Friday, August 29, 2008

London 2012 Olympics to cost about CFA 7 trillion

Great Britain would be striving to better the record set by China

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Though the 29th Olympics is still fresh in our memory, that of 2012, is around the corner. According to Syd Maddicot, British High Commissioner to Cameroon, the next Olympics which is expected to be hosted by his country, would cost an estimated CFA 7 trillion. It would be hosted under the theme: “Britain, be a part of it”.

He made the disclosure Sunday as he symbolically received the Olympic flag from the Chinese ambassador to Yaounde, Huang Chang Quing ,marking the start of London’s tenure as host of the 30th edition of the games coming up in 2012. The ceremony in Yaounde, was in remark of what took place in China where the Mayor of Beijing, Gud Jinlang, handed over the Olympic flag to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. As Britain assume host to the 30th Olympics, the flag will be hoisted over the closed to 400 diplomatic representations of the UK in the world.

The Yaounde event witnessed among others by Cameroon's minister of Sport and Physical Education

Augustin Edjoa and Ama Tutu Muna, of culture, gave Maddicott an opportunity to laud China for organizing the 29th games described by many as a very successful event. Hear him “They have been truly memorable from the magnificent opening to the closing ceremonies. The richness of the spectacle, the enthusiasm of the Chinese crowds, the wonderful venues, the Olympic spirit and sportsmanship of the athletes have taken these games down the records as a memorable one,”
Like in previous Countries, the high commissioner believe the Olympics, would help boost development and economic activities in his country
Though prior to the games, there were fears of pollution and insecurity, that almost marred the build-up to the games the Beijing Olympic would be remembered among others for the records it created. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, described the Beijing games as one in which new stars were born and those from previous games continued to shine. By tis statement every one would think of America’s greatest Olympian of all times Michael Phelps who set a new record, winning eight gold medals in swimming and the world's fastest man Jamaica’s Usain Bolt who won three gold medals breaking three world records were of great reference to the games.

Cameroon’s would also think of the person who brought glory to the nation Françoise Mbango Etone who retained her 2004 Athens gold medal in women’s hop, step and jump, setting a new Olympic record of 15.39m.
Infrastructure-wise, China reportedly possessed some of the best ultramodern playgrounds among which were the famous Bird-Nest stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies. China reportedly spent more than 40 billion dollars preparing for the games, ensuring state-of-the-art facilities and orchestrating a dramatic anti-pollution campaign that helped temporarily clear Beijing’s famously toxic air. On the other hand the Beijing games were marred by complaints from Tibetan and Muslim minorities of repression, dissidents were intimidated into silence or detained, and the Internet remained censored for foreign reporters despite promises it would be unblocked.
However, as Great Britain would be striving to better the record set by China, it would also seek to right the wrongs of Beijing 2008 so that London 2012 would be near perfect.

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Cameroon:Former Finance minister loses valises of bank notes to robbers

state cashier disappears with about CFA 3b

Although nobody has molested Meva' a m'Eboutou, former Cameroon's minister of finance (from 2001-2004) whose name is listed among the 59 serving and former public officials that the government is reported to have given to the American FBI to investigate their assets abroad, the Herald newspaper reports that the former minister recently lost valises of bank notes to robbers.
That Meva, naively welcomed the robbers who were disguised as police agents and told him they had come to search his village home at Nkoltoutou in the South province.

Apparently on a tip-off, “the men arrived at 3am on 22 August in a car with an SN number plate commonly known to be used by the police. They easily lifted away three hefty valises believed to be containing bank notes which could have amounted to billions of FCFA”.
Though the former minister quickly issued a statement declaring that the valises contained but valuable items and clothes many wounder why the former minister would keep his clothes folded in valises instead of hang them in a ward robe.

Similarly, the paper reported that Toukou Ibrahim, cashier of the main treasury in the country's economic capital of Douala has disappeared estimated with sum of between 800 million and 3 billion FCFA.

That the paymaster, Edou Olo’o Jean Louis, who has been fired from his post and now helping police in their investigations alerted the police and his Yaounde authorities of the incident after Toukou Ibrahim, reportedly dropped the key of his to the paymaster last 20th August.
Though the whereabout of Toukou is unknown, the Herald say Police sources suspect he boarded a flight for Paris. And that the theft was staged via infiltration into the treasury data bank by staffers who used their colleagues’ identities.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Newbell Prison fire Disaster: Will Government respect plans for new prison in Douala and others in the country?

Cameroon's vice prime minister of justice and keeper of the seal has announced governments' plans to construct a new prison in the economic capital of Douala and to rehabilitate the aged old Newbell prison. The prison which is said to be built at PK 19 is intended to decongest the overcrowded Newbell prison which is now surrounded with a series of problems.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Amadou Ali,whose ministry is in charge of prisons in the country made the statement at a news conference on the occasion of his visit to the Newbell prison to evaluate a recent fire disaster that killed nine inmates at the prison and also injured 78 others.

Minister Ali further told the press that a contract had been given to build a new prison with the capacity of accommodating 1,500 to 2,000 inmates. He maintained that the prison which is expected to cost an initial 118 million FCFA and located at PK 19 in the outskirts of Douala, on the Yabassi road would be completed next year.
The announcement gives a sign of relief that the newbell prison which was built in 1933 for about 800 inmates, but now holds four times that figure; that is 3,200 prisoners would be decongested. Only one in five of the Newbell inmates is a sentenced prisoner. While many others are detainees awaiting court trial, some have not even been charged.
Amadou Ali also announced that there will be extensive rehabilitation work done at the Newbell prison to the tune of 69 million FCFA.
Though at the time of construction in 1933 the Newbell prison was considered to be far away from town, today, the prison also suffers the disadvantage of being right at the centre of the county's economic capital and very closed to one of Africa’s busiest and most crowded markets - the Newbell market.
While the actual cause of the fire that occurred early Wednesday at about 4am is still unknown minister Amadou Ali said at the press conference in Douala that he suspected it was a crime intended to facilitate the escape of prisoners.

But it turned out to be the reverse as many also died or suffered injury as a result of being trampled upon by others in the mêlée. The death toll was nine dead and 78 with varying degrees of burns.
Only two months ago, armed law enforcement agents, following a tip off, shot and killed 17 prison inmates as they planned a mass escape from the said Newbell prison. December last year saw the escape of 20 prison inmates while Last March, there was yet an attempted jailbreak.
Coupled with the above problems the government had no option than to quickly make plans to decongest the Newbell prison which has become very volatile.

But given the government's apparent slow nature in reacting to emergency, some school of thoughts strongly believe minister Ali's announcement was just a smokescreen.

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February 2008 unrests in Cameroon:Lapiro returned to Mbanga prison

The prison transfer of the famed musician comes ahead of the resumption of his trial on 27 August over allegations that he incited youths to revolt during unrests last February

By Ntaryike Divine, Jr. in Douala

Incarcerated ace musician, Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo alias Lapiro, has changed prisons. The traditional ruler and SDF scribe arrested and detained since April this year for inciting youths to revolt during unrests last February, has been moved from the Nkongsamba prison to another in his native Mbanga.

His lawyer, Maitre Mouanfo, told reporters in Nkongsama Wednesday, 20 August that the transfer was requested by his client. He, however, failed to advance reasons. Eyewitnesses said the musician was clad in white as he was led away amidst tight police security in the company of his spouse.

Soon after his arrest, Lapiro was briefly held at the Mbanga prison before being transferred to Nkongsamba at the behest of the state prosecutor. His trial, begun last 8 July at the Nkongsamba High Court, will resume on 27 August. It will be the third time the famed musician will mount the docks to defend charges that he instructed droves of protesters last February to raze banana plantations and some companies in the Mbanga area. Lapiro has refuted the accusations.

Meantime, his lawyers, led by the SDF’s Augustin Mbami, rated as sharply contradictory evidence emerging against their client at the last court hearing. During a lengthy 15-hour- cross examination last month, a total nine witnesses including the mayor and DO for Mbanga, heaved particularly incriminating evidence against the musician.

Pierre Monama, a staffer with the Societé des Plantations de Mbanga [SPM], which was razed during the February protests, said the company managers rang Lapiro, imploring him to pacify raging rioters who had besieged the company premises. The mayor of Mbanga, Jacques Mbonjo said from his office window, he spotted Lapiro emphatically dishing out instructions to rioters on structures to tear down. According to him, the musician had more than a hundred riot-ready youth at his beck and call between 25 and 28 February.

Mbanga DO, Simon Nkwenti, said Lapiro claimed to be the only one capable of calming the riotous youth, and so he gave him the authority to do so. But he said the musician never reported back to him, and he was scandalised that the man he considered an opinion leader attempted to extort money from the SPM managers for the purpose. He said Lapiro engaged a bargain, demanding an upfront payment of between 500.000 and 2 million FCFA to placate the rioters.

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After excellent speech on Bakassi:Paul Biya must now make state visit to Nigeria – and soon too

If nothing else, the long and tortuous path of the return to Cameroon of Bakassi taught Paul Biya a powerful lesson in human and international relations. That lesson can be captured in the expression, ’heed thy word.’ That is what the Nigerians did. They promised to return Bakassi and did just that. Biya’s joy for that now knows no bounds. In one of his unusually fulfilling outings last week Biya announced a new era in relations with Nigeria. The next logical step for Biya is to undertake a state visit to Nigeria, if only to say thank you.

It is not always that Paul Biya has a convincing outing, given the many schemes he is constantly cooking up to guarantee his hold on power. His speeches often leave his hearers wondering if the effort was worth the while at all.

But it was a very different Paul Biya who addressed the nation last Thursday to express his joy over the successful handover of Bakassi by Nigeria to Cameroon.

In many ways Thursday’s ten-minute address was fulfilling. First and foremost, the speech, coming one week after the Bakassi handover was a timely assurance to Nigerians and the international community of Cameroon’s intention to respect the rights of the 30,000 to 40,000 Nigerians still living in Bakassi. That was smart.

The Greentree Agreement allows Nigerians the next five years to remain in Bakassi under the same conditions as during Nigerian occupation ie no residence requirements to Cameroon; no taxes by Yaounde. It was good not to waste time after the handover in giving this assurance.

Thursday’s speech also revealed a thorough-going neighbourly enthusiasm for Nigeria that no one would ever have suspected of Paul Biya. In all of Biya’s 26 years in office Cameroon has had a history of uncertain relations with its neighbours, notwithstanding common membership of CEMAC, the sub-regional economic union.

As for Nigeria, Yaounde has never been comfortable with its big and powerful western neighbour. Anglophones opted out of a political union with Nigeria in 1961 in favour of union with Francophone Cameroon.

The fear has always hounded Yaounde of some attempt by Nigeria to recover the Anglophones. But Nigeria has never expressed any such expansionist ambitions, not even with the Bakassi border conflict. Neither have Anglophones in their dissatisfaction with the union ever entertained second thoughts about Nigeria.

To compound relations that were barely cordial, Paul Biya practically closed the door to relations with Abuja following the military occupation of Bakassi in December 1993. No contact; nothing.

This was an error caused essentially by an overestimation of the power of the ICJ verdict which Yaounde was confident would come its way. Yaounde filed a case at The Hague in 1994. A major diplomatic incident caused by Biya illustrates this overestimation of the power of the expected verdict.

Abdulsalami Abubakar who assumed power in Abuja following the demise of Sani Abacha in 1998 decided, upon examining the issue, that he would take the responsibility of handing back Bakassi on a platter of gold to Cameroon.

Jacques Chirac

But to his surprise Paul Biya wouldn’t even pick up the phone whenever he called! Even after Jacques Chirac intervened and arranged a meeting, Biya left Abubakar waiting for three hours at the Nsimalen airport! What more evidence that he couldn’t care less about whatever the Nigerian had for him.

It took the wisdom and ceaseless efforts of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to get Biya even to begin to say ‘good morning’ to Olusegun Obasanjo and shake hands with him.

This pre-verdict dialogue turned out to be very helpful to Biya who only realised after the ICJ verdict that even with it the road to the handover was still a long, long way to go. Biya learnt gradually, painfully that it was instead Abuja not Yaounde that held the trump card for the handover of Bakassi after all.

For the taciturn and unenthusiastic talker that he usually is, Biya must admit that he owes Kofi Annan a debt of gratitude that words alone cannot settle. It was Annan who worked up Obasanjo who often vacillated.

Biya since understood that it was Greentree that actually marked the turning point of the eventual return of Bakassi. But then see how far the road was from the October 2002 ICJ verdict to Greentree in June 2006! See how much summit talking there still was to do.

And even then, given the frailty of humans, if not Obasanjo himself, his successor Umaru Yar’adua could still have had some reservations on the matter, with good reason, seeing the huge opposition at home. Biya himself knows how so often he has reneged on his pledges, sometimes for no reason of principle.

In the end the Bakassi case has proved to be excellent schooling for Biya. One of the powerful lessons he must have learnt is to gain a sense of perspective, that is, to perceive things in their true relationships, neither overestimating nor underestimating anything or anybody.

Biya’s next most important lesson, the one that visibly moved him, was the evident goodwill, the trustworthiness and the determination of the Abuja authorities to heed their word. This is surely the lesson that sent Biya through the roof!

Biya simply could not believe it! The president vibrated with such overwhelming joy and thorough-going enthusiasm for Nigeria you could feel it from the television screen. Bursting with those strong positive emotions Biya shone with unusual radiance and looked much younger than his 76 years!

Was it really believable that overnight Biya had become so enthusiastic about Nigeria? Cameroon and Nigeria he said must now go beyond Bakassi «to develop their relations in all fields.»

Brothers and sisters

For the first time ever Paul Biya referred to «our Nigerian brothers and sisters,» and issued a blank check for the security and guarantee of their rights for those who live in Cameroon.

The president pressed forward,»…the future of relations between our two countries is bright.» Biya called for the promotion of «mutually beneficial ties of friendship and cooperation» between our two peoples. «I intend to lend my full support to such relations.»

For those who didn’t understand him or just tuned in Biya closed his address again hammering home his new-found love for Nigeria»…this is the dawn of a new era in relations between Nigeria and Cameroon…»

For those who know Biya’s problems with CEMAC it was tempting to suspect that the new-found enthusiasm for Nigeria was also a way of indicating his total disgust for the sub-regional organisation which continues to lack cohesion, fifteen years after its creation.

Be that or not a new era has now dawned in Cameroon-Nigerian relations and Biya has done an excellent job of articulating this. The next logical thing to do is for Biya to undertake a state (or working) visit to Nigeria in the weeks ahead.

The purpose of the visit would be to thank the authorities and the people; and restate Cameroon’s commitment to respect the rights of Nigerians living in Bakassi. Nigeria would, of course be the best place to announce the dawn of a new era in Cameroon-Nigeria relations.

The visit is a must that nothing else can replace. It would also be the first step in the new era of relations. If it will be effective it must not delay. Unlike Cameroon Nigeria is a much bigger, segmented and faster moving society. A visit intended to capture the Bakassi mood must not therefore delay.

It would be in the spirit of the visit to announce certain decisions intended to make life easier for Nigerians living in Cameroon, and other concessions made to Nigeria to concretise the new relationship, such as scholarships to study in Cameroonian universities or to train in the school of translation and interpretation.

The visit could also be the occasion of the first meeting of the two countries to re-examine relations and what they can do for each other; new cooperation agreements, etc.

It would be in the interest of such a visit for Paul Biya to address the Nigerian parliament in Abuja. A thank you visit should not be limited to Abuja. Three or four other important cities like Lagos, Kano, Calabar and Maiduguri would be fine.

But whether the scope is wide or narrow a thank you visit to Nigeria by Paul Biya in the very near future is now a priority – after Biya’s new-found love with that great western neighbour.

Courtesy, The Herald

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Enforcing court decisions

By Tazoacha Asonganyi,

More often than not, social interactions in every society breed conflicts. It is the role of the court to resolve such conflicts. The court system uses intelligence and the moral sense to contain and regulate the beast in members of society, to contain the emotions that give rise to these conflicts.

At the end of the drama that usually marks conflict resolution in court comes the court decision. Following such a decision, it is not the court that enforces its own decision; it is the executive branch, the government that ensures its enforcement.

Sometimes this set-up seems to lead to arbitrariness, to leave the perception that the system serves to regulate the affairs of those who have power to the detriment of the powerless. Such perceptions are only reinforced by the unfolding drama of the Kohtem murder case; they are only reinforced by the thousands of faceless cases in courts in Cameroon behind which litigants sweat for years without seeing the end of the tunnel; they are only reinforced by the usual delays in the evacuation of conflicts related to elections.

In any case, the courts are supposed to uphold the rule of law and control the misuse of power by the powerful, whether they are individuals or whole countries. Conflicts between countries are judged by the International Court of Justice (the World Court or ICJ). The ICJ is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations (UN) that is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

The ICJ was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, and began work in 1946. Decisions of the court are binding on UN member countries, and are enforced by the UN Security Council, although this can be made tricky by the veto power of the five permanent members of the Council.

It is now history that the Bakassi case that pitted Nigeria against Cameroon was judged by the ICJ. Because of the realpolitiks of the five members of the Security Council for whom self-interest usually overrides the interests of other members, it would have been complicated to leave the enforcement of the decision of the ICJ on Bakassi on the table of the Security Council. Instead, the Secretary General of the UN together with the parties crafted an enforcement instrument known as the Green Tree Accord. This allowed the successful enforcement on 14 August 2008 of the ICJ decision.

It is usually when we lose or win an important football match that the important role of a neutral referee comes to light, and temporarily turns our minds to the importance of such neutral refereeing in an equally emotion-packed competition like elections. Similarly, it is proper after the court victory of Cameroon over Bakassi to focus our thoughts on the important issue of the impartiality of a law court and the rigorous enforcement of its decisions.

Everybody is talking about the need to emulate the Bakassi example in Africa. But we should not stop at viewing Bakassi with the lenses of conflicts between nations. It will be more helpful to view it simply as the resolution of a conflict by a court of law and the subsequent enforcement of the court decision. Viewed in this light, we would be highlighting the role court decisions and their enforcement play not only to shape the economic success of a community but also to maintain peace and harmony between its members.

As we celebrate the successful enforcement of the decision of ICJ on Bakassi that marks the triumph of the «weak» over the «strong», we should reflect on the usual manipulation of courts and the sloppy enforcement of some court decisions in Cameroon that usually leave the impression that the law belongs to the rich, the privileged or the powerful.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

After Bakassi handover: SW elite clamour for fair share of dev’t

SWELA secretary general, Enow Orock George, says despite the fact that the South West contributes about 75 percent to the country’s GDP, the province has little to show in terms of development

By Ojong Steven Ayuk in Yaounde

The South West Elite Association (SWELA) has indicted the government for not bringing development to the South West in spite of the enormous contributions that the province makes to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

SWELA secretary general George Enow Orock made the disappointment of the South West province known during an interview he granted state radio following the handover of the Bakassi peninsula by Nigeria to Cameroon on 14 August.

George Enow Orock seized the occasion of the interview to call government’s attention to the fact that almost all the oil wealth in the country comes from the South West and especially around Ndian division where the Bakassi peninsula is found, yet there are no roads leading to the area, talkless of filling stations.

«Ndian division produces all the oil wells in the country yet there is no one fuel pump there,» Enow Orock remarked.

The SWELA secretary general observed that with the South West contributing about 75 percent of Cameroon’s GDP and about one-third of the food supply, and with the CDC being the second employer after the state, the province is yet to witness significant development.

«There are no filling stations, no bridges, no reads, no TV radio signals etc, [in Ndian]» the SWELA secretary general said.

He said with Bakassi and its enormous resources and potentials now regained, it was high time government realised the need to bring to the area and to the South West in general the development it deserves.

Addressing the Bakassi problem in particular, Enow Orock underscored the need for government to create a school for the study of fishing in the area since fishing was the main occupation of the territory’s inhabitants.

He also recommended that administrators sent to the area should be able to communicate in English so as to better understand the problem of the residents there.

Enow Orock Goerge also called government’s attention to the need for development to be brought to all areas along the Cameroon-Nigeria border to enhance fruitful intercourse between the peoples of the two brotherly nations.

Even before the SWELA official’s remarks, government had been variously been indicted for reaping much from the South West but failing to give back as much in return.

Some commentators have not ceased to question why the government gives royalties to timber producing areas and refuses to give the South West royalties for the petroleum products exploited there.

Others talk of the huge customs and excise duties collected from such active border ports like Ekok, Edenau, Ekondo-Titi, but which areas have remained underdeveloped with no electricity, no pipe-borne water, no hospitals, no roads and with shacks that pass for government offices there.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fire kills 9 in one of Cameroon's most populated Prisons.

Some nine people have been killed and 78 others injured in a fire accident that occurred at the New Bell prisons in Douala, Cameroon, in the early hours of Wednesday 20th August 2008.

According to state radio, the fire consumed part of the male quarters which is the most populated section of the Douala Central prison in New Bell.

In course of the incidence six cells that play host to about 600 inmates were destroyed by the fire. The origin of the fire has not yet been uncovered.

Official sources say the 9 inmates died of suffocation while of the 78 injured, 30 cases are very serious. The injured were taken to the Laquintinie and the Douala reference hospitals.

The Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Amadou Ali, paid a visit to the prison to have first hand information of the damage caused by the fire.

The Vice PM was accompanied by the Secretary of State in charge of Penitentiary Administration, Ngafesson Emmanuel Bantar.

The prison has been placed under tight security given that some inmates took advantage of the disorder caused by the fire and attempted to escape but were halted by the forces of law and order.

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The politics of the Catholic Church

By Hon.Ayah Paul Abine
Christ was killed because his teachings were seen as challenging the established order. To give a human face to his work and to ensure continuity, he chose twelve apostles and later seventy-two other disciples. This was akin to government and public service. Several centuries after Christ, the Pope, Christ successor, became the world’s leader, and ended up dividing the world into two with Papal Bulls.

Even when the Pope was restricted to the Vatican states after the unification of Italy, the Papacy maintained, and still maintains, its political power alongside the clerical power. That explains why we have a Vatican ambassador to Cameroon as elsewhere today. It certainly could not have been other, in that clerical power is intangible for want of the means to enforce dogmas or clerical injunctions.

Unfortunately, the political power of the church is very high limited, and almost ineffectual, because of the absence of pragmatic enforcement authority. Necessarily, therefore, the church has to use the political set-up or some unorthodox means in the eyes of the literal political order, to enforce its political stance on issue in a particular geographical expression. Some persons see and brand this as interface in polities. And they do it to their own detriment. Pilate and others stood to judge Christ for interfering in public order and evil authority. But to their dismay it is they that were being judged and found wanting. The tables turned against them today they stand accused of the murder of an innocent man.

While respecting their opinion, one may wish to contend that denouncing and even fighting against their moral teaching of the church, is the very essence of the existence of the church. This core role has been enhance by the recent doctrine of the church on their total development of the human person, as against the previous dominate preoccupation with the salvation of souls only. This is absolutely salutary as it would be preposterous to hold that, even if the church sees that some political conduct is likely to result in human suffering or fatalities, her role should be to get into the church and pray for the entry into heaven of those persons’ souls.

It would appear that the new position of the church is wholly consistent with the contemporary history of the world. Until recently, the mainstay of the United Nations was conflict-resolution. But they have now adopted conflict-prevention as their modus operandi. One would, therefore, hasten to opine that the church would be failing in her mission, if she stood idly by in the face of impending social upheavals, on the sole pretext that some adversary or interested political party would take exception to its action. As long as the church stay clear of partisan politics and her members groomed in the pursuit of truth and justice, the nation can enjoy some credibility and then render equitable services to its citizens

We are always appalled at the destruction and frustration that are the aftermath of civil strikes in this Cameroon. The last straw that broke the camel’s back unearths so much that has been smoldering in the doldrums. What you get in response sometimes is obstinacy and the hardening of hearts toward human plight. Who else but the church could have softened the hearts with the word of God? The idea of a lay state syndrome leeway to prowl round looking for someone to devour, then the fate of Sodom and Ghomorah is not distant from us. God forbid!

In the final analysis, one can confidently conclude that few wise virgins would argue against the twinning of the political and clerical functions of the church. The successful exercise of the latter is dependent on the fruitful results from the application of the other. And to guarantee those results is to take or ensure the taking of preventive political measures likely to stand in their way. Instability has destabilized our economy and plunged many into misery at short notice while some politicians pant and grasp for breath. But these are irregularities that could have been forestalled had the church played her role as a referee and moral regulator. Without the spiritual guidance of the church our checks and balances would be hollow promises. The missing link ought to be filled by the church to hold otherwise is to send the church packing.

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Of Olympics, Francoise Mbango Etone, and promoting sports in Cameroon

Francoise Mbango Etone of Cameroon has successfully defended her Olympic triple jump title, setting a games record of 15.39 meters.

Mbango, Cameroon’s first individual Olympic gold medalist when she won at Athens in 2004 after two silvers at the worlds, set the mark in Beijing.

She came back this season after spending most of 2006 and 2007 off the circuit for a combination of reasons, including injuries, studies, becoming a mother not leaving out friction with the country's athletics federation.

But for Francoise Mbango Etone, Cameroon’s 77-man delegation to the Beijing Olympics would have been returning home empty-handed; for no reason at all. Even then many are those who believe a lone medal is a shamefully poor harvest owing to the fact that Cameroon has the infinite ability to do so much more.

Why should Cameroon count on luck rather than get organised and determine how it must be? Why shouldn’t Cameroon be aiming at 30 or more medals of all categories at the London games? To begin with?

The billion dollar question is how Cameroon could have registered for only nine events out of thirty-five at the Beijing Olympics, given the importance of sports in unifying the nation and creating a favourable image for Cameroon abroad.

In effect, Government should start right away to prepare for the London Olympics in four years’ time. Cameroon is full of sporting talents of all types.

It shouldn't be Mbango, time and again, after all every event is in both male and female versions; and most events are in several categories. This makes the scope for participation incredibly v-a-s-t. It is we ourselves who in the end are our own limitation.

The government of Cameroon must decide right away to identify talents of all types and actively encourage them to prepare for 2012. Participating and winning must no longer be a matter of luck.

The Mount Cameroon race has over the years created a culture of racing, making our men and women fit for track events from the steeplechase (200 metres) through to the Decathlon (10,000 meters).

The MILANO club is the initiative of Cameroonians based in Kumbo in the NW province that trains Cameroonians in all Olympic events. Earlier this year three of four of their men won the Boston marathon in the US. The government can build on that effort or create its own centre for the recruitment and training of talents in Olympic events.

In the next four years so much can happen. But such an effort will only succeed with a total redefinition of the present rules of many sporting federations.

Imagine for instance that a talented person is denied participation because he couldn’t bribe his chiefs! How do you call that? Shooting oneself on the foot? So, corruption and favoritism should be put aside.

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Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have agreed to three presidential debates

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain have agreed to three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, the two campaigns said.

"The campaigns have come to the earliest agreement on presidential debates reached in any general election in recent history," campaign officials said in a joint statement.

The three, 90-minute debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, based in Arlington, Va.

The first presidential debate will be Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi in Oxford on the topics of foreign policy and national security.

The lone debate between vice presidential candidates will be Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.

The second presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 7 at Belmont University in Nashville. It will be a town hall debate format.

The final meeting between the two major-party presidential nominees is Oct. 15 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., focusing on domestic and economic policy.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cameroon Government urge to abide to International Judgments

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The government of Cameroon has been urged to abide to international judgments and particularly that of Banjul, in the matter between the government of Cameroon and the BLCC (The Bakweri Land Claims Committee). The statement is contained in a communique from BLCC – Europe, signed by its president, Louis Egbe Mbua, on 19th August 2008.

It should be recalled that in September 2002, the BLCC filed a complaint under Articles 55, 56 and 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights concerning the violation of the land rights of the indigenous people of the Fako division. In its complaint, the BLCC had called on the commission to recommend, among other things, that the government of Cameroon affirm the lands occupied by the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) are private property; that the Bakweri be fully involved in any CDC privatization negotiations; and that ground rents owed to the Bakweri dating back to 1947 be paid to a Bakweri Land Trust Fund.

In its response, the Government of Cameroon argued that the BLCC case be thrown out. It said that the BLCC has no right (
locus standi) to speak on behalf of the Bakweri; that the BLCC case was imprecise and unclear and that the BLCC's case was insulting because it had cast suspicions and aspersions on the Cameroonian judicial system. The Government of Cameroon further argued that the U.N. Sub-Commission has already settled the case brought before the African Commission and that the BLCC did not exhaust local remedies as all the actions the BLCC took certainly do not correspond to remedies mentioned by the African Charter.

However, after examining the written and oral submissions of both parties, the commission ruled that the BLCC has the right to speak on behalf of the Bakweri. The commission ruled that the BLCC had the
locus standi and is entitled to bring its case before the African Commission because "the counsel himself and the BLCC has been duly authorized, by a resolution of chiefs, to further the interests of the Bakweri, which fact has not been denied by the Respondent State."

The commission also concluded that the government's argument had no historical or legal basis and rejected the government's call that the case be thrown out for insulting the Cameroon judiciary.
The commission's findings were again at odds with the government's position that the U.N. had already resolved the matter, and concluded that the "BLCC had presented compelling evidence with regards to the lack of independence of the Cameroon judiciary." As a result, the commission was reluctant to deliver a ruling, even though the BLCC had presented a strong case on behalf of the people of Fako. It referred the matter to mediation, as the next phase, and recommended that the BLCC and the Government of Cameroon "settle the matter amicably."

But it's rather unfortunate that while the government of Cameroon is yet to abide to the Banjul judgment, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), in conspiracy with some government officials, are allegedly distributing parts of the said land illegally. Reason why the BLCC communique further launched a fervent warning to any person acquiring land from the CDC. “Any person acquiring land from the CDC is doing so at their own personal risk because what La Republique du Cameroun is doing is a criminal act; and we will treat it as such. We do not want another Bakassi in Cameroon: created by the intransigent government”.

Let us be clear here: The CDC or the government of La Republique du Cameroun do not own one inch of the purported land in accordance with African traditional, universal ancestral, national and international law in concomitance with conventional wisdom” states the communique copied amongst others; Le President De La Republique du Cameroun; The President African Union, Addis ababa; The United Nations Secretary General, New York; The General Manager, Cameroon Development Corporation, Limbe, Cameroon and The Secretary General of BLCC, Buea, Cameroon.

While expressing BLCCs continuous interest in settling the matter peacefully, “the government de La Republique du Cameroun and her accomplice, the CDC, should abide to the Banjul Judgment that clearly states that they should not expropriate the CDC Lands which belong to the Bakweris of Fako Division, South-West Cameroon. Furthermore, the CDC has not paid their rents for the past 61 years when these lands were leased to them in 1947 by the Bakwerilands Committee. We will be asking them to pay up in the nearest future or face eviction: this applies to the “owners” of Tole Tea Estate and other violators”.

In support of BLCC - Europe, Lyombe Eko, of BLCC – USA, intimated “Working together, we are certain to win the just struggle to restore Bakweri land which were expropriated by colonial administrations and their post-colonial successors to its rightful owners, the natives. It is only a question of time”.

While congratulating BLCC-Europe, for keeping the spirit of the committee burning, the secretary general Mola Njoh Litumbe, intimated “serving our people, against a ruthless colonialist regime that not only does not respect its own Land Law, but ignores the decisions of international tribunals except those favourable to it is, from my personal experience, a tedious uphill enterprise that requires faith, courage and determination”.

It should be noted that BLCC – Europe was re-organized recently with the following as Board of Directors; Vice President: Iya Enanga Rosemary Ekosso, Secretary General: Mola John Janjo ( J.J.) Williams Jnr and Mola Val Ndeley Molulu, as special advicer

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Successful handover of Bakassi:Cameroon must now demonstrate right of ownership

The successful handover of Bakassi by Nigeria is now history. But there are urgent matters to address. Yaounde has obligations towards Nigerians still living in Bakassi that it must respect. Yaounde must also immediately begin to put down socioeconomic development and people Bakassi with Cameroonians as evidence of its ownership. There is also the problem of insecurity that Yaounde must address soonest. The handover is also the best evidence that Nigeria is a neighbour Yaounde can do business with.

Paul Biya can now sit back and savour a glass of champagne, following the successful handover of Bakassi.

Messages of congratulation to Etoudi did not delay in coming. The very first was, appropriately, from the conference of SW chiefs. Bakassi is part of Ndian division in the SW province.
But even as Bakassi reverted to Cameroon, the question as to what next has been repeatedly asked. The Yaounde authorities would obviously want to respect the five-year transition in regard to the Nigerians who still live in Bakassi.
The next urgent concern of the government will be to develop Bakassi by providing it with all the necessary social infrastructure and get Cameroonians to inhabit the locality as substantive evidence of ownership.
The other priority to address is the security of the Peninsula. Nigerian rebels appear interested in securing an arms traffic that comes through Bakassi waters. That is not easy for the Cameroonian military who have suffered damage in recent months.
While addressing these priority issues the Yaounde authorities might want to take a total review of Cameroon’s relations with Nigeria which have at best been uncertain. Yaounde has been suspicious and fearful of Nigeria which time has proven to be unjustified. And, Bakassi has now confirmed the point.

Isn’t it time for Yaounde to open up to Nigeria and develop more economic and commercially beneficial relations?
Let’s examine these points in a little more detail. Bakassi is still inhabited by some 30,000 to 40,000 Nigerians who, by the Green Tree accord, have the next five years of a lenient Cameroonian administration.

Gendarme brutality

They will live under conditions similar to those they always had under Nigerian authority viz: no residence permit, no taxes to worry about, and to continue to go about their fishing activities as usual. After the transition period those who stay on would then conform to residence requirements.
The first test for Cameroon is to respect the agreement to the letter and spirit. The conduct of Cameroonian gendarmes is particularly important in this regard. The long history of reckless brutality by gendarmes against Nigerian fishermen was a major factor in Sani Abacha’s decision to pounce on Bakassi and occupy it militarily, as he did in December 1993.
The importance of this gendarme factor unfortunately has not been sufficiently understood by the Yaounde authorities. The wrongness of Abacha’s decision much overshadowed this. Gendarmes who serve in Bakassi must be given a new and strict code of conduct lest they become detrimental to Cameroon’s cause.
The mentality of the Abacha regime is important to note. Abacha was certain that militarily Cameroon was no match to Nigeria, if it came to such a confrontation. Abacha was therefore determined to set aside a pro-Cameroon ruling of the ICJ which they knew would be the case.
The next important point about the Abacha attitude was that Nigeria had far stronger diplomatic and public relations machinery to fight and silence Cameroon wherever it mattered on the international scene.

France, for instance, has more business interests in Nigeria than in all of Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. The Elysée would be much too careful to be useful to Cameroon in any problem with Nigeria. Isn’t that how the world works?
Happily, Abacha’s successors did not inherit his belligerent attitude. They have been people of goodwill. Their goodwill stands out all the more.
Respecting the terms of transition will probably be the most eloquent expression of gratitude to the Nigerian government for its generous goodwill in freely returning Bakassi to Cameroon.

Transition agreement

Respecting the transition agreement will also allay the fears of the Nigerians living in Bakassi. Any violation would do much damage. It would strengthen the argument of the many forces in Nigeria that opposed the handover. It would also of course betray the goodwill of the Abuja authorities.
What the authorities in Yaounde might do is making living in Bakssi become as attractive to the Nigerians as to tempt them to acquire Cameroonian nationality after the five-year transition. In any case it would pay to make a stronger and ever stronger case for ownership by Cameroon.
Just as important as it is to make Nigerians in Bakassi comfortable the Yaounde authorities must as a matter of priority develop the Peninsula and attract Cameroonians to settle there too.

There is urgent need for potable water, electricity, primary and secondary schools, clinics and maternity centres, roads and housing.

The government should declare Bakassi a special development zone and make it especially attractive.
In this regard we join in congratulating the Spaniards who did not wait until last Friday to announce an expansive rural electricity scheme, starting from Idenau. We urge other foreign partners to come in with development aid to lift up Bakassi.
It is important to emphasise that only when Bakassi is inhabited by Cameroonians can there be talk of effective ownership by Cameroon. Abacha argued that he acted to protect Nigerians.

Another approach to settling Cameroonians in Bakassi is for the Yaounde authorities to woo Nigerians now living there by making conditions so attractive as to tempt them to accept Cameroonian citizenship. Many have ethnic affinity with the people of Ndian division.
The other urgent question about Bakassi that Cameroon must settle is the security of the Peninsula. Since the last ten months there has been much pirate activity by Nigerian rebels in Bakassi waters. That has done much damage to the Cameroonian army.

Arms traffic

It is believed that the rebel activities have the sole purpose of securing the Bakassi corridor for an illicit arms traffic from or through Cameroon. Their successes have emboldened them and caused a real threat to peace in the Bakassi waters.
In Nigeria rebel activity within the Niger Delta succeeded so well as to chase away big multinational oil explorers. Nigeria’s oil production has fallen by a half of its normal production, which contributes to the global fuel hike.
The Yaounde authorities will have to take bold and courageous decisions to correct this security problem in Bakassi. The solution, some say, lies in Paul Biya’s hands. He might have to dismiss and even charge to court some of the most powerful men connected with the military. Unless he tackles the problem now it might grow out of control and render Cameroon’s oil exploration in Bakassi equally perilous.

In the end Yaounde would have everything to benefit from developing wider and closer relations with Nigeria. Ahmadou Ahidjo’s early fears of Nigeria as a big, powerful and expansionist neighbour have never been justified. Ahidjo was so afraid of Nigeria he master-minded UDEAC as a counter-weight which unfortunately failed to work even as an economic grouping.

Nigeria is a big and ready market any day for Cameroon’s excess agricultural produce. The favourable exchange rate between the FrancCFA and the Naira makes the purchase of certain imported manufactured goods from Nigeria cheaper for the Cameroonian consumer.
Nigerian commercial banks are already finding their way to Cameroon’s financial market, which opens the way for Cameroonians to also enter the Nigerian market. These exchanges need be encouraged and widened.

Bakassi has taken away any lingering fears that Yaounde ever had of its big and powerful neighbour. This is the time to consolidate peace and make real friends.

Courtesy, The Herald

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

World Bank disappointed with sub-Saharan Africa in the fight against HIV/AIDS

Says results remain largely unsatisfactory despite a colossal 720 billion FCFA disbursed to 30 countries since 2000

The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa remains largely unsatisfactory despite enormous funds made available for the purpose since 2000, says a World Bank report.
The report that was published on the institution’s web site just before the recently held 17th international conference on AIDS which took place in Mexico, states that recent studies have revealed "new and profound realities in HIV/AIDS epidemiology and puts to question some generally accepted opinions and clichés about the disease".
Because of these epidemiological changes, the report further says, there is the need to reformulate the strategies and to prioritize the debate on policies for prevention rather than treatment if efforts at combating the pandemic must not be compromised.
The report also calls for a more efficient use of available funds by beneficiary countries especially those in Africa, south of the Sahara.
To the World Bank the image and opinion held of the disease as associated with poverty is untrue. "HIV/AIDS in African is associated with poverty. But at an individual level it is linked with lifestyle and characteristics known to persons with high revenue: Many simultaneous sex partners, more geographic mobility and urbanization…" the report agues.
Furthermore, the World Bank sounded very disappointed with the results produced by some 30 sub-Saharan African countries that have shared a whopping sum of over 720 billion FCFA since 2000 for the fight against HIV/AIDS whose devastating effects cannot easily be underestimated.
"The rate of infection still supercedes the rate of treatment. One counts five new infections for every two [that are able to afford] treatment," noted the report.
And with treatment being more costly than prevention, experts have recommended that policies for prevention should be encouraged especially in countries like Cameroon where only about 12 percent of infected persons have access to treatment with anti-retrovirals (ARVs).
The bank estimates that treatment for life per patient will cost 2.5 million FCFA while prevention per person will be less than 900,000 FCFA.

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Despite much pretence to democracy the Biya regime is an irredeemable despotism

Despite much pretence to democracy the Biya regime is an irredeemable despotism. Yet talk of itself as a democracy manages to attract optimistic partners whose expectations it cannot fulfill because it remains fundamentally undemocratic. That is a huge source of conflict. But the extraordinarily rapid rate of growth of the Soviet Union in the first few decades of socialist rule and the miracle economic growth of SE Asian countries all under heavy-handed authoritarians clearly indicate that even with absolute power Cameroon could still have developed. What went wrong?

As a last-ditch defence of Paul Biya’s postponement of ELECAM, Henry Eyebe Ayissi pleaded with the European diplomats who were openly critical of it to understand that in Cameroon it is the president who guarantees the institutions and not the constitution.
With that declaration the external relations minister hit upon a fundamental truth of the Biya regime that is not always taken into consideration when dealing with it.
There is certainly a conflict between the president’s use of his absolute powers and the power that democratic institutions are supposed to have. The two forms of power are opposed to each other.
The regime itself compounds matters by constantly striving to give the image of itself as a democracy – ‘advanced democracy,’ ‘peaceful democracy.’ Biya himself never misses the opportunity of stating how smooth public institutions function.
So we have an essentially undemocratic regime camouflaging as democratic! The collapse of socialism and its one-party dictatorships in the late 1980s made democracy fashionable. African dictators like Paul Biya quickly learned how practical it would be to appear to belong to the democratic era.
Cameroon switched to multi-party politics. But that is where it ended. Everything else went on as before. The president maintains overwhelming powers; controls parliament and the judiciary. Worse still, elections are not free which makes power alternation almost impossible.
In spite of such a record the regime calls itself democratic, and with that label manages to get the ear of its partners only to turn wolf afterwards. That is what Cameroon’s membership of the Commonwealth is about, unfulfilled promises.

Hugely unpopular

No doubt this double posture of the regime claiming to be democratic but at the same time in reality being a hard-nosed dictatorship is not without a big price to pay. The Biya regime is hugely unpopular.
84% of Cameroonians do not trust Paul Biya. Abroad partners find enormous difficulty dealing with a person that cannot keep his promises. Cameroon receives a tiny trickle of direct foreign investment.
The unfettered control of institutions as is the case with Biya, to be sure, is the very soul of despotism whereas power-sharing among institutions and control of its exercise are the pillars of democracy.
The two concepts of power are as different as east is to west. It may be a good thing to be patient with a repentant despot if he demonstrates the will to change. But Biya’s relationship with The Commonwealth is hardly one of good faith on the part of the president.
It would perhaps be helpful to point out here that neither despotism nor democracy is an end in itself. Both are means to an end, ie to an affluent society with equitable distribution of wealth and with equal opportunity to all.
The long history of human experience in government has nevertheless come to the general conclusion that power should be shared and controlled institutionally to avoid it being abused. That arrangement has come to be called democracy.
But the ancients who first gave the idea of government a deep thought were sometimes afraid of democracy. Plato, for example, fearful that a popular election would give power to the uneducated and ignorant masses, preferred the dictatorship of a ‘philosopher-king’.
Unlike modern education that has been limited to training in intellectual skills, education in Plato’s day had a full and inseparable component in training in moral virtues.
Plato’s philosopher-king was therefore someone with the people’s interest at heart. Every act of his would be in the best interest of the public, a veritable selfless ruler.
Europeans were much influenced by varying degrees of this model of benign despotism. But at last even the most virtuous of humans are frail and often give in to their weaknesses. That led to the chain of revolutions that overturned despotic monarchies in favour of popularly elected governments.

Founding fathers

The American founding fathers having learnt from the problems caused by the abuse of absolute power decided once and for all to adopt as many measures as they found necessary to avoid it.
An American president, for instance, is limited to two terms of four years each; no more. The doctrine of the separation of powers already keeps him off any direct say in the functioning of the judiciary and the legislature.
As we observe the functioning of democratic societies across the world we see that they are more prosperous in every sense. The only explanation for this is that democratic societies are freer and more open which permits the release of creative energies in every respect.
Yet we have observed some of the most rapid economic development taking place but in despotic countries of varying degrees.
The Soviet Union, under socialist dictatorship, following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, displayed an incredible rate of economic and technological growth as to cast doubt on the much-advertised democratic model of the west.
It took the vision of John F. Kennedy to challenge the American genius to overtake the Soviets who already sent a Yuri Gagarin to space in the Sputnik in 1958 and place a man on the moon in ten years or less.
The Soviet model appeared so attractive that newly independent third world countries, including Africans pandered towards socialism which justified one-party dictatorships.
The argument was that one party dictatorship was more in keeping with the African traditional society with a powerful chief to whom the whole tribe deferred. The second, equally strong, argument was that the in-built constraints and processes of democracy would only slow, if not block, socioeconomic development.
But at last none of this proved true. There was no noticeable development due to one-party rule in Africa. A World Bank study of 1994 concluded that Cameroon had fallen behind on its development by as much as 30 years!
The Yaounde authorities were so cross with that report they could have stoned its presenters! Ministers openly called country office officials pseudo-economists. In 1994 Cameroon was only four years away from one-party rule.
One party rule only created inadaptability or inner resistance to competitive multi-party politics when the time came. The case of Cameroon is a perfect example. Paul Biya is a pure-bred of one-party dictatorship. It would be expecting too much of the Cameroonian president at this twilight of his career to make any important shifts in this.
But what surprises both his admirers and critics is his inability to bring about socioeconomic development, given all the favourable conditions one can imagine - more than two and a half decades of continuous rule in peace - and given a fairly rich country with a well-trained manpower and a vigorous labour force.
The so-called tiger economies of SE Asia which grew at miracle rates are far less endowed than Cameroon. And, for the purpose of the present analysis, they were all operated by dictatorships or heavy-handed rulers similar to Biya.
Lee Kuan Yew who single-handed in only three decades lifted Singapore to a height often better than the best first world countries, proudly expressed the idea that Asian cultures were endowed with an intrinsic capacity for innovativeness and growth.
That thought is fiercely refuted by Chris Patten (now Lord), the last British governor of Hong Kong (1992-1997) in his stewardship memoirs, ‘East and West.’
It may be comforting for an African to agree with Patten that no cultures are condemned by their very nature to inadaptability to development. Doesn’t that leave us wondering what then happened to Cameroon and to Paul Biya?

Courtesy, The Herald

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Friday, August 15, 2008

After receiving threat calls:Biya orders thorough search of Kondengui prison

Millions of FCFA, laptops, cell phones and letters addressed to President Biya were seized by the gendarmes after the search conducted on Tuesday

By Roland Akong Wuwih in Yaounde

Anonymous threats calls by some prisoners in the Kondengui prison to President Paul Biya warning him to release them provoked the government to carryout a thorough search in the prison on Tuesday 12 August.
Prison sources suspect that the calls might have come from the VIP quarters of the prison, where some former senior officials of the regime are in pre-trial detention over charges of corruption. They named: Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara, former secretary general at the president, Polycarpe Abah Abah, former minister of Finance, Urbain Olanguena Awono, former minister of Health.
Laurent Esso, the secretary general at the presidency of the republic, drew the attention of the minister of Justice to the threat calls, who in turn worked with the minister of Defence to organise Tuesday’s search.
Ngafeesson Emmanuel, secretary of state for penitentiary administration, and Jean Baptist Bokam, secretary of state for the gendarmerie, on the instruction of both ministers, stormed the Yaounde Central prison with close to 1000 gendarmes to conduct the search.
In the VIP quarters, the gendarmes said that they discovered and retrieved laptop computers, cell phones, expensive wines and champagnes, plus correspondences addressed to the head of state by some of the prisoners but did not disclose the contents of the letters.
Out of 2 million FCFA retrieved from the special quarters, former minister Olanguena Awono was found with the sum of 68,000 FCFA. Legislation says a prisoner is not supposed to keep more than 20,000 FCFA while in prison.
The sum of 10 million FCFA was found and seized from some prisoners in the female quarters while marijuana and other drugs were seized from inmates in the «Kosovo» quarters of the prison.
The secretary of state for penitentiary administration Emmanuel Ngafeeson described the items found and seized as prohibited items, and that family and friends of the detainees smuggled them into the prison with the help of some warders.
He said the search was occasioned by rumours that some prisoners were planning to make a massive bid to escape from prison.

Courtesy, The Herald

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bakassi handover: Paul Biya consults diplomats

Meets French and US ambassadors

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

As Cameroon awaits the total and unconditional handingover of the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsular, from Nigeria, comes August 14th 2005, President Paul Biya,is leaving no stone unturned in making the ceremony a success. Biya is taking necessary measures owing to repeated threats by some Nigerians to disrupt the occasion insisting that Bakassi is and remains part of Nigeria. However, some western nations notably France and the US have promised to make the process a success no mater the threats.
It is probably in this light and more that Paul Biya recently granted audiences to the French and US ambassadors in to Yaounde because it
is not usual that President Paul Biya is the one who invites diplomats to audience with him. That is the surprising development about the meeting he had last week with Janet Garvey, US ambassador, following the open criticism US and other Western diplomats have made against recent political developments in Cameroon, namely the amendment of the constitution and the postponement of ELECAM.
The Herald news paper reported that the meeting at the president’s request was all the more surprising. “Having previously taken the initiative to invite Georges Serre, the French ambassador who leads the EU group in Cameroon,on the delicate issue of the coming handover of Bakassi, it seemed necessary by protocol rules that he should invite Garvey also who represents Cameroon’s transatlantic ally on the Bakassi matter”. But the paper however expressed surprise as to the length of the visits. “The audience lasted so long, insiders have told this newspaper that Paul Biya also used the opportunity to reassure the American that he had no antipathies with her”.
And that the president, insiders say, is deeply preoccupied with the Bakassi handover and following severe threats to insecurity, he is leaving no stone unturned to guarantee the success of 14 August.
A fortnight ago, Georges Serre went to the External Relations ministry and assured Cameroon that France was also concerned about the success of 14 August and that France would be present not only diplomatically but would do a lot more militarily to call off the bluff of Nigerian pirates. That same week, the US ambassador, British and German diplomats, all witnesses to the Green Tree Accord by which Nigeria committed itself irrevocably to cede Bakassi to Cameroon, took turns at MINREX to assure Cameroon of their full support.
The matter appeared to be over until the following week when Paul Biya, in an unusual fit of enthusiasm, sent for Georges Serre. “The president was so excited that he could have flown over the roof. The president probably did not expect the extent of France’s military commitment to the Bakassi handover and wanted to hear it himself from the horse’s mouth”.
To the Herald the president's audience with Janet Garvey was also to thank the Americans for their commitment to the 14 August handover and also to bring about a relaxation to visibly tenuous relations between the presidency and the embassy.

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Pregnancy through rape: Some Cameroonians prefer to keep the child while others prefer abortion

Whatever the case abortion is illegal in Cameroon and punishable by law

By Francise N. Njila

Staff Writer, Prince Report.

Abortion is illegal in Cameroon and punishable against the law. But a vox pop conducted recently by the Herald news paper on what to do if impregnated through rape indicated that some women do subscribe to it. Though the majority of women contacted say they would keep the pregnancy because aborting it would be sinful others, however, said they would not because a child resulting from such a pregnancy would never bring joy to its mother for obvious reasons.
It is true that rape is one of the most horrible things that could happen to a girl, especially when she is impregnated in the process. But if such a thing were to happen to me I would give a second thought to it before taking any decision”, says Flora. “The Bible says that children are a gift and heritage from God. If you abort, it means you have committed a double crime, that is, eliminating the gift of God and murder. I would rather pray for God’s protection on the child and also beg Him to change the life of the man who did such a thing to me” she added.
But Ma Angeline differs strongly. Hera her “Abort it immediately. I don’t think that there is room for a second thought on whether not to keep a pregnancy resulting from rape. Without any waste of time I would do away with the pregnancy because children born in such circumstances hardly show respect. Secondly, if I keep such a child I would for ever be traumatised, especially when I see it.”
Though Flora and Ma Angeline we very specific others were undecided and believe they could only make their decision when it happens. But however, accepted that both abortion and rape were not something to think off. “I can only take a decision on whether to abort or keep the pregnancy when it must have happened” says Ngweni Lilian, Adding “I also know that both rape and abortion are bad and traumatizing, especially when it results in pregnancy. I love children, but if such were to happen I would see the reaction of my friends and family members before deciding what to do.”
In a debate like this, God has a place. And Adama Clara, strongly believe in him (God). “If I were impregnated through rape, I would surely feel bad but would not abort the pregnancy” intimated Adama, who says she want children, no matter from where and how they come. “One cannot tell from the onset the destiny of such a child. Some would say nothing good could come out of the child, but to me only God decides. It is not because the father of the child is a thief or rapist that the child would be same” Adama who promised to keep the pregnancy and pray to God, concluded.

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Douala: Africa’s second most expensive city

The Cameroon economic capital is also ranked 34th on earth

By Francise N. Njila

Staff Writer, Prince Report.

Cameroon economic capital of Douala, has been raked the second most expensive city to live in Africa and also witnessed a one-place to become the 34th most expensive city on earth.

The ranking issued recently by a Canadian group, Mercer Human Resources Consulting, ranked Lagos in Nigeria as the most expensive city on the continent and the 31st most costly place to dwell on earth. The Mercer publication compares the cost of life in 144 cities on the planet based on the cost of 300 products and services from lodging, transportation, food and leisure.

Moscow in Russia was place first for the third consecutive year. Tokyo, London, Oslo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Geneva, Zurich and Milan followed respectively. Meanwhile, New York, the only American city appeared 22nd among the top 50 most expensive cities in the world.

Douala residence expressed little surprise and expected the city to top the Charts, considering the persistently galloping costs of everything-from fuel via housing to food. “What can I really tell you. Just know that things a quite expensive over here than anywhere you can imagine” says Tchoutang Jean-Marie.

The survey, according to Mercer, is intended to guide multinational companies, diplomatic services, foreign missions and governments in the allocation of salaries and compensation allowances to protect the purchasing power of their employees serving abroad. Alan Shepherd, branch manager at the British Council in Douala, says he has had to heavily cut back on personal expenses after moving here from Caracas in Venezuela over a year ago.

“This is the first time I’ve been in Africa. So all I can say is that the actual cost of living in Douala surprised me. It was higher than I had thought it was going to be, to be honest.
If you take what we call an economic basket of goods, if you include in that supermarket prices, restaurant prices, things like taxes, then they’re all considerably high,” he said.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Open letter to Cameroon's prime minister : Collective punishment on my people

History should record that money was officially made available to foreign mercenaries to attack part of our national territory just because one man from Oliti in Akwaya sub-division held fast to his conscience…

Dear Sir,

As you very well know, the officially sponsored war against the Olitis through the Divisional Officer for Akwaya, Ebombe Stephen Ngonde, and the Yives, is over seven months old already. You are also aware that the government of Cameroon grossly politicised the war, and has done all it could, through a vast variety of sponsored agents, to tarnish my reputation. As the crude methods used to prosecute the crusade backfired, the innocent Olitis of whom I am one have become the target of collective punishment. I have tangible reasons to make that assertion, and the facts are there for the whole world to behold.

You know that no sooner had I got information about the war than I informed you, the Presidency and several local authorities about the situation, calling for immediate security measures to arrest the situation. But because it was a planned war against our people, mercenaries were allowed and even encouraged to destroy as much of Oliti as they could. When eventually gendarmes were sent to that forgotten part of Cameroon, the instructions were clear: destroy Oliti property and inflict pain on the persons. And that is what happened. From all the intelligence reports you have, you are not without knowing the toll. Several Olitis have been disabled for life. There have been looting, raping and sadistic torture! You know of course that a few weeks ago, even the chairman of Akwaya Chiefs Conference was arrested and detained for four days when his co-villagers resisted your gendarmes who had gone on the rampage because of such trivial criminal offence (criminal offence?) peculiar to the Olitis as a youth daring to greet his wife in the company of the gendarmes that had seized her from him.

It is a fact most notorious that most of the Yives took refuge in Nigeria because of the war. Your office is well informed that the Yives hired Nigerian mercenaries who came over to Cameroon and razed villages to the ground, killing women, including pregnant women, children and the elderly who were unable to escape. It would be shameful for the government to deny that they have had information that the local priest, Rev. Forbanka David, one of the government agents who fancies himself sitting by the right hand of Jesus at the Throne of Justice, received money from the United States of America, of which the figures have remained a mystery of the Trinity. Possessed of the fact that the Yives were hiring mercenaries, he still gave 100.000 FCFA to 3.000 Yives; and that money was used to hire mercenaries who burnt down Ehembado; shot and wounded several persons; and burnt a blind woman alive. Even from the Seat of Wisdom, the seven thousand displaced Olitis were given only 40.000 FCFA in accordance with heavenly mathematical calculations; and even then, only after lengthy arguments.

Who is that one person in your government who can deny that some Nigerian State governments and international humanitarian organisations in that country gave relief supplies to the Yive refugees; and that it is the internally displaced persons in Cameroon, who are essentially the Olitis, that have gone for over seven months without shelter, clothing and food? I am very confident that in spite of our traditional falsehood, there must be some honest Cameroonians that would bear me witness that, in several ways and for months, I called on your government in vain to discharge its duty towards those refugees as we have ratified the relevant Geneva Convention.

When, therefore, the South West governor informed the victims on 30 May that your government had at long last made available fifty million (50.000.000) FCFA they were all in tearful joy that survival was imminent. But about six weeks later, their dreams got shattered when the Manyu SDO gave to the 3.000 Yives 13.500.000 FCFA, and tendered 4.200.000 FCFA to the 7.000 Olitis. The latter of course logically rejected the money as officially expected and designed in order to keep the conflict going. What coincidence! Rev. Forbanka from heaven gave the Olitis about a third of what he gave to the Yives. Months after that, the SDO uses the same ratio as the Father’s will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. Machinations upon machinations! In heaven, in hell and on earth!

Let us even grant that there are only 5.000 internally displaced persons as the governor has stated. That would mean that the Yive-Oliti ratio is one to two. It is reasoning most curious that one point should deserve 13.500.000 and two points 4.200.000? And in any case, the two sums amount to less than half of the 50.000.000 FCFA. Where is the rest of the money? We have the right to conjecture that, in the end, 50.000.000 was removed from state coffers in the name of Akwaya conflict, but, in fact, rather to enable the SDO to prepare his mother’s funeral and/or his retirement and eventual funeral.

We are not really surprised, though. We know the official position. As it is well known within official circles that the Yives hire mercenaries, it was well calculated, as the reverend man had done before the administration, to arm the Yives against the innocent Olitis who are branded as «Ayah’s men». Such blatantly biased conduct logically flew from the fact that, earlier on, Ekwale Martin Ekwale, the Mayor of Akwaya Council, had been procured to prepare a welcome address which he presented to the governor, suggesting to your government that Akwaya should not be raised to a full division; that the headquarters should move from Akwaya Town to another locality; and that primaries holding in four years’ time should not hold at Akwaya Town. Very clean politics indeed! That document, we know, is being processed against the interest of the very people that elected this honest mayor. Of course, only a celebrated dullard would ordinarily call on the government not to develop his own electorate as he did. But in betrayal of his intellectual unsoundness and reprehensible subservience, he went ahead to leak the official plot, which is to prolong the war situation until the primaries hold in four years’ time. Funding the Yives was simply in the pursuance of that plot in practical terms. It is of utmost importance to tickle the national and international public opinions about this now!

History should record that money was officially made available to foreign mercenaries to attack part of our national territory just because one man from that area held fast to his conscience. History should record that refugees were abandoned by their own government as collective punishment because one person from that community differed in political opinion with the Establishment. It may not be very material now whether these are offences within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal. But posterity shall make issue with such callous, sadistic and preposterous conduct of afflicting pain and death on the innocent. We may equally wish not to forget that there is some supreme judge at the tail end who is recording evidence on such objective exercise of state authority.
Ayah Paul Abine, Buea

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Wildlife law violation: Dealer in lion skin nabbed in Bertoua

He was arrested thanks to efforts by the East Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, the forces of law and order, the judiciary and LAGA

By Vincent Gudmia Mfonfu

A wildlife trafficker was on Wednesday, 7 July in Bertoua arrested while trying to sell skins derived from a young lion and other protected wildlife species including leopards. Investigation on international trafficking in lion skins is currently going on.

The operation that led to the arrest was carried out by the East Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, in collaboration with the Forces of law and order, the judiciary and The Last Great Ape Organisation, LAGA.

Renewed efforts are being made to curb illegal trade in lion hides and body parts. Following official declarations on the situation of the lion population, they are on the decline in Waza National Park. «If nothing is done the lion population will disappear in Waza», states Ambassa Linus, a senior official of the Waza National Park.

The driving force behind the race towards the extinction of the lion population in Waza and elsewhere in Cameroon is illegal wildlife trade. In June 2007, an operation mainly supported by Born Free Foundation, uncovered a high profile illegal trade in lion products by a long time worker in a hunting safari company in the North province. He was finally arrested in Garoua. The facilities of some hunting safari companies have been known to be used as channels for the laundering of illegal wildlife products. Laundering of wildlife products is an illegal activity which threatens protected wildlife species including lions.

In order to intensify the fight against illegal trade and strictly enforce the 1994 wildlife law, the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, recently issued a service note calling on the personnel of his ministry to exercise alertness in fighting wildlife crimes. «A call for vigilance is thus made in order to fight these new forms of illegality by wildlife traffickers who hide under the cover of regular MINFOF economic operators to carry out atrocities which damage the image of Cameroon», Ngolle Ngolle explains.

Illegal trade in lion skins like other parts derived from totally protected wildlife species such as ivory from elephants today ranks third after international illicit trade in drugs and arms. For instance, in October 2007, the Maroua Court of First Instance passed judgement on five wildlife dealers caught trading in lion skins. Three of the dealers were given a one-yeareight-month imprisonment term each, while the other two were slammed 10 months each. They were also suspected to be illegally transporting lion skins from Cameroon through Nigeria to the world black market.

The operation in Maroua is part of the national programme on effective wildlife law enforcement in Cameroon carried out by actually bringing offenders to justice.

The programme was launched in 2003 by the government with technical assistance from The Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) and is being implemented by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in collaboration with the General Delegation for National Security, the Secretariat of Defence and the Ministry of Justice and Keeper of the Seals and LAGA.

Law enforcement as a solution Cameroon Tribune of 26 May 2008 cited Ambassa Linus as saying , «The lion considered king of the forest is no longer secured in Waza». This insecurity is partly brought about by illegal trade in lions and their parts against which the ongoing programme on effective wildlife law enforcement was launched. The law of 1994 governing the wildlife sector in Cameroon is really severe on wildlife traffickers. Sections 101 and 158 of that law states that any person caught with parts of dead or live lion and other endangered wildlife species is liable to a prison term of up to three years and/or pay a fine of up to 10 million FCFA.

The government of Cameroon is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the effective enforcement of the wildlife law. «The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife is now in a renewed alert mode to track down and to sanction all those who do not respect the wildlife law and all those who want to see our wildlife species go extinct cannot succeed», warns Minister Ngolle Ngolle. This warning comes on the heels of a similar one by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). «In many parts of Africa, lions may soon become extinct», cautions IUCN.
Yet the lion, according to Will Travers of Born Free Foundation, «is the symbol of Africa», let alone Cameroon. «The lion is the symbol of Cameroon’s prowess and is almost like a national symbol», posits Ngolle Ngolle.

Race towards extinction

Wildlife conservation experts hold that the West African lions are particularly vulnerable to extinction as a result of illegal trade and so have been reclassified from vulnerable to endangered in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Frank of the University of California in the United States, cautions: «Only 23000 lions are left compared to an estimated 200 000 in the early 1980s».

Quoting IUCN sources, Marchant J of the New Scientist journal states: «In many parts of Africa, lions may soon become extinct». Studies have shown that there is not a single population of lions in West and Central Africa that is large enough to be viable.

courtesy, The Herald

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