in Cameroon, particularly those located in areas of unrest, to contact the Consular Section to provide
information about your situation, or to get current information on developments.
All Americans are also reminded to consider reviewing their readiness for emergency situations.
Specifically, citizens should review whether you have appropriate food and other supplies to remain in your residence for a week or more, should that prove necessary. Additionally, Americans should review their travel documents to ensure they are current and consider packing an emergency bag containing your most important documents and possessions. American citizens throughout Cameroon are reminded to avoid large public gatherings or demonstrations if
possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. American citizens
should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all

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Appointment of ELECAM members: Biya, Inoni undertake farcical consultations

Like on previous occasions Paul Biya uses other means to arrive at his list but orders a public show of consultations to give the impression that the list that will come out in the end resulted from the democratic exercise

By Ojong Steven Ayuk, The Herald

In the exercise of his overwhelming powers, President Paul Biya often tries to give the impression of a democratic approach in a deliberate effort to impress the public and particularly Cameroon’s foreign partners.

Under the president’s directives Ephraim Inoni, the prime minister, has receiving leaders of the five parties in parliament in what the public media say are consultations in view of appointing members of the election management organ, ELECAM.
This time the number of political leaders is limited to the parties in the Assembly but on previous occasions it was much wider.
What really happens is that President Biya puts together his list all alone, and then tells the prime minister to undertake consultations at which political leaders are asked to propose names.
Even when they are asked to propose a party member to represent the party on the organ, Paul Biya is absolutist and is never bound by such a suggestion.

In the end the list ends up with someone representing their party on the organ who was not in fact the choice of the leader. It is a method that Biya has often used to create conflict between the appointee and his party leadership which ends in creating some allegiance to the President.

One of the most farcical public consultations undertaken by the government recently was in December 2006 over the creation of ELECAM. For about two weeks all the major political and social and economic forces from all over Cameroon were summoned to Yaounde to meet the prime minister on a one-and-one basis.
They were assured that the president was about to create an independent elections management organ. The consultations were therefore intended to seek the views of each political actor to facilitate the finalization of a bill to that effect.

What was sent to parliament in the end was a far cry from an independent election organ. What was even worse was that the new organ named Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) was even not even to be immediately operational. It was to be progressively rendered
functional over a period of eighteen months. The end result of the exercise was that the legislative election of 2007 was to be organized once more by the detested Minister of Territorial
Administration. Opposition forces cried fowl, betrayal and lacked adjectives to qualify the president’s cavalier and high handed manner.

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Cameroon Government shuts down Popular Private TV

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Authorities considered Equinoxe Television to be pro-opposition

Cameroon’s minister of communication, Jean Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, recently signed a decision sealing Equinoxe Television (eTV), one of the country’s most popular private television stations based in the
economic capital of Douala. Though it is not crystal clear as to what motivated the minister’s draconian sanction against the media organ, some schools of thought as well as fans of the television channel, strongly believe that the critical tone of the eTV could not be ruled out. They accept as true that government authorities considered Equinoxe Television to be pro-opposition in their coverage and as a result took advantage of the fact that it was operating without completing the necessary documents to slam the ban. But like eTV, nearly all other private television stations in the country are operating without a license.

Consequently, workers of the station were filled with dismay, with a greater part of them weeping as to what will become of them and their families in this period of hardship in the country where getting a job is not easy. “What am I going to do now? My hopes have been
Shattered by this decision. Government would have solved the problem without closing the station owing to the fact that many families rely on it for their survival” cried a worker, and father of four who claims he has over a dozen people under his care.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

WHO report: Smoking to kill 8 million yearly?

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Government urge to considerably step up taxation on the tobacco industry in bid to check creepy smoking trends

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that smoking may provoke 8 million deaths annually around the world by 2030 if sweeping measures are not urgently engaged. It should be noted here that Tobacco consumption is currently responsible for some
4.9 million deaths yearly, according to the world health body.
WHO director, Dr. Margaret Chan, regretted at the 14 February publication of the “exhaustive analysis” of the global anti-smoking situation that too little was being done to reverse prevailing trends. On the other hand, only about 5 percent of the world’s population is currently protected by anti-smoking legislation
In about 40 percent of countries of the world, and especially in developing countries, smoking is still allowed in schools and hospitals! In Cameroon for example, the law banning the advertisement of cigarettes and smoking in public are far from being implemented.
And the situation is further compounded by the fact that tobacco industries globally generate fiscal revenue estimated at more than 500 times the amount disbursed by governments and other public entities for anti- smoking campaigns. Inter alia, the report recommends the urgent search
for new and durable financing source and strategies to help discourage smoking around the world.
It also urges governments to considerably swell taxes on the tobacco industry in their various countries. Such a move would provoke hikes in the costs of tobacco products and possibly contribute towards the campaign to dissuade people from taking up the habits or those already hooked up with smoking to quit. However, it remains to be seen if such recommendations
would be embrace in a country like Cameroon where public advertising and promotion of cigarette products is routine.
Through a project dubbed MPOWER, the WHO is still hoping to beef up the fight. MPOWER seeks to monitor consumption trends, strategise on prevention mechanisms, and assist persons willing to drop the habit, prohibit advertising and generally ameliorate
dissuasive strides.
Even so, and due to a certain lackluster approach to the problem by mostly governments in developing countries, many people and especially youth and women are aggressively being targeted by the tobacco industry that is shifting attention from Europe and America where many are increasing giving up smoking.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Counterfeit Money on high circulation in Cameroon

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Source of the money remains a mystery as even security officials have been receiving them as bribe

There has been an overflow of forged money (both local and foreign) in the Republic of Cameroon, of recent and particularly in the country’s economic capital of Douala. A young man barely escaped lynching here when an irate mob pounced on him for attempting to dupe a woman with a forged 10.000 FCFA banknoterecently. He was only timely saved by patrolling police.

Such scenes are fast becoming routine in the country and especially urban areas where staffers at bank, micro-finance, money exchange outfits and fuel pumping stations admit they are increasingly detecting dozens of counterfeit money daily. Here, customers jumble them with good ones to carry out their transactions’ “Look at this stack here. They are all fake money
customers’ mix with good ones. We suffer the losses”. A bank worker explained.

The sham currencies now abundantly mingling in the country come in all form; from coins through available banknotes.

At some markets vigilant traders spend time facing banknotes against the sun to verify their geniuses before customers can be served. Other throw coins on cement floor and listen absorbedly for the reverberation produced before they can accept them. But where the abundantly circulating counterfeit money emanates from is yet secrecy. Some traders who have quite a number say they are scared of contacting the police because they may end up earning accusations as manufacturers of the fake money. They wait patiently and try, on their turns to dupe unsuspecting and less-
frequent customers. Taxi drivers are not spared in the exchange as some night passengers make use of counterfeit money for
their fare.
A taxi driver once said he has been severally warned by some bribe-taking policemen on the road not to dare give them counterfeit money or they will deal with him.
Another solution, the most conventional probably is the increasing usage of detectors, to read out fake banknotes from valid once. But these are only mostly available at the big financial institution and supermarkets. And that is only as far as it can go, as
those dealing in coins generally remain at the mercy of the counterfeiters and their supposed network of changers.

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Recurrent Jail Breaks in Cameroon: a threat to social peace

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

Population attributes it to corruption and poor working condition of warders

The recent jail break at the New Bell Prison in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital simply came to expose the problems besetting Cameroonian prisons which are as old as the lifespan of the prisons. From infrastructure to management, both weaknesses have been largely held responsible for the recurrent jail breaks around the country, with social peace threatened when armed bandits break jail making away with weapons belonging to warders. From Tchollire, Mantoum and Yoko, passing through kondengui, Bamenda and the Sa’a prisons, where there
has been recurrent jail break of recent, the most severe of the problem is infrastructure. Take for
example the Bamenda main prison where since its creation the fence around the place has never been completed. The sparsely doned iron bars that deter delinquent inmates from fleering have all rotted. The Buea production prison has simply been reduced to a dungeon with all the trades usually offered inmates abandoned. And just like in Bamenda, inmates in Douala have taken advantage of the dwarfed fence and degrading surroundings to stage their escape. Even the
much dreaded kondengui prison in Yaounde was so vulnerable that it only took courageous guards to deter escapees

Working Conditions for Warders
The other problem which seems to be splitting hair is the working conditions of warders. How can one imagine that a prison guard in a city like Douala or even Yaounde, the national capital with a wife and children has to go through thick and thin to survive FCFA 45.000 upon recruitment? One of them even confessed with tears that he was retiring on FCFA 80.000 after
30 years of service. This kind of situation including their poor working conditions make them easy target for those who may buy their way out of Jail. Like Yoko in the centre province recurrent jailed breaks have also been linked to corruption.

Although the situation in Yoko seems complicated the guards in Douala might have gone down cap in hand to salvage the situation. After one of the breaks at New Bell Prison the
superintendent blamed the warders for not firing even a shot to alert the local population for an immediate manhunt of the escapees. Consequently talks are rife in town and especially these areas on how bandits who were serving jail terms from 25 years and above would be a serious threat to the local population and social peace.

The two escapees who were arrested after the last jail break in Douala made confessional statements declaring that plans to free themselves were hatched weeks back. Thus it somehow becomes glaring rightly or wrongly that their action got the blessings from the house. The other problem that looks more of a quest of morals is the congested nature of the prisons and the long
periods taken to render justice to inmates. It is no news that of prisoners in Cameroon’s 70
prisons are awaiting trail.

The New Bell prison which was originally meant for 700 people, for example, is today home to more than 3500 inmates. The same holds for other prisons around the country. The uncomfortable situations in which they find themselves always push them to long for freedom. The worrisome problem in all these is that government always appears to have solutions which are never concrete.

When some 300 out of the close to 3500 warders, according to Amadou Ali, the country’s Minister of Justice, embarked on a strike action in early January 2007 to press for better working conditions the Minister instead applied draconian sanctions (arresting, dismissing and questioning some of the prison guards) which never solve the problems. The Secretary of State for Penitentiary Administration, Emmanuel Ngafeeson who after the kondengui incident which occurred sometime last year promised to decongest the prison is yet to inform the nation on what has been dine so far because almost a year after nothing concretely seems to have been done.

With the constant jail breaks around the country it is not certainly overstatement to say Cameroonians might get up one day to find the cells of one or more of its prisons empty with the accompany consequences on social peace and order.

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Hunting dog rescues buried day old baby Mother had buried it in a shallow grave in a fallow bush

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

A hunting dog recently rescued a day-old baby boy in Bafoussam, Western Province of Cameroon, after the mother buried it in a shallow grave in a fallen bush.
In effect, the child was instantly named Dieudonne (God’s gift) meaning that he will survive adversity. The baby’s luck came immediately when a hunter accompanied by his dog also went to farm. While he was occupied digging a rat mole, his dog sniffed round and discovered the baby’s grave and instantly scratched the surface. And behold there emerged the child which
the hunter immediately pick up and rushed back to town for medical attention. The child had just been born earlier that night.
After cleaning it, the child was found to weight 3.5kg. Nurses at the Bafoussam Provincial Hospital that attended to the baby said they were confident that his life was in no danger.
Amazingly, officials at the Bafoussam Provincial Hospital where the child has taken up residence denied any press photographs of the child.
Meantime, authorities have declared a manhunt for the mother of the child who had not been found by the time I was writing this story
It should be noted here that abandonment of babies is quite common in Cameroon in these times of massive unemployment in the country. Thus, mothers prefer to do away with pregnancy or baby immediately after birth due to poverty.

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National Assembly Session: Constitutional revision not on tentative programme Bill on decentralization high on agenda.

Courtesy: The Herald

Is President Paul Biya up to his usual tricks by disguising his intention until the last minute? or he
is yielding to widespread opposition at home and abroad over his intention to modify the constitution?
A programme of next month’s session of the National Assembly that has been leaked to The Herald, by dependable intelligence source, does not include a bill on the controversial revision of the constitution.

But our informants who usually know the programme of the house in advance said that if the bill will show up at all during the March session, then it would be brought in only at the last minute to avoid a leak. On the contrary, it is a bill on decentralization and one other bill that our source did not name that are on the tentative agenda Our informants did not give us any details on the
content of these two bills. But it is believe that the decentralization bill is to render operational the
work government plans to devolve power to urban and local councils.
On the proposed constitutional revision, Paul Biya is unpredictable. If he will table a bill in that regard, he would most probably have to keep it until the eve of the date of tabling.
And given the overwhelming majority of the CPDM in the house the bill could be passed in the twinkle of an eye by acclamation.
That could be on the last day of the session. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Paul Biya showered the bureau of the National Assembly with money during last
November’s session.

It is believed that he did this to create a conducive atmosphere within the assembly in preparation for the eventual passage of the bill on the controversial revision of the constitution to facilitate his stay in office beyond 2011.
For no other evident reason, he gave free car allowances ranging from 8 million to 60 million FCFA. Money which is free and non reimbursable.

Ordinary parliamentarians received 8 Million France each, bureau secretaries 30 million, questors 40 million, vice presidents 45 million, Senior-Vice president 50 million and the president 60 million FCFA.
New bureau members received at least 2 million FCFA home furnishing allowance.
This reporter also learned that in addition to these generous allowances, some parliamentarians were appealing to the president to reimburse all payments that they had made on their car loans.
Furthermore there has been a movement within the assembly pressing the government to increase the monthly salary of MPs and the micro-finance yearly allowance of 8 million FCFA.

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Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): the number one Silent Killer on Earth

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

CVD may exist with no obvious symptoms or pain. In the 20th century, cardiovascular diseases were referred to as the ‘scourge’ of the century. Today (21st century), it is still the first cause of death in the world. Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally and the illness is projected to remain the leading cause of deaths well into the future. According to the United Nations, an estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005 representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 7.6 million were due to heart attacks and 5.7 million were due to stroke. 80 percent of which the UN estimates occurred in low-and middle-income counties.

Gloomy as these statistics are, heart specialists are optimistic about the fight against heart problems. They say cardiovascular disease may exist with no obvious symptoms or pain.
When symptoms are present, they vary depending on the extent to which the normal flow of blood to the affected organ is interrupted. When the interruption of blood supply to the brain or heart is severe, some or all of the following symptoms can be experience. Heart attack symptoms include central chest pain with an oppressive or squeezing feeling that lasts for few minutes; chest pain that can spread to the neck, shoulders and or arms; and chest discomfort, along
with light-headedness, sweating, faintness, nausea or shortness of breath.

Stroke symptoms include weakness of the arms or legs; a loss of feeling in the face or body; difficulty speaking; sudden loss of vision in one eye; dizziness; and a sudden, intense headache,. Finally, congestive heart failure symptoms include a swelling of the lower extremities, referred to as ‘peripheral edema’, intolerance to exercise followed by shortness of breath; fatigue; and a cough. A person may have cardiovascular disease without experiencing any symptoms, a situation referred to as silent ischemia. Experts caution that people should contact their doctors as soon as possible if they experience any of the above symptoms. Conventional medical treatments may help relieve the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, but they fail to address the roof of the problem. Cardiovascular disease experts claim can be stopped and even reversed by natural medicine therapies that address the underlying cause of the disease.

Situation in Cameroon
In Cameroon for example, studies have shown that deaths due to cardiovascular and metabolic disease occupy an important place on the mortality lists of hospitals around the country. Curbing the increasing cases of heart disease has been a major preoccupation of health experts in the country.
Professor Wali Muna, President of the Cameroon Society of Cardiology, says heart attack remains the most frequent amongst the CVD as it is estimated that heart attacks represent between two to six percent of illnesses. Amongst the cardiovascular illnesses, high
blood pressure is very frequent in the urban areas as it estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the population suffers from high blood pressure. Statistics also indicate that 40 percent of Cameroonians are at risk of suffering from high blood pressure.

Situation amongst Children
Hear diseases do not just kill the elderly, it is also the leading cause of death for all groups of people. Medical experts note that thousands of infant born each year have congenital cardiovascular defects. Of those who have these defects, 4-10 percent have atrioventricular septal defect. 8-11 percent has coarctation of the aorta. 9-14 percent have tetralogy of Fallout, 10-11 percent have transposition of the great ventricular septal defect. Other children will
develop acquired heart disease in the future, cardiologists say, if appropriate action is not taken
by 2015; an estimated 20 million people will die from cardiovascular disease every year, mainly from heart attacks and strokes. Worthy is the fact that the situation is not unique to
Cameroon. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), principally heart disease and stroke, are most nation’s leading killer for both men and women amongst all racial and ethnic groups. In the United States of America, almost one million people die of CVD each year, which adds up to 42 percent of all deaths in the country.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Kenya: How Close to the brink we all are

By Prof. Tazoacha Asonganyi

Following the ill-fated general elections in Kenya, the people went on the rampage and left over 1000 dead! The politicians had pushed the people to the brink so often that when they got over the brink, they did not pay attention to the complete and angry rupture that had resulted! Contempt of death became the order of the day for the people, and rendered the unjust regime helpless.

This happens to be the collective fate that lays in wait for Cameroonians. Fuzziness usually percolates reporting on Africa related to such ruptures: a particular pattern of behavior is taken to demonstrate the existence of a particular political culture, and is then explained by that political culture. Ethnicity is assumed to be the source of all evil and used to explain all failures. Wrong conclusions are reached using a faulty methodology based on the false premise that certain values are foreign to Africa and therefore their mere practice is always a giant step on the road to democracy. And so the biased reporting, that Africans are much comfortable with chief-like leadership, ethnic tensions and divisions, and such thrash.

This was the fate of the Kenyan debacle. Journalists from countries where millions of souls have been sacrificed to defend human dignity (the rule of law, freedom, liberty, justice ...) suddenly turn around and report angry reactions in Africa to the violation of these values with disdain that smacks of racism and arrogance. Yet, most of them have a long experience of life in multi-ethnic nations where people of many heritages and faiths live and prosper in peace, because they live in freedom, liberty and justice. History has never been kind to nations that flouted the rights and aspirations of their people. Such nations may present a calm and tranquil landscape, but it is rife with subterranean discontent. They are littered with governments that are not committed to the most deeply rooted popular aspirations.

In spite of repeated calls for identifying and institutionalizing values that enable democracy to withstand the onslaught of usurpers and tyrants, they prefer to fabricate false majorities to manipulate the daily lives of the people. In the process, a material basis for complete rupture with the regime in our country has been provided, whether knowingly or not.

Revolutions, it is usually said, always have a material basis. The call to change the constitution of our country to allow a single individual to perpetuate his reign has emerged as the basis for its advent! It has emerged to channel the discontent that many Cameroonians feel against the regime into civic activism. The call has not only disillusioned people of good faith, but has alienated members of the regime that were preparing to take over in 2011. They will support this civic activism, not because they like it but because they want to take advantage of it to push their sit-tight man out to create the space they are longing for.

It is certain that getting over the brink may lead to some terrible evils, but there are worse things, including the permanent refusal of all that makes life relevant. Freedom, justice and democracy cannot be bargained away at any cost because no people can afford to be exempt from them in our fast changing world. The impending debacle engineered by the regime may be made
worse by appeals to ethnic, religious and traditional bonds to confuse and dampen the people’s anger and revulsion. But revolutionaries are never political virgins: they are aware that the rights they fight for serve to preserve both diversity and unity.

When there is total rupture, everyone will invoke peace as if it is an absolute that is not conditioned by some contracts. Peace is not enough without freedom and justice... History has repeatedly demonstrated that in some circumstances, it is necessary to sacrifice peace if freedom and justice are to prevail. There will also be efforts to prevent people from letting out their steam through peaceful democratic actions, but this will be in ignorance of human nature, which is not quite that simple!

The carnage in Kenya started slowly, with ruthless repression by the regime. But it is the regime that ended up on its knees, not the people. If the ideas being totted around as justification for a
constitutional amendment were so good, the regime would have introduced them long before. Their only intention is to permit Paul Biya to hang on after2011. They will succeed only at the risk of pushing us over the brink.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

EU Uncovers FCFA 400 Billion yearly fraud in Cameroon.

The European Union has made startling revelations that over FCFA 400 billions are siphoned from the coffers of the state of Cameroon yearly. The report which focused on the investment climate in the country and the economic performance since the attainment of the HIPC
Initiative completion points shows that current economic growth trend is not sustainable as it is
accounted for principally by external loans. The report which comes on the tills of arrest, trial
and jailing of a number of alleged billionaires and embezzlers in the country accordingly corroborates an earlier report published by the World Bank indicating that 40% of Cameroon’s investment budget went into private pockets making it practically difficult for ongoing economic reforms to yield the expected results.

The report estimated that the forest sector which is the major contributor to the state revenue after petrol and agriculture is losing some FCFA 50 billion every year due to illegal timber exploitation. Besides the forestry sector, the report made it clear that Cameroon is also losing out hundreds of billion of francs CFA of its customs earnings and fiscal revenue collection due to deep-rooted corruption practices. To compound matters the public service and the process of award of public contracts in Cameroon are said to be characterized by a chain of corrupt practices depriving the state treasury of billions of FCFA.

The corruption stakes remain radically sky-scraping and irritating, despite the fact that the country’s position in this year’s Transparency International corruption perception indices improved marginally by two places. The report by Transparency International which placed Cameroon 138 out of 180 countries thus indicated that the country is improving slightly by three places from 141 last year. To say the least, it’s an open secret that TI’s rating has always placed Cameroon amongst the most corrupt countries in the world and twice she has championed the table.

Instead of accepting the judgment and seek out solution on how to improve on the situation, the government of Cameroon always finds it difficult to let drop the feasibility of the findings although she however acknowledges the seriousness of corruption trend in Cameroon as well as the need to heap on a fight. This could explain why important measures put in place claiming to fight corruption seem to bring into being below expectations.

No doubt Paul Tessa, president of the newly created anti corruption commission in the country better known by its French language acronym CONAC, told the press recently that the first thing to do to stop the corruption shame in Cameroon, is the need for suitable political will in opposition to phenomenon. Tessa recently said, “Our first target group is the schools because we think that this innocent group has to be protected from contamination at all cost of we have to succeed in this fight”, Tessa, opined.

The CONAC president further told the press that his commission will also concerned with the putting into application article 66 of the country’s constitution on the declaration of assets of all those who hold public office so as to avoid appointees from feeding fat from funds meant to get better the bunch of the general public who are leaving in abject poverty. To him, it was not changing of nomenclature that matters but the will and a change of mentality through sustainable education and a sense of patriotism.

To show government lack of political wills to stop corruption Cameroon has put in place a series of anti-corruption structures, structures which many Cameroonians describe as white elephant with no operational powers. CONAC, the most recently created and placed under the control of the presidency of the republic, many Cameroonians like Ntungwe Elias Ngalame, has only come to add to existing anti-corruption structures like; the national financial investment agency, the national governance program as well as the series of ministerial anti-corruption units.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Mount Cameroon Race of Hope: Three-time winner bounces back

Over 700 Athletes from five different countries crossed the finish line

The 2008 edition of the Mount Cameroon race of hope is now History. Over 700 Athletes from six Countries (Belgium, France, Nigeria, USA, Germany and Cameroon) took part in the race which took place on Sunday 17th February 2008, in the South West Provincial capital of Buea-Cameroon. This year witnessed an increase in the number of athletes, against 525 year.

The race which is a yearly event was run in three main categories ; Junior, between 17 and 19 years, senior, 19 years and above, and Veterans which had the oldest runner Tchapda Huber born in 1942.

At the end of the day three time winner Ngongah Pongah Charles, came in the first position after by –passing his main rival (Bonkiyung Januariouse) by few steps to the finish line. He had been first in the year 2002, 2003 and 2004. Two time winner Bonkiyung Januariouse, came in second, meanwhile three time winner (1999, 2000, 2001) Shai Kongnyui Roland, who scrolled to the finish line last year, came in third.

In the female category, last years winner, Ngawang Catherine, came in first, followed by seven time winner, 41-year-old mother of seven, Sarah Liengu Etonge, aka "Queen of the mountain", while little known Ngalim Lizeth Nalima, came in third.

Equally, the winners in both male and female categories bagged home CFA 3million each, against CFA 2million and CFA 1million for the second and third respectively

The relay was championed by the Cameroon 1 team, followed by Milano athletic team, from Kumbo, and Athletic Club of West Province.

Prior to the event athletes were screened on HIV/AIDS, and vaccinated against Malaria, and Tetanus.

Other activities to crown this years event included; choral and musical concerts, Catch, Carting, Roller Skating, dancing, mobile caravan and a “Miss Race of Hope”

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Wetlands; spring for socio-economic development, and health hazards

Since the signing of the Ramsar Convension on Wetlands on 2 February, 1971 in Ramsar - Iran, Wetlands and their Management have gained much attention from both government and international organisations worldwide. Experts say the attention is necessary given the important role wetlands play in bringing about Socio-economic development. Wetlands, experts explain are a rich source of fish, crustaceans, many living species, wood, medicinal plants etc. But experts warn that this veritable spring of socio-economic development could also be a source of health hazards if not well managed. Disease like malaria, cholera, onchocerciasis, food poisoning, etc, they say could result from poorly managed wetlands.

That is why the United Nations have set aside an international day of wetlands. The day gives an
opportunity for environmental scientists and policy makers to sensitize people in the importance of preserving wetlands in the environment such as mangroves and creeks as a way of protecting the ecosystem and arresting the adverse effects of climate change.
In Cameroon for example the government through the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (W.W.F.), recently organized an occasion to sensitize the public on the importance and dangers of wetlands. organized under the theme; “Healthy Wetlands, healthy people”, the event which took place at the Mvog-Betsi Zoological garden in the nation’s capital of Yaounde brought together partners of the environment sector as well as school children from different schools.

In Cameroon statistics from the Ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection show that two new sites have been included in the Ramsar convention list of Wetlands of International importance. These include; the Waza-Logone dam in Northern Cameroon and the Lake Barombi-Mbo in the South West Province. While stating that the country gained adhesion to the Ramsar convention on January 13, 2006 based on her
efforts in preserving and conserving wetlands, Cameroon’s minister of the Environment and Nature Protection said efforts are underway for Cameroon to register more wetland in the Ramsar sites. Also that this year a section of the river Sanaga has been classified in the Ramsar site
It should be noted here that Wetlands play an important role in human life because of their diverse values

Though Cameroon has made great strides in the preservation and conservation of wetlands, far more still needs to be done. Wetlands management in Cameroon is still at a vital stage. There is need for a clear multi-sectorial vision and strategy for the management of wetlands involving all the stakeholders – ministries concerned as well as national and international agencies” said Martin Tchamba of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Cameroon Whatever the case the key message therefore is to protect wetlands because they are a source of life

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Friday, February 15, 2008

International community now hunting Cameroon’s mineral


The united states of America, President Bush’s country is actively present in the little locality of Nkamouna a few kilometres after Lomie in the East province where it is exploring and exploiting Cobalt and Nickel through its Cameroon branch of GEOVIC, code name Geovic Cameroon (GeoCam). This private company limited took the decision to develop Cobalt-Nickel in Lomie in 1995. An agreement was signed to that effect with government in 2002. As of mid 2007, about 53 million tons of ore containing 0.24per cent of cobalt and 0.7 per cent of Nickel had been collected at the exploitation site. Geologists continued to carry out precision studies on mineral characteristics. The Nkamouna project, proposes to begin construction in 2009 and to start mining shallow cobalt-nickel laterite hosted ore in 2009. It is estimated the 1.631 kilometre-square field would contain one billion tons of ore, one of the field technicians said last year. When exploitation finally starts, about 4,000 ton of cobalt and 3,000 tons of nickel will be exploited per year. Exploitation is estimated to cover a period of over 25 years. The project is expected to yield about 8 billion per year for the state and create at least 300 direct jobs. The Cameroon bauxite potential has equally been of interest to the Americans though things have not been completely formalised to enable them begin exploitation. The Adamawa deposits (Minim Martap and Ngaoundal) surpass one billion tons of reserves. When extrapolated prudently, we can expect about 2 billion tons of reserves. The possibility of its processing is largely based on the valorisation of the energy potential, which exists in the area.

They are working in joint venture with a Cameroonian private company, CAMIRON to extract iron ore in Mbalam, situated north of Ngoila in the East province. The entire project has been estimated at CFA15billion. The private Cameroonian company, obtained an exploitation permit in September, 2005 to carry out a thorough search of iron ore deposit in the area but Sundance Research Limited, an Australian company acquired 90% of the shares in CAMIRON in 2006 based on its commitment to provide financing and development expertise required to implement the project.
The final feasibility studies will be completed in 2008 while construction begins in 2009. However, work is already going on at the site. The deposit is estimated at 220 million tons. Sundance Resources Limited will build a railway connecting the areas to the seaside town of Kribi covering 400kilometres to facilitate its transportation. The project will provide about 800 direct and indirect jobs.

South Korea
The Koreans want to exploit the gold in Lom and Pangar in Betare-Oya in east Cameroon. The Lom-Pangar Hydro-electric Project will produce a reservoir of 5 million cubic metres of water. This water will completely cover the gold found in the area if nothing is done to extract it. The Koreans through the C & K mining and within the framework of the small scale Mining and Support Program (Cardre d’appui et de promotion de l’artisanant minier-CAPAM), are expected to exploit 13 tons of gold from the area. So far, only 15 kilograms of gold valued at CFA 140 million have been extracted.

The Canadians are effectively present in Poli in the North province where they have started exploitation. A little deposit of uranium of about 438 ton has already been located in the area. However, it would appear the real uranium is still to be determined. AU’s functioning criticized Dysfunctional structures, misplaced priorities and scanty coffers as obstacles to continental integration.
A panel of 13 eminent African specialists, assigned to evaluate the structures, functioning and management of various organs of the African Union (AU) recently submitted an unflattering report that casts a shadow on the effectiveness of the 50 year old continental union. In the over 270 – page report, examined by heads of state during the AU summit at Addis Ababa from 31 January to 2 February, the panel gives a long list of examples of the inability of the AU to meet its objectives through structural problems, insufficient human and financial resources and serious managerial shortcomings.
According to the panel of specialists from diverse fields, chaired by Adebayo Adedeji, former executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), AU summits spend too much time treating topics that have nothing to do with Africa’s integration. They criticised the absence of clarity in the objectives of the African Commission and other organs of the AU and condemned their poor management practices.
There also seemed to be a lot of wasteful expenditures. As of 2006 alone, the African Commission paid for 5241 trips by airplane. Most decisions of the AU, the panelists pointed out, are never implemented. For instance, the AU has taken 172 decisions in five years and the executive council has adopted 393 resolutions that have, unfortunately, remained paperwork. AU projects, the panel said, are characterised by opacity, which is the converse of transparent management that the union should be striving for. Most African countries were also slammed for not
regularly making their annual contributions to the AU. This has forced the AU to go cap in hand to Western countries to subsidise it. After enumerating many other shortcomings, the panel made 170 recommendations amongst which include; a call for the construction of a new democratic and economic order in which African peoples and not states would be the focus of the AU; the institution of an air ticket tax for the functioning of the AU; and ensuring faster
African integration.
On the other hand the 13 panelists warmed African leaders emphasizing that the choice was now between “progress” and “underdevelopment”. While underscoring the belief that Africans are so
disunited that they cannot solve their problems without outside intervention, the panel urged the
continent’s leaders to prove sceptics wrong by implementing these recommendations rapidly. But the African leaders returned home from Addis Ababa as usual.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Female Genital Mutilation Gain International Sympathy

The international community recently observed the first International Day against Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons is a barbaric act to womanhood. The practice violates the basic rights of women and girls and seriously compromises their health, posing risks during childbirth and leaving lasting physical and psychological scars.

Estimated statistics from the United Nations reveal that 120 to 140 million women have been subjected to the practice and three million girls continue to be at risk each year. Disturbingly, about 6.000 new cases of FGM are experienced every day, giving a ratio of about five girls every minute. Worthy is the fact that International organisations have not folded their arms to these cruel acts against women. Reason why the United Nations designed 06th February, as the international day against female Genital Mutilation in order to raise awareness amongst the general public about this cold-blooded act. It is however regrettable that the practice of FGM is still widespread in spite of a global commitment following the 2002 UN special session on children to end FGM by 2010.

Despite growing concern, some countries still find it difficult to have official statistics on the act. In Cameroon for example, experts from the county’s ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Family, say it is difficult to have statistics on the practice of FGM; given that those who practice it do so in hiding while victims of FGM are usually ashamed and afraid to testify in public due to traditional threats from kinsmen, stigmatisation etc. Nonetheless, a UN report estimates that about 20 per cent of women in the country go through a form of FGM called infibulations which occurs in certain areas of the south west and Northern provinces. little wonder why Cameroon joined the international community to commemorate the first International Day against FGM.

Suzanne Mbomback, the country’s minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, used the occasion to condemn the practice and underscored government’s commitment to respect and protect the rights of its citizens. On this score, the minister urged all to join in the fight against the barbaric act. The day was characterised by debates and film projections against the practice of FGM.

Courtesy – Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Dr recently presented a paper on his VANHIVAX vaccine and HIV/AIDS.

During a public conference organised by the Academy of Sciences recently Professor Victor Anomah Ngu said his vaccine, VANHIVAX, has treated many HIV/AIDS patients and 18 of them have seen their serological status converted from sero-positive to sero-negative.
The 18 patients represent the tip of the iceberg he says because most cured patients are scared to show-up due to stigma. According to the scientist, most AIDS patients, who arrived late at his Clinic of Hope with depressed immunity, were greatly improved by VANHIVAX but could not achieve sero-negativity. His present concern is to raise the immunity of AIDS patients, so that they too can receive definitive vaccination with VANHIVAX and so achieve sero-negativity. He adds that the vaccine works best if prepared from viruses grown in a region and used in the same manner it can serve as preventive vaccine in normal uninfected persons with normal immune competence in that region. According victor Anomah Ngu, VANHIVAX is thus the final Immunological solution to HIV/AIDS.

Professor Wally Muna, while presenting a paper on “Caveat of Biomedical Research in Developing Countries”, said Professor Anomah Ngu found a way to prepare a vaccine that has been able to get some patients who where sero-positive to become sero-negative. Wally Muna however said before making the big announcement, “let us put means together to know what VANHIVAX is all about with its resolutions, for this is not time for mediocrity, bias or prejudices”.

The Cameroon Academy of Science has looked at the information on VANHIVA and HIV/AIDS. The president of the academy, Professor Samuel Domngang, says they have no doubt about Professir Anomah Ngu’s VANHIVAX vaccine, but the problem now is to know the procedure and how they could make use of the information so that other people can benefit from the discovery.

Talking about the cost of VANHIVAX, Professor Anomah Ngu says those who come for treatment every month, pay CFA 12.000 and CFA 40.000 is being paid for a six-month vaccine. It should be noted here that the learned Professor, Anomah Ngu, started the research race on an HIV vaccine in 1981.
AIDS; still major health hazard in Cameroon With over 30.000 AIDS orphans in Cameroon according to the 2007 National AIDS Control Committee report, it is evident that the deadly HIV/AIDS is still a serious health problem here. In addition, the United Nations AIDS Organization (UNAIDS) report revealed in 2005 that an estimated 43.000 babies are living with the HIV virus in Cameroon and that 10.000 of them were in need of anti-retroviral drugs. Giulia Cappelli, researcher at the Chantal Biya HIV/AIDS Research Centre made known the frightening statistics recently. Meanwhile Health observers blamed the surge in the pandemic on growing promiscuity, stigmatisation inaccessibility to anti-retroviral drugs in some remote areas amongst others.

As part of activities to fight against the HIV virus and come to the assistance of 75 percent of AIDS patients and orphans in Cameroon by 2010, the Ministry of Public Health recently organised a two day workshop at the nation’s capital of Yaounde. Participants at the workshop who included health experts came up with proposals on how to further surmount AIDS in the country.

On his part the country’s Public Health Minister, André Mama Fouda sounds optimistic that in spite of the lapses still witnessed, the fight against HIV/AIDS was progressing steadily. Last year in addition to the many anti-AIDS campaigns, government announced the free distribution of anti-retroviral to AIDS patients in the country.

Free screenings and treatment of sexually transmissible disease have been carried out in schools
and most recently on the campus of the Country’s most populated University of Yaounde I.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Central African Countries More United in Fighting Crime

Ministers in charge of Security and Police Chiefs from the Central African Sub-region recently adopted a common strategy to fight crime.

Ministers in charge of Security and Police Chiefs in the Centre African Sub-region recently met in Yaounde-Cameroon, to set more solid bases for cooperation and joint operations to fight crime and insecurity that are deep rooted and getting sophisticated in the sub-region. The officials used
the ninth session of the Central Africa Ministers Forum in charge of Security and also the ninth meeting of the Central Africa Police Chief’s Committee (CAPCCO) to take greater commitments to fight crime that has put the economic and social development of the sub-region in jeopardy.

Cameroon’s Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency, Laurent Esso, opened the Minister’s forum and the Police Chiefs Committee session. Prior to the meeting of the Police Chiefs, experts met earlier within the framework of the Technical Sub-committee, Technical Commission of Directors of Judicial Police and the Heads of the National Central Bureaux of the International Criminal Organisation (ICPOINERPOL) to prepare recommendations. Recommendations which the Police Chiefs finally presented to Ministers in charge of Security for
policy and action, took into consideration the magnitude of crime and insecurity in the sub-region.

The different forms of crime which are widespread in the region include; cross-border crime, trafficking in women and children, parts of human body, ivory as well as drugs, armed-robbery, and car-theft and cyber crime.
In order to check crime the Ministers and Police Chiefs decided that prior to issuing a vehicle
registration number, officials will make attestation stipulating that a second hand motor vehicle imported in Central Africa sub-region does not feature in INTERPOL database on stolen vehicles. They also decided on the organization by the INTERPOL sub-regional bureau, in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency, of a training course designed to equip police investigations of the sub-region with techniques in the fight against trafficking in nuclear and radioactive substances; set up a technical Commission of Director in charge of border issues and integration in Central Africa.

The Yaounde meeting also recommended countries of the region to include, in their national budget, funding of CAPCCO operational activities, the effective opening of the Yaounde Training Centre specialised in criminal investigations with suitable training programmes to be drawn up for Frontier police officers, the recruitment of police staff for the Yaounde Sub-regional bureau, as soon as it is officially opened by member countries of CAPCCO amongst others.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The accord was signed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Director of VSO Cameroon

Cameroon recently signed a partnership agreement with an international non governmental organisation, VSO-Cameroon, geared towards promoting rural development. The document was signed for Cameroon by the Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), Jean Nkuete, and for the Voluntary Services Oversees by the country director,
Danny Pelletier.

According to the terms of this framework agreement, VSO-Cameroon and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will support centres for education and action, CEACs through capacity building on poverty alleviation. The two partners will equally draw up a national strategy for community development and look for finances nationally and internationally to finance
activities identified. They also resolved to establish a national data base on rural development
and set up a documentation centre on rural development. It should be noted here that VSO-Cameroon provided an international consultant who worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for six weeks to assess the state of rural development in Cameroon and proposed a methodology for the drawing up of a new community development strategy in Cameroon. The recommendations of the said consultant which were presented in a solemn ceremony last December, 12, 2007, are expected to be implemented as from this January and will contribute immensely in the fight against poverty in the rural areas.

The present accord to last ten years is fruit of negotiations that have been going between MINADER and VSO-Cameroon since two years. VSO-Cameroon currently has 45 volunteers in Cameroon working in three domains; HIV/AIDS, basic education in the North province and the promotion of good governance and decentralization. According to the national director for VSO-Cameroon the NGO is motivated by the fact that development is not money but people and people have to work to foster development. Danny Pelletier said the voluntary Service Overseas was no longer a British organization but a multi national one comprising people of different nationalities. He said the partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is the beginning and not the end of a long and fruitful relationship.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Paul Biya would not want George W. Bush to tell him outright to end his political fraud.
Mid this month of February, George Bush will undertake a one-week trip to Africa during which his tentative programme include Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

Regrettably, Cameroon is not on his programme. It is not clear whether the non-inclusion of Cameroon was the initiative of his journey planners or that Paul Biya did not invite him or they rejected Cameroon’s invitation.
At this critical time in the political history of Cameroon with Paul Biya manipulating the political
system to stay in power, the Americans may have considered a Bush stopover in Yaounde as an
endorsement of this.

Yet pundits think that a brief airport stopover in Yaounde might have been a welcome opportunity for the American president to tell Biya in his face to stop his political fraud.
But it is not ruled out that he could in his speech at Rwanda. He might state the US government’s position on the political tragedy unfolding in Yaounde.

To the special credit of Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, George Bush has been invited to Kigali during his visit, where he would attend a genocide memorial ceremony.

On that occasion also, some of the world’s leaders would be present namely, Tony Blair, Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister, Horst Keller, German president, Ban ki-Moon, the UN secretary general.

According to George Bush’s tentative programme, his visit will begin on 16 February, where he will have a two-hour airport stop over in Cotonou, where he will chat with President Yayi Boni.

He will then proceed to Tanzania, where he will visit Dar-es Salam and Arusha. On Tuesday, 19 February, he is at Kigali. From Rwanda he will return to West Africa where he will visit Ghana on the 20th and Monrovia Liberia on the 21st before returning to Washington.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

"Biya is a topical example of failed leadership, with a record to match".

(Open letter to George W. Bush)

George W. Bush will travel to
Africa for a short week next week. In his last year in office the trip is essentially a farewell to Africans. That notwithstanding the visit is an opportune occasion to
announce important policy initiatives by which he wants Africans to remember him. We of this newspaper plead with George Bush to use this trip to call Paul Biya’s life-presidency bluff, and save Cameroonians sure a catastrophe.

Dear President Bush,
We of this newspaper are delighted that you can find the time in this very busy last year of your administration to visit
Africa as you intend to do next week.

Seeing how much you will squeeze into the visit that will last hardly a full week, we appreciate it all the more that you give our continent such priority.

Further evidence of your administration’s interest in Africa is not far to fetch. Only a week ago in your state-of-the-union speech you called for an additional $30 billion for AIDS relief in Africa. You had previously granted $15 billion for the same purpose.

We thank you, and can assure you, Mr. President, that no African, conscious of the ravage caused by this plague on this continent, is insensitive to this mighty gesture of support by your administration.

Mr. President, you know as much as we Africans do that Africa, (Sub-Saharan Africa in particular), is mired not only in disease, but also in socioeconomic problems. The continent has failed to develop, even with the huge sums of foreign aid it has received over the decades.

Failed economies and failed social systems render life short, nasty and brutish. One of the unhappy consequences of this is the surge in economic migration from Africa about which we know you know a lot. Almost wholly responsible for this failure is leadership begets faulty political systems that are in turn manipulated to reinforce faulty leadership.

Dear President Bush, it is on account of the failed leadership in Cameroon and Cameroon’s grossly disappointing failure to develop that we address your good self this letter on the occasion of your coming trip to Africa. We are also publishing it in our newspaper because it is a matter of great public interest.

Specifically, we wish to draw your attention to an unfolding political tragedy. It is now official.
President Paul Biya wants to revise the constitution that limits him to two terms in office, the second of which ends in 2011, so that he may continue in office after that date.

This is a manipulation and a violation of the people’s right to change their leaders. Cameroonians are overwhelmingly outraged by this (A very recent Gallup poll puts at a staggering 84% the public opinion rating of president Biya).

Regrettably, Cameroonians by themselves are unable to stop president Biya in his strides. The opposition is weak, disorganized and helpless. The church once had a voice which it since lost in its policy of complacency with the regime.

The national assembly that will pass the amendment bill is itself a house whose members are hand picked by the directives of Biya himself. In one working day the amendment job would be done!

Mindful of their powerlessness Cameroonians have learnt to trust in the helpful intervention of their foreign partners and the International community as a whole whose assistance has often proved critical for the continued viability of the government.

No doubt the US takes as centre stage in this. Cameroonians know that American leadership in International affairs is essential to the cause of human rights and freedom. We doff our unflinching pursuit of these democratic values around the world.

Dear President, we recall with much delight that your administration vehemently opposed a similar development with the Obasanjo government in Nigeria not very long ago. Thanks to that position by the US government many state assemblies in turn opposed and killed the idea.

It is with pleasure that we also remember Niels Marquardt, the US ambassador who was posted from Cameroon last year July. Marquardt was an admirable diplomat and a man of great character. He has a profound understanding of the democratic yearning and aspirations of Cameroonians and often found the courage to speak his mind when Yaounde authorities
violated fundamental principles.

Marquardt gave heart to Cameroonians in the face of the high handedness of the self seeking regime in Yaounde. On the issue of the constitution to remove term-limits he spoke bodily and unequivocally. “We said no to it in Nigeria, we cannot accept it here”.

After what is happening in Kenya and now in next-door Chad Republic, even as we write this, Cameroonians are all the more anxious about the future of this country should Paul Biya proceed, as he appears determined to do, to keep himself in power beyond 2011.

Dear president Bush, on this occasion of your coming trip to Africa, we consider it most opportune to plead with you to summon Paul Biya and firmly call off his proposed plan whose end would only harm Cameroon.

That will be a sure favour that generation of Cameroonians will remember you for. Do not, please Mr President; fail to deliver Cameroonians from the tyranny of a small African despot whose un-progressive policies have rendered a much endowed country a poverty-stricken banana republic.

We are confident that your successor at the white house wouldn’t for anything be tempted to reverse your opposition to Biya’s life presidency megalomania, Biya is a topical example of failed leadership, with a record to match.

All international watchdogs, without exception, rank Cameroon among the poorest of the poor performers viz; Transparency International on corruption; Mo-lbrahim foundation on good governance; world bank business environment survey; UNDP human development report;
Human Rights watch; US Congress report, etc.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ranks Cameroon among 35 most “failing” states out of 177 countries examined. Due to its low performance rating Cameroon has not yet qualified to receive free monetary assistance from the Millennium challenge account thoughtfully, helpfully, provided by your administration.

Neither has Cameroon also been able to benefit from AGOA, the Africa growth Opportunity Act, put in place by the Clinton government to promote non-tariff export trade with the US.
What is blindingly conspicuous in looking down Paul Biya’s twenty-five unbroken years in office is the total absence of a development will.

Just imagine Mr. President all the many strong factors in favour of development. Twenty-five years in office (an eternity for an American president?), the absence of civil strife, the many natural resource of Cameroon viz; crude oil; timber, cash crops (cocoa, coffee, banana) and fertile agricultural soil across most of the country, hard-working people and well-trained manpower; all combine to point to leadership as the absent critical component in the way
of development.

It is for this reason that all true friends of Cameroon and those who care about the development of Africa must summon the courage to tell Paul Biya to retire in 2011 so that Cameroonians may be free to elect their next ruler.

President Bush, we trust you for speaking your mind and having the courage to do so. Thank you for rendering Cameroonians this favour. We love you.

Yours truly
Boniface Forbin
The Herald Newspaper

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Alarming rate of mother, child mortality in Cameroon

Health Minister launched a vast programme to boost the health of mothers and children
Cameroon’s minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, has expressed concern over the alarming rate of children who die before the age of five years and the number of women who die while giving birth in the country.

“For every 100,000 women, 600-700 die giving birth,” Mama Fouda disclosed at a press briefing at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel, recently, adding that the deaths are due to malaria, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.

To turn the situation around, Mama Fouda announced a vast campaign on maternal and child health and nutrition through a programme baptized “Week for actions on infant and maternal health and nutrition,” In course of the programme, the minister said, children between 0 and 5 years will be administered vaccines and vitamin A to boost their health and nutrition. Also children in East, South and South West Provinces of the country will be given drugs against parasitic worms.

Meanwhile Nursing mothers, for their part, will be administered preventive treatment against malaria and would also carry out consultations. The minister made it clear that the health campaign which falls in line with the objectives of the millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to which Cameroon adheres, will be free of charge.

It should be noted here that the MDGs, among other things, call for the reduction in infant and maternal mortality by two-thirds and three-quarters, respectively; relative to the 1990 level, target which is supposed to be met by 2015.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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Thursday, February 7, 2008


Medics attribute cause to growing consumption of narcotics, and poor management of stress.

The Cameroon Association of Mental Health has pinpointed drug abuse, poor management of stress, inter alia, as some of the most recurring reasons for soaring lunacy in the country.

Jean Louis Jon, psychiatrist at the Douala Laquintinie Hospital and Vice President of the association, said drug abuse among Cameroonian youth had become so dangerously rampant. He blamed galloping marijuana consumption, the sniffing of glue, amidst escalating availability of other narcotics for the rising numbers of mad people across the country.

The medic spoke on the sidelines of the association’s ordinary general assembly which took place in Douala recently. Little wonder why in course of the assembly, members renewed their engagement to continuously seek ways of promoting mental hygiene, as well as advocating on behalf of victims.

Created in 2003, the Cameroon Association of Mental Health has organized regular public sensitization workshops to school families counting mentally deranged persons among their fold and the general public. It has even organized frequent field descents at which members distribute clothing and medical items to mentally unstable persons in the streets of Douala.

However, it appears such strides, laudable as they may seem, have been insufficient. Costs of medication for people at the early stages of madness remain unaffordable for most families affected by the problem. Centres providing care for the mentally ill are deficient in financial and material endowment. And with fast eroding African family bonds, it is frequent to hear that a mentally deranged kin has been kicked out of the family home.

In more extreme cases, and according to evidence furnished by some of the association members, some victim families have been known to bring their mad kin and “dump” them in or around Douala. And so every year, the city welcomes new arrivals of mad people.
In fact, many have contested statistics from the association which indicate that
Douala counts only some 300 mad men and women combing its streets from dawn to dusk. “That is not correct because if you go to a neighbourhood like Terminus right now, you will not count less than 20 of them. They are permanently there… Then go to Marche Central and Akwa, you will end with more than a thousand…” Pa Ndumbe, a Douala native, argued.

However the Cameroon Association of Mental Health, which is mostly made up of victims’ family members, relatively stabilized mental patients, psychologists, and medics from various other fields, plans to double its efforts.

Courtesy - Harry Ndienla Yemti

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