Friday, October 31, 2008

Windfall oil revenues: Why is government not willing to benefit all Cameroonians?

It took long years of strenuous arguments for the Yaounde authorities to bring into the budget revenues derived from its crude oil sales. The IMF/World Bank had to threaten the government with a big stick for that to begin to happen, and not so long ago!

Ahmadou Ahidjo began the policy of keeping such moneys apart out of the naïve, if sincere, consideration that he didn’t want Cameroon to suffer the fate of other oil-producing countries which remained poor, in spite of the black gold. He spent some of it to build the Douala-Yaounde road and provided housing in Bonamoussadi/Makepe in Douala.

Poor man, he left the bulk of it for his spendthrift successor to blow; and blow he did it well. Before anyone could say Jack Robinson everything had been squandered, plunging the nation into a long and deep recession. Remember Ben Gun, what he did with his own share of treasure? (“Treasure Island” by R.L. Stevenson)

Manna is not a thing that comes everyday to poor abused economies like Cameroon. But this year 2008 seems to be a blessed year. The long months of very high prices of crude oil have brought Cameroon and other oil producing countries real manna.

Gabon has already indicated it would use the extra revenues to clear its debts while Congo (Brazzaville) is pouring it into development projects. Equatorial Guinea wants to become an el dorado As for Cameroon matters are never so straight forward. The news is not encouraging, not in the least.

Last year crude oil fetched some 630 billion fcfa. Surprisingly, the amount that entered the 2008 budget was 100 billion short! This year upon the 630 billion has been added 287 billion due to the high prices. The government can now count on nearly one billion, about double the contribution of crude oil to the 2009 budget.

But shock! shock! A peep into the draft of the 2009 budget shows that the contribution of crude oil has instead been dropped to only 400 billion fcfa! Where are the authorities keeping the people’s money? Why wouldn’t Cameroon like other countries not taking advantage of the extra revenue to lift the people?

Roads are deplorable; health infrastructure is far too inadequate; schools at all levels are grossly wanting in structures, equipment and teachers; there is no drinking water across the country. Agriculture and animal husbandry are crying for massive investment. Why does the government not want to put the extra money for the benefit of the suffering masses?

Only this week Nigeria decided to pour 700 million dollars (c.350 billion fcfa) into agriculture to reinforce their food self-sufficiency programme. Where have the Yaounde authorities hidden the people’s money?

The observer

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Erosion of national security!Cameroon’s safety is now under attack by its own security chiefs facilitated by Paul Biya’s inaction and absence

The frequency and daringness of national security incidents in Cameroon in recent times must force Paul Biya out of his lethargy to address the issue with muscle. The kidnapping of an Equatorial Guinea army colonel from Yaounde has all the ingredients of real danger for the safety of Cameroon. It is moreover a major humiliating diplomatic defeat of Biya by Obiang Nguema Mbasago. Should Biya in spite of this still continue in his outmoded style events will surely overtake him.

The frequency with which incidents that test the security of Cameroon are taking place nowadays cannot leave any observer indifferent. What is surprising is Paul Biya’s inability to act in the face of the alarming multiplication of the happenings which many believe occur in the first place because of the president’s laxity and absence.

For a country that was once reputed to have one of the most dependable national security networks in Africa, what is happening now only demonstrates how penetrable and weak that network has become and how equally vulnerable Cameroon is today.
Consider the number of incidents in the last eleven months alone viz: the three successive Bakassi incidents involving the ambushing and humiliation of Cameroon’s armed forces by Nigerian rebels, leaving in their trails so much military blood in peacetime.

In the last one month alone security incidents have assumed a phenomenal increase and a daringness that make Biya’s continuous lukewarmness all but criminal. The Limbe terror bank robbery; the simultaneous fire-gutting of four army generals’ offices in Yaounde and the kipnapping of a defected Equatorial Guinea army colonel on asylum in Cameroon, all taking place in quick succession definitely deserved some muscular and vigorous response by the authorities.
What is worrisome about these incidents is that though separate and unrelated, they are widely believed to be the handiwork of senior security officials. Taking advantage of their positions and authority they act out of selfish motives, encouraged by the total absence of checks on them.
Even when reports get to Paul Biya he often appears unconcerned. And, if he will act it takes so long, sometimes years to do so. In the meantime the same culprits aggravate the damage they do to the public good.

Limbe robbery

Some of the actions now taking place are feeble and afterthoughts. It was in the third week of the Limbe robbery that the authorities undertook a search of Dock-yard to look for clues! Nothing so far has been done to the defence minister who told the public that he had been aware of threats to attack a coastal locality.

Why isn’t there a public judicial inquiry into the incident so that Remy Ze Meka could make a full statement and answer questions from the public? And why does it take so much time for the public to know what government is doing to prevent similar attacks in the future and also to arrest the culprits?
It is in the recent kidnapping of Cyprian Nguema Mba, the defected Equatorial Guinea army colonel, on political asylum in Yaounde in the last four years that the collusion of senior Cameroonian security officials has been exposed.

This newspaper has learnt reliably that contrary to a statement by MINREX attributing the act to two junior policemen, the abduction was a well-coordinated activity involving both Malabo authorities who dispatched two cover agents to Yaounde to work with some top brass of the judicial police and the Yaounde central police station.

In many ways the abduction was a blow to Paul Biya and his 26-year regime. At diplomatic level Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the EG president scored a major victory over Biya who had repeatedly refused the former’s request to repatriate the defecting colonel.
Biya’s safe-keeping of Nguema Mba in Yaounde was not only provocative to Malabo; Nguema Mba along with other defectors constituted a security threat to Malabo. A little unreported incident of last April’s CEMAC summit in Yaounde illustrates this point.
The EG president had ferried along in his sparkling new presidential jet an armoured and bullet proof car that he had intended to use while in Yaounde to protect himself from his enemies lurking in Cameroon. Paul Biya who was at the airport receiving his guests as they arrived, had to categorically refuse the unloading of the car, giving copious assurances of Obiang Nguema’s safety.

The kidnapping also proved how penetrable Yaounde’s security arrangements were. The ease with which the two EG undercover agents travelled to Yaounde, the ease with which the men at the top could yield to lavish petrodollars which EG is now awash with and the ease with which Nguema Mba was driven through to Bata, crossing the closed border at Kye Osi must tell anyone how very successful the operation was.

Betrayal and disloyalty

Another factor that Paul Biya must worry about is the disloyalty of his security men who took a strategic opportunity to betray him. He probably will send them to the military tribunal and punish them with long jail sentences, but the damage would have been done.
The fact of betrayal at that level, seen from another perspective, is not just for the money, temptingly good as it might have been. Mustn’t that warn Biya that somewhere along the line even the most trustworthy of his men are also getting tired of him?

Still for the kidnapping to have started at all the top security men who facilitated it took advantage of the paralysis of power in Yaounde; the long, too long absence of Paul Biya abroad. That, of course, creates a sense of vacuum at the top. That vacuum opens gaps for many things to slip through; and for some risks to appear safe where they would otherwise not be. And then come the petrodollars which Yaounde bureaucrats cannot resist!
In the end Cameroon’s increasing national security problems can be said to be both the consequence and the cause of the dysfunction of the Biya regime.

For instance, it is widely held, with evidence to convince, that the Bakassi incidents were not unconnected with the activity of arms trafficking by some military chiefs. Why did Biya let it continue year after year?
The same greed motive is to be seen in the Limbe robbery. The extent to which the big and powerful are willing to go to make money is troubling. The opportunity is provided by the Biya regime. The same well-known absence of control and culture of impunity open the way for corruption and criminal abuse of office.

Paul Biya’s unduly long absences from home may for now be evidence of how well he has his hands on the reins of power. But the rate and daringness with which the nation’s security is being endangered for selfish motives by the very ones who should guarantee it hardly augur well for the future continuation of that style. Mightn’t he realise his error too late?

Culled from The Herald

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Paul Biya: The president who fools himself

One provision of the articles of the constitution of the republic of Cameroon that was revised last April was that the president would not bear responsibility for his acts during and after leaving office.
Given the urgency of other changes at the time, this one went unnoticed, and un-discussed! This same provision had in fact been included in the draft of the 1996 revised constitution. At that time Paul Biya allowed public debate of the draft and the hue and cry against that article led to its being withdrawn.

That it came back again this time into the constitution suggests clearly that the president sincerely believes that in the exercise of his powers he should not owe responsibility to the people. What a shame!

At governance level, non-accountability of leadership is a cardinal feature only of dictatorships. If Biya believes, as he says often, that Cameroon is democratic then its leader owes to render account to the people from whom he is supposed to have derived his power. Now that he does not want to render account to anybody that can only be proof that Cameroon is a dictatorship.

At a more fundamental level the president acts out of ignorance of the nature of man. Isn’t that unfortunate at his advanced age? The very nature of the human being obliges responsibility. This means to be accountable for one’s deeds. Being answerable for one’s deeds is an intrinsic (inseparable) quality of the human spirit. Contrary to the wishes of the likes of Biya accountability is an automatic function of the human being.
Man therefore has no choice about this. Whether he likes it or not the self-active Laws oblige man to account for his acts. Adamantine stands the Law: whatsoever a man soweth, that same shall he reap. ‘Shall’ indicates obligation. Therefore let Paul Biya and his equally ignorant parliamentarians know that nobody has ever escaped the obligation to render account for his deeds.

But the Laws of existence are not one-sided. Because of the obligation to render account for his deeds, man is also endowed with a free will. He is therefore completely free to decide as he wills but remains irrevocably tied to the consequences of his decisions. Such is the great grace of the free will which human beings are urged to use wisely.
A political leader who uses the power he gets to raise his people and make them prosperous and happy will inevitably earn the praise and blessing of his people. But that will not be all. He will earn the eternal reward of his master whose gifts he would have put to good use for the benefit of the people.

It is needless here to warn Biya that he cannot escape the hand of fate that will bring him to render account for his stewardship as a leader of the people and country of Cameroon.
If the president had been confident of his performance and was proud of it why would he go so far as to inscribe it in the fundamental law of the land that nobody should ever ask him what he did with the power he held for so long?

That refusal to be answerable is already a grave self accusation and condemnation. Let Paul Biya be advised. His ignorance of the Laws counts for nothing. Adamantine stands the Law: Whatsoever a man soweth that same shall he reap. Where shall Biya escape to when the time of reckoning strikes?

The only anti-dote to this is to start vigorously reversing the enormous and long suffering his regime has visited on the people.

The observer

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Cameroon: Government accuse of crimes against humanity

One of Cameroon’s outspoken Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Ayah Paul Abine, has accused government for seeking a pretext to wipe out his people - the Olitis of Akwaya, a boarder town with the republic of Nigeria. “If today again I have felt the strong urge to put on paper the heinous crimes against my people, the sole purpose is to let it be known beforehand the crude indirect way the government of Cameroon is seeking a pretext to wipe out the Olitis. The justification is that we may not in our time-tested system of cover-up pretend to set up formality commissions of enquiry tomorrow”,

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Reason Hon. Ayah, who is on record as the only MP from the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) party who stood against amending the country’s constitution for an unlimited presidential term early this year, told the PM, he was writing “not on the collective punishment on my people who have gone for ten months today without shelter, food and water because I have dared to object to the unconscionable”.

The CPDM Member of Parliament, who is a supper scale magistrate in the country’s judiciary system, faulted the gendarmes for being part of the problem. “From all the information you have certainly received from those veiled in untested security apparel, you surely are not without knowledge of the atrocities the gendarmes are committing in Akwaya town on a daily basis”, he told the PM. Adding, “In your position and exposure to the international scene, you of course know better than I do that these are crimes against humanity. You are equally aware of the consequences of the official connivance, the fact that those crimes are aimed at realising some political objective notwithstanding”.

For the purpose of documentation, the MP enlisted a number of crimes committed against his own people by government security agents.

Hear him “I have the honour to list here just a few more of those crimes in order to forestall our notorious fantasy about absence of information in time. You surely are already aware of the horrible case of my cousin, Anthony Obendi, who was locked up and tortured for about a week. He was denied food, treatment and even water for that long; and he has since been castrated because his reproductive organs were sadistically mistreated

In the war against “Ayah’s men” that disregards all international norms of warfare, even women are not spared. The security in their peremptory duty to report have no doubt reported to you by now that the Brigade Commander came upon the daughter of late Chief Shadrack Agbor, one Laurencia Azenda, who was frying fish by their door. In this war where the end justifies the means, he kicked the fry pan against the lady, and the poor girl got badly scalded. Are even innocent women struggling for survival marked with the sign of perdition as “Ayah’s men”?

12 September 2008, a group of persons were passing in front of the gendarmerie brigade. They were ordered to come over to the brigade. After identification, all the Assumbo men among the group were told to leave. The four Olitis in the group from the village of Enya-Echa, including Ayah William and Akwo Eyenge Ferdinand, were locked up and tortured for days. They too, as usual, were denied all fares including water.

Two days later, the gendarmes attacked the weekly market of
Akwaya Town. In the stampede, foodstuffs were destroyed and people lost the little money they had. For three weeks running, the market could not hold for fear of further attacks. This at a time that children had to go back to school in an area where schooling was severely disrupted most of last academic year, with the result that in Ballin, for instance, only four pupils passed the First School Leaving Certificate Examination out of over four hundred! That was a market where the Olitis sold in order to get some money to assist Oliti refugees condemned to debilitating death by their own government.

The case of one Awayul Simon was most pathetic. He was picked up during the attack and tortured in the brigade until he bled from the nose, mouth and ears. Even in that condition, he was still locked up for two days without food, water or any treatment at all.

That the Oliti man is most peaceful and outstandingly honest is a fact most notorious! Who wants to argue to the contrary? An Oliti man is sentenced to a prison term rightly or wrongly. When he gets to a river in floods as he is being escorted to the Mamfe prison on foot, he takes the guard’s gun across to the opposite bank of the river. He then comes over and mounts on his back across the river the guard escorting him to the prison. Without passing judgment, I can proudly say that such high level of respect for the law and honesty is exclusive conduct in the world of today. But should that be the reason for subjecting them, with absolute impunity, to such inhuman treatment with official connivance and/or even encouragement?

Mr. Prime Minister,

There is no one society the world over without radicals. That’s a cause for concern! Except to the extent that these tortures are officially organised so that your government may have cause to conduct genocide against my people, you may wish to ignore no more this horrible situation in order to forestall the manifestation of radicalism, please. Are we not talking here about human beings with inalienable rights, Sir?”
Ayah wrote in his petition to the prime minister of the republic of Cameroon.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Political parties and the courts

Althoug many avenues for the courts to regulate political life in Cameroon through making pronouncements on issues shouting to be resolved remain wide open, the courts are still too condescending with the CPDM in power

By Tazoacha Asonganyi, Yaounde

Political parties usually think that they have the right to do as they wish, since they have the liberty to make their own rules. However, they are constrained to remain within the ambit of the rule of law since they are essentially associations of free citizens. Indeed, a political party is not just a collection of human beings but an assembly of people joined in an agreement on justice and partnership for the common good.

Most of the time, some members of political parties cover their self-interests with pretensions about “protecting” and “saving” the party from “destruction” by “enemies” through “anti-party” activities, which usually mean just anything that is not in the interest of the usurpers! They engage in the naïve practice of always reaching judgment by ignoring external dangers or wishing them away; in hanging to personal, self-serving convictions and outdated ideologies as guides for determining the interests of the party. They are permanently engaged in shadow boxing in matches the shadow is always going to win! In this apocalyptic struggle to preserve/protect the party, rules are stripped of their essence and used in the crusade against “indiscipline”. Not unexpectedly, such illusions easily slide into the settlement of political and social scores in total disregard of the real interests of the party.
Sooner or later, some aggrieved members turn to the courts to test the general understanding and solidity of the rules.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party in power in Nigeria that recently dismissed the executive committee of the party in Anambra state was recently ordered by the High Court in Onitsha to reinstate the executive. The party has obliged, declaring that “the mood of the party ... is to respect judicial pronouncements as regards ... our party and we shall continue to do so...PDP as the party in the centre cannot afford to be anti-rule of law...”

The SDF was also reminded recently in Cameroon that it cannot enjoy too much impunity. Last year it removed the provincial executive committee of the West from office and replaced it with a caretaker team. The High Court in Mfoundi recently ordered the executive to be reinstated. In spite of usual equivocation that earns headlines like “Fru Ndi Snubs Court Decision...,” their regular use of the courts to resolve even some internal party matters leaves no doubt that they know the courts have a say in their internal affairs

Although many avenues for the courts to regulate political life in
Cameroon through making pronouncements on issues shouting to be resolved remain wide-open, the courts are still too condescending with the CPDM party in power. The confessions in courts by cronies of the party that some of the public money they embezzled went to CPDM coffers would have led the courts to order the return of the funds to the public treasury by the party, especially as the party continues to publish mainly the names of managers of significant amounts of public funds and other resources as their lead campaign people.

Further, it is incredible that although NEO has said among other things that 150 of 361 polling station results in Douala V were falsified before they were transferred to the Council Supervisory Commission during the 2007 twin elections, the court only cancelled the results, instead of establishing the true results using NEO counting sheets, and ensuring that the culprits are identified and punished! This leniency of NEO and the courts towards those who falsify election results can only embolden election riggers, and ridicule the present noises of NEO about punishing those who will fraud during the election reruns. It can only help unpopular politicians to continue to call the shots against the will of the people.

It is the duty of the courts to say what the law is. It is also the duty of the courts to ensure that in the discharge of their duties, nobody is perceived to be above the law; and that equality is not just the preaching of the righteous but a reality in the life of the people

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What makes a good president?

Americans have the very serious responsibility of electing a new president in the coming weeks.

What makes a good president?

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

It is a bit like the article I wrote a few weeks ago about “What makes a Great Man, great?”

I concluded that it was “God values” not “Human values”

God asks of a new president, the same that He asks of all of us. The words of the prophet Micah sum up what God asks: “that you act justly, that you love tenderly, that you walk humbly with God”

Which of the candidates reflects best what God is asking of all mankind?

That candidate will make for the best president.

Maybe that candidate is lacking in other skills or talents.

Then we must trust that God will equip him with the strength he needs and the humility to learn.

It is important that the new president act justly for all regardless of race, age or gender and not to lose sight that to be president is to serve. Humility is necessary. It is also important that the president learns how to love the people that he serves or else he will end up only loving himself. When that happens, corruption follows.

Let us pray for all those voting in the coming days. Let us pray for wisdom. Let us pray that God will give America a good president who is also a good man.

For your reflection:

Will you vote in America?

Will you pray before you vote?

Does either candidates represent “God values” to you?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Cameroon: Counterfeit foreign banknotes in wild circulation

The Herald newspaper reports that officials at various money-transfer outfits in Cameroon say the number of fake banknotes detected in the course of their daily operations is nearing alarming levels. Most of them held that counterfeit euros and dollars are circulating wildly since a couple of weeks.
Curiously, none of the fake banknotes possessors have been arrested. “Many of those in possession of the counterfeit money are very respectable individuals you will hardly suspect. This week alone, I’ve had five cases and most of them are people who recently travelled to the country. They generally express surprise when they are informed that their money is fake,” Gladys D., a waiter at a money-transfer company in the country's economic capital of Douala, told the newspaper.

Even currency dealers operating at the popular exchange black market in the vicinities are reported to have stepped up vigilance. Many said they have noticed a surge in the circulation of the forged foreign currencies in the past few weeks. They said the fake money, at first sight, appears very genuine until detection devices are put to use. “For the moment, cases involving FCFA banknotes are rare,” a dealer narrated.

The increase in the circulation of fake euros and dollars has been linked to the ongoing global financial crisis. According to recent reports, counterfeit money printers are taking advantage of the tightening of credit by banks in the West to flood markets with the forged banknotes.

A Cameroon national, Roger Makam, was last week remanded in custody in Fiji after he was charged by police with printing counterfeit American $100 banknotes. Reports say he was found in possession of equipment used to print the notes in his hotel room. State prosecutors told the court that Makam had been able to print a considerable amount of notes. He is suspected to be part of a bigger network printing fake currencies and moving throughout the Pacific

Elsewhere, Belgian criminal police have reported that about a fortnight ago, an individual from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast successfully entered the country via the Brussels Airport with a bag-load of counterfeit 50-euro banknotes dated 2002. He purportedly changed 100.000 euros within 24 hours. The man, whose names police are withholding, is said to be about 40 years old, of Ivorian nationality.

Belgian police say they have evidence indicating that the fake money he successfully discharged into their system was manufactured at a Chinese printing house in Abidjan . They say other Africans [and Ivorian nationals in particular] acting as middlemen are known to be vending the fake euros in Belgium and other parts of Europe at 10 percent of their actual face value.

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Ephraim Inoni and South West: Lies that elite delight in telling their people

Politics seems to be the most common arena where under pressure of scoring points, people easily yield to immorality. They deliberately promise the thing they cannot give or do not intend to give. Where several candidates contest for one position matters can become so bad that individuals attack themselves using malicious lies.

Those who watch the current presidential contest in the US most have noticed the flourishing of a truth verification industry. This is the emergence of individuals and groups across the nation whose business is to check the truth value of statements made by candidates and their associates to win the electorate or to discredit their rivals.

But it is not with the 2008 presidential campaign that the use of lies began. Herbert Bush, George Bush’s father is famously remembered for his campaign promise not to raise taxes, which he did once in the White House. “Watch my lips”, he said placing his forefinger against his lips, “I will not raise taxes.”

In Cameroon this culture of manipulation of the electorate is well-known. On the eve of important elections elite of the ruling party drag in earth moving equipment to give the impression of some road work about to begin. Work never begins, of course. At the next election another trick comes up.
At the October 1992 presidential election former Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu did something similar to Herbert Bush. “See my head,” pointing to his baldness as a sign of old age and trust, “I cannot tell you a lie.” The government, he vowed, would tar the road to Nkambe. That road to this day remains untarred.

Cameroonians have become weary and indifferent to these lies that they take every opportunity to tell them. More and more they are to be pitied. The problem is not of their making.
Imagine, for instance, that in nearly 50 years of independence Cameroon has only 5,000 kms of tarred roads. Presently 2,000 kms of the 5,000 are unusable due to maintenance neglect.

Angola, for instance, that ended its 30-year civil war in 2002, has today developed 2,600 kms of modern all-seasonal roads, building in the process about 235 bridges!

In the face of that kind of a record the Biya regime can be accused of criminal neglect of the development of Cameroon! No bitterness! That is why when Ephraim Inoni went home recently and began blowing those same lies he has told repeatedly his audience was patient with him. When it was over he took his seat and, not surprisingly, there was no applause, not even for the politeness of it.

South Westerners should not fool themselves about the Limbe deep sea port. That announcement came up only to appease SW discontent after Biya took the project to Kribi. Inoni also failed to explain why Biya forced the Chinese to take away their cement factory from Limbe which they preferred to anywhere else even when they knew of the South Korean project?

As for the shipping yard, the question is why it stopped after the 2004 election for which it was intended to get votes? Instead of telling the truth that sets people free we were entertained to even more promises. What become of all that long list of projects that were promised at Inoni’s homecoming in 2005? Where is the road to Ndian division that was high on the list?

Let us give Inoni the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t fooling the people this time around and that all those projects he announced will see the light of day. The question is why they were limited to only Fako and (a stadium) in Kumba? Nothing at all for Ndian, Kupe Muanenguba, Manyu and Lebialem? Is Ephraim Inoni redrawing the map of the South West province?

Happily for the (Fako?) PM this debate is uncalled for, for the simple reason that this regime is a failure. It has nothing for anybody other themselves. That is why its elite like Ephraim Inoni cleverly put projects in the budget in order to continue telling their shameless lies to their own people. Who is fooling who?
The irony in all this is that Paul Biya still expects Inoni to deliver the SW to the CPDM. But the great lesson of Muyuka is that the SW has for too long been taken for a ride. The people have trusted and given full-hearted support to the Biya regime but have in turn received too little, if anything at all. They will no longer be taken for granted.

Source: The Observer

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Threats of food scarcity in Cameroon: FAO allocates 250m FCFA to boost food production

900 million people in developing countries are faced with food shortage

The very idea that the modern world could run out of food seems ludicrous, but that is the flip side, or cause, of the tremendous recent increase in the cost of raw wheat, corn, rice, oats and soybeans. Food prices are not escalating because speculators have run them up for sport and profit, but because accelerating demand in developing nations, biofuel production and poor harvests in some areas have made basic foodstuffs truly scarce.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the main United Nations agency specializing in all aspects of food quality and safety, and in all the the different stages of food production, harvest, post-harvest handling, storage, transport, processing and distribution.

FAO adheres to the food chain approach in managing food safety and quality as a recognition of the responsibility of all actors in the food chain for the supply of food that is safe, healthy and nutritious.

FAO's Food Quality and Standards Service (AGNS) is committed to the enhancement of food safety and quality along the food chain at all levels, with the aim of preventing food-borne diseases, protecting consumers and promoting fair practices in the food trade.

It is within this backdrop that the organisation has made available the sum of 250m to the republic of Cameroon to scale up food production in the country and check impending threats of food scarcity

The organisation's regional representative here made the revelation at a ceremony to celebrate the organisation’s 30th anniversary in Yaounde – Cameroon. Adding that some towns in the country like Bertoua and Ebolowa have already benefited from the 250 million FCFA package given that they have already received farm tools and inputs.
While emphasising the fact that his organisation was leaving no stone unturned to solve the problem of food shortage and the consequent increase in prices within the shortest possible time Ousman Quindo, said the general director of FAO had alerted in December 2007 that the world was facing a food crisis that would stimulate a sudden increase in the price of food items. Reason why FAO organised a high level conference in Rome that assembled over 181 governments, and attended by many heads of State, to try to find solutions to the impending crisis from 3 to 5 June 2008.
Participants at the conference unanimously agreed to get up from slumber and take the necessary measures to fight against hunger and its related consequences.
Jean Kwete, Cameroon's minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,urged the organisation not to end at that but to intensify the war against hunger. That FAO must act very fast in order to ameliorate the food problem that is already causing untold damage in some parts of the world.
Meanwhile, a recent report has disclosed that 900 million people in developing countries are faced with food shortage due to an increase in the prices of wheat and other foodstuffs.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Council Election Reruns in Cameroon: Political parties preach anti-fraud, vigilance

Court rejects CPDM request for disqualification of SDF list

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Following wide spread irregularities during the last twin elections of 22nd July 2007, in Cameroon, the country's supreme court ruled in one of the complaints tabled by the opposition that fresh municipal elections be conducted in Doula V constituency in the littoral province. Consequently, the election will take place next 26th October, 2008.So far, campaigns for the race have started and the UPC, commonly deemed underdogs in the race is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to cajole voters. Militants of the party, who claim to have gone furthest in door-to-door campaigns, recently thronged the Bedi-Malange congregation of the Evangelical Church of Cameroon (EEC), to implore divine intervention ahead of the 26 October council election reruns. Politicking and religion witnessed a strange blend as elders of the church tapped inspiration from Mathew 22:1-14. Parish elder, Mankolo Titi, said the UPC was God’s chosen political party in Douala V and would win no matter what. The party’s national secretary for communications and propaganda, Adolphe Papy Ndoumbe, who presented the UPC’s manifesto for the reruns in church, said the party will improve the livelihoods of the population if it wins. He said the party, one of the oldest in Cameroon , will count on its experience and history of sacrifice to the country. The UPC has repartitioned the constituency into 48 zones for its proximity campaign strategy. The party’s council list is headed by 74-year-old Emmanuel Kote who spent 16 years in prison for his UPC inclination.
Meanwhile other opposition political parties particularly the SDF have been preaching peace, anti-fraud, and vigilance. The SDF and UPC have continued issuing threats of unspecified action in the case of rigging as the countdown to the rerun narrows. According to Jean Michel Nitcheu, the party’s provincial chair, elections fraudsters will have it hot from watchdogs due deployment on the eve of the poll. He told representatives of the National Elections Observatory at a heated meeting that the SDF was in possession of evidence of a vast rigging machine put in place by the CPDM.

The SDF recently flagged off its campaign in the Douala V council area with a motorized caravan featuring party bigwigs who combed 52 neighborhoods in the municipality. High on the menu of instructions to militants, from party contender for the post of mayor, Abel Elimbi Lobe through influential member Edouard Kembeng to provincial chair, Jean Michel Nitcheu, were reverberating calls for them to sanction the “election-rigging CPDM” come 26 October and especially watch out for electoral fraud. According to Elimbi Lobe, the CPDM has achieved virtually nothing for six years at the council helm. He promised to build a council educational establishment to provide low-cost education; as well as optimize municipal resources to prop a potentially rich business sector which he claimed had remained dormant under the CPDM reign in Douala V. He said nonchalance by the CPDM-led council had only engendered urban disorder which the SDF intends to check by instilling respect for the law. He called on the electorate to consolidate the confidence bestowed in the SDF when it gave it a relative majority at the 30 September legislative rerun in the constituency. The SDF was flanked by militants from Jean Jacque Ekindi’s MP who said they were fully behind the SDF and would contribute everything for the fellow opposition party to win the Douala V Council.
The CPDM on its part has dispatched an impressive delegation to Douala led by Central Committee and Wouri divisional campaign commission president, Camille Ekindi. He urged comrades to bury their hatchets and unite behind Francoise Foning to authenticate the party’s hegemony in the constituency. Speaking recently EKINDI, warned that internal bickering could compromise victory and called for unity. Outgoing Francoise Foning, Douala V mayor since 2002 appeared especially puffed. “I don’t have any campaigns to be making here. You all know that it is in your interests to give me and the CPDM victory in Douala V. Despite the insults from some of you, announcements of my death in advance and mudslinging, here I am and here I am to win,” she declared. Foning had earlier boasted that if election reruns are conducted a hundred times, she will win a hundred times. But Foning created enemies during last year’s primaries in which she was accused of using uncanny methods to eliminate opponents. These angry opponents are now said to be secretly campaigning for the opposition to punish Foning. But the CPDM seems desperate to rescue the famed party mascot.

Meanwhile Plans by the ruling CPDM to have the SDF list of contenders for the Douala V Council disqualified have been foiled. Incumbent mayor, Françoise Foning, last week filed a petition at the Supreme Court claiming that one of the candidates on the SDF list was registered under two constituencies.

However, a recent verdict by the country's supreme court cleared the SDF’s Gabriel Wato of the charge. It ruled that he was lawfully fit to contest the 26 October poll in Douala V and squashed the matter
The CPDM alleged that Wato, who previously registered in Douala 1 and now gunning for a post as councillor in Douala V, regularised his situation long before the 22 July 2007 elections whose results were annulled in Douala V. Though the court ruled that he was eligible to vote or vie as candidate for the SDF in the municipality, Foning’s lawyers who filed the complaint last week had appeared very upbeat. Penka Michel, a lawyer and member of the CPDM campaign commission for the Douala V rerun, said the matter constituted a serious electoral irregularity. He even went ahead to declare that the eventual disqualification of the SDF list would be commensurate with non-participation in the rerun.
On her part Foning who reacted from Belgium where she is attending a business meeting said she fully accepted the Supreme Court verdict but warned that the CPDM had noticed other irregularities ahead of the rerun and would seize the courts when the need arises.
The indicted SDF candidate described the move was a typical CPDM tactic intended to distract public opinion. He claimed he possessed legal documents to contradict the petition.

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Cameroon:Human Rights violators schooled

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction”. Thus article 1-30 of the said declaration call for the protection of these rights by member states.

But in Cameroon there still exists gross violations of human rights despite the country’s adoption and ratification of this international instruments protecting human rights. Here the rights of citizens are being violated on a daily basis especially by those who are to protect them.

Though the situation has not escaped the eyes of the country's National Commission on human rights and freedoms (NCHRF) the body seems powerless especially as its rely on government for support. Some experts in human rights have observed that Cameroon has one of the worst human right records in the world.
Like NCHRF officials, experts say human right violations are more recurrent and common in the judiciary system of the country than in other sectors of national life.
In a bid to promote the respect of the rights of citizens, here the NCHRF in collaboration with the UN development programme recently organized a training workshop for personnel working in Cameroon’s judicial system
The workshop brought together some 30 judicial officials including 20 magistrates, two military judges, four lawyers, two police officers and two gendarme officers
In course of the workshop resource persons who include an expert and consultant on human rights from the civil society, and other experts from the UN Centre for human rights and democracy (UNCHRD) and the NCHRF drill the participants on tools (national and international instruments) to be used for a better protection of human rights, namely.
The experts further sensitized the magistrates to better perceive and play their role as protectors of human rights rather than violators.
A press release from the NCHRF observed that flaws and loopholes in Cameroon’s judicial machine pave the way for judicial personnel to orchestrate gross human rights violations including illegal arrests, prolonged detention without trial, ill-treatments during remand, detention in unhygienic conditions etc. The NCHRF release further states that the flaws in the judiciary are compounded by a paltry financial, human and material resource base. And that due to these weaknesses, the populations have lost faith in the judicial system and sometimes are forced to resort to popular justice which is a violation of human rights.

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Illegal migration: EU creates migration centre in Africa

But critics say centre will not curb the problem

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Despite harsher immigration laws, Africans in great numbers are still taking huge risks to illegally emigrate to the northern hemisphere. To put the situation under control the European Union (EU), recently moved to export its controls on illegal immigration for the first time by setting up a new office in Africa, the first of several it plans to open to try to deal at source with a flood of migration. EU set up the centre in a bid to reduce the chaos and dissuade Africans from taking the hazardous routes to Europe
The migration information and management centre (CIGEM) was inaugurated in Bamako, Mali on 6 October, by Louis Michel, the EU's development commissioner. Mali, is one of the world's poorest countries and a hub for tens of thousands of Africans who try to get to Europe illegally every year by embarking on boats to Spain's Canary Islands from the west coast of Africa. Many of them die en route. EU officials said the Mali project was just the pilot phase of a broader project that would be implanted in other countries especially in West Africa where migration is rampant.
The CIGEM has as objective to help improve on the management and control of migration. “It will come up with a migration policy that addresses the concerns of both potential migrants and returning migrants, a press release of the EU commission stated, adding that “Mali and the EU commission are working together through this project to realise Africa-EU partnership commitments on migration, mobility and employment.”
CIGEM is essentially financed by the EU under the 9th European development fund with about 10 million euros.
Louis Michel who played a central role in the setting up of the centre, made it clear that “instead of demonising the migration phenomenon, it should be supported, structured and managed optimally as a positive human element for both Africa and Europe. The centre paves the way for managing migration flows more effectively and making greater use of the development opportunities provided by migration,”.
The creation of a migration management centre is one of the outcomes of the new Africa-EU partnership decided in Lisbon in December 2007.
But critics say the creation of the centre will not curb illegal immigration as it is unlikely to significantly increase the number of Africans who get legal entry into Europe. It is also criticised for favouring the selective immigration policy variously described as racist and discriminatory.
The EU for some years now has tightened visa conditions for Africansforcingmany to try dangerous routes into Europe including the rough high seas of the Mediterranean and crossing through long-stretching deserts.

Prominent personalities present at the inaugural were Louis Michel, EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Amadou Toumani Toure, president of Mali and Brice Hortefeux, French minister for immigration, integration, identity and cooperative development.

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Cameroonians called to be neat

That filthiness is the cause of diseases and deaths

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Disease is a term for any condition that impairs the normal functioning of an organism or body. Although plants and animals also contract diseases, by far the most significant disease-related areas of interest are those conditions that afflict human beings. They can be divided into three categories: intrinsic, or coming from within the body;extrinsic, or emerging from outside it; and of unknown origin. Until the twentieth century brought changes in the living standards and health care of industrialized societies, extrinsic diseases were the greater threat; today, however, diseases of intrinsic origin are much more familiar. Among them are stress-related diseases, autoimmune disorders, cancers, hereditary diseases, glandular conditions, and conditions resulting from malnutrition. There are also illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, whose causes remain essentially unknown.

Reason why Jean Bernard Sindeu, Cameroon's minister of Water and Energy revently urged Cameroonians to adopt cleanliness as a way of life in order to reduce the current high infant mortality as well as make the country look more attractive and free from killer related diseases. The minister used the occasion of the installation of the executive bureau of the governmental organisation, Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), to tell Cameroonians that to fight against unhygienic conditions is crucial at this time.
He said the organisation will help government to discard waste and rubbish, make Cameroon’s cities more attractive and ensure an overall good sanitary environment.
Sindeu, whose ministry is coordinating WASH activities in Cameroon in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, expressed the wish that the new organisation will enable Cameroonians to have real access to cleanliness and good health.
To the Africa regional adviser, WASH is a government initiative supported by international bodies to work with member states to review the hygienic and sanitary situations of their countries. To the regional adviser governments will be influenced to change their political programmes by adding hygiene and sanitation which is an important aspect of the UN Millennium Development Goals through the contribution of donors, .

The objectives of the organisation include cleaning filthy environments, providing clean drinking water to citizens of member countries, reducing the incidence of diarrhoea which is a major cause of infant mortality, among other things.
Every month, the director of hydraulics and hydrology at the Ministry of Water and Energy who is the president of WASH Cameroon, meets with members of the organisation.
Many countries, including six African nations, are members of WASH.

Meanwhile the Non Governmental Organisation, Health Promotion Watch, has said UN statistics indicate that 3.5 million children in the world die every year because of filthy hands.
To the NGO, the deaths are caused by diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, hepatitis A, yellow fever, intestinal parasites which are transmitted to the children by people with dirty hands.
Like the minister, Health Promotion Watch officials advised Cameroonians to always wash their hands with soap to reduce the incidence of these diseases. They recommended that people should especially wash their hands with soap after visiting the toilet, after coughing, after dressing body wounds, before preparing food, before feeding a child and before taking care of a sick person.
People should also wash their hands with soap after opening the door of a house by holding the handle, after pressing the button of a lift, after opening the door of a car and after shaking hands because their hands would have been contaminated with bacteria.
According to health experts, washing hands without soap, a widespread practice in Cameroon, is not recommended because ordinary water does not eliminate bacteria on the hands.

Cameroonians should therefore learn to inculcate the culture of using soap to wash their hands in the house, at school, at the work place and in public places.

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Prolonged stay abroad:Tired and uninterested in his job, Biya must now organise democratic transfer of power

However you look at it, Paul Biya is dead tired to continue in Office. He can’t even make it to 2011. His prolonged and repeated sojourns abroad are evidence of the president escaping work and resting a body too tired for any hard work. Back home the man spends most of his time resting in Mvomeka’a, This newspaper pleads with Biya to surrender at this point. Let the president organise a transparent election to allow Cameroonians freely choose another man to take them forward. We urge our foreign partners also to see it this way.

Does Cameroon have a head of state? The sure answer is, of course, yes. But the reality is that the president has been absent abroad for so long that it would be correct to say there isn’t a de facto head of state.
Paul Biya left Cameroon on Thursday, 18 September for what a now familiar announcement said was “a short private stay in Europe.” He was also to attend the UN general assembly, the official announcement added.

The president was in fact in New York for a week. Since then there has been no official statement about Paul Biya’s whereabouts until last week when another announcement said he would be attending the Francophonie summit at Quebec City, Canada, that took place at the week-end.
There has been no official statement saying when Paul Biya would be back home, just like the first statement about his outward journey did not say for how long the president would be away.

If by some chance Paul Biya returns home this week he would have spent five weeks continuously abroad. It is not the first time that the president travels abroad for an undisclosed purpose and spends an unusually long time. In August Paul Biya travelled abroad for two weeks for no reason known to the public.

It was from confidential reports in the weekly Jeune Afrique magazine that it became known that he had spent the time in Paris. From other sources it was further learnt that he was in the French capital that long to be by the side of his sick wife who had been rushed to hospital there.
Last year Paul Biya also used the occasion of the UN general assembly to stay out for more than three weeks. He returned home to prepare yet another trip abroad where he spent some three weeks again to get a Cameroonian candidate re-elected on the UNESCO board as well as meet Nicolas Sarkozy for the first time.

It is noteworthy that the Cameroonian press gave the president favourable mention for trimming his trips abroad last year to two. The tradition is to take four or five such trips with each lasting three or four weeks.

Legislative election

Last year the president was much concerned about a legislative election that was to constitute an Assembly which helped revise the constitution to pave the way for yet another term. That kept him home.
Back home Paul Biya is not a hard worker. He easily tires of the daily routine that moves every government. The president’s work habit is extremely prejudicial to Yaounde’s centralised administration that obliges even unimportant matters to be sent to the president’s desk.

Paul Biya spends most of his day in leisure, and almost all the time at his village residence in Mvomeka’a, some 200 kms south of Yaounde. His entourage admits that each time you see him receive an important foreign guest at Etoudi he himself also just travels in from the village for the occasion.
The president’s work style and attitude are not a thing of today. Those who recall his days as prime minister or at an earlier position say that he has always been a lazy worker.

The point of this narrative, before it gets too long, is that however anyone looks at it Paul Biya has most definitely lost both interest and energy for his job as head of state. The cumulative effect of long years of lethargy now takes its toll.

There is absolutely no way he can conceal this, no matter how he pretends about it. Public media carry routine messages and decisions signed by Biya as part of this pretence. The president has once defended his absence from work by claiming that state institutions function normally in spite of his repeated and prolonged absences. All of this only begs the question as to why there is a president at all.
Paul Biya is not a patient hospitalised in Europe (like Levy Mwanawasa who was long in hospital in Paris before dying). Neither is Biya on annual leave. How many vacations is the president entitled to each year and for how long? These are surely not matters Cameroonians ever have an idea of.

Yet there isn’t a Cameroonian who considers their president’s prolonged stay abroad an acceptable thing. Every African leader who was at the UN with Biya since returned home to work. Needless to talk of European leaders, none of whom stayed more than a day or two at the UN.

Paul Biya’s record over twenty-six years in office does not help his defence. Cameroon suffers a huge development deficit. All development indices point to massive under-achievement. How could the president take a permanent holiday and think that all is well? Is he himself well and in touch with the reality of Cameroon?
Presently every African country is struggling to cope with the world-wide phenomenon of hiking prices of food and essential commodities as well as other pressing problems of health and education. How could Paul Biya be so unconcerned about the trauma that the daily lives of Cameroonians have since become?

Armed assailants

Upon these daily problems of hardship, the country itself is gradually slipping into insecurity. Last month well-armed assailants emerged from the sea in Limbe and sacked four banks, successfully ripping away the strong-room safe of one of the banks.
As one more evidence of the country’s lack of leadership due to Biya’s absence, the government has not as much as set an inquiry into the terrifying incident. Last week the prime minister was still promising one. In the meantime the offices of four army generals caught fire, consuming vital documents – another criminal act of insecurity.

Last week government forces provoked Nigerian rebels in Bakassi and misled the public by claiming they sank a rebel boat. The report was intended to raise the image of government soldiers that have in recent months suffered humiliation in the hands of Nigerian rebels. Again the leadership vacuum caused by Biya’s prolonged absences is responsible for such questionable acts.

None of these problems bothers Paul Biya to return home and take matters into his own hands as head of state. He claims that he directs the country from abroad. He has even been quoted as having told a European newspaper last year that he feels a lot better working from abroad than from home!
Imagine Nicolas Sarkozy setting up office in the US and telling the French he wants to work from there! How would national pride and sovereignty allow such outrageousness? Calls for immediate resignation and motions of impeachment would certainly follow. Yet that is what Paul Biya makes Cameroonians believe is normal!
Upon the well-established charge of absolute fatigue, it is further certain that Paul Biya doesn’t really love Cameroon. Isn’t it a shame that he sees nothing wrong in wanting to live abroad and operate Cameroon from there?

We are in no doubt that there now exists a strong case against the president wanting to continue in office. He is not fit; not even to continue to the end of his present mandate in 2011.
This newspaper urges the president to respect Cameroonians and prepare a proper election in the nearest future so that Cameroonians could for once freely elect their next leader to begin the long process of recovering Cameroon from the abyss where it is now.
We call upon the true friends of Cameroon viz: the US, EU, France and Britain, among others, to understand this position and urge Biya to accept that he is no longer capable to meet the challenges of leadership.

Source:The Herald

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cameroonian Asylee dies in Polish jail

The death has been announced of Simon Moleke Njie aka Simon Mol. The Cameroonian’s name hit the headlines in Poland over the last few years for deliberately infecting several Polish women with the lethal HIV virus. He reportedly died Saturday, 11 October at a Warsaw hospice.

Mol, 34, of Bakweri origin was placed under trial since July this year following his arrest last January. Public prosecutors said they received testimonies indicating that he intentionally infected over 40 women. Mol faced 10 years in prison. Yet, the Cameroonian declared he was ignorant of his status and refused to undergo treatment.
About a fortnight ago, reports indicated he was dying. In fact, he was temporarily transferred from pre-trial detention to hospital. Medics feared his health had so deteriorated he would hardly survive. They eventually failed to save the dying man who finally kicked the bucket at the weekend.
Investigators said shortly before his death, two more women levelled similar charges against him, eventually bringing the number of formally held accusations against him to 13. They said his victims were mostly young women whom he cornered by asking them to help him translate his articles, essays and poems from English to Polish.
He reportedly initially fled Cameroon in 1995 at age 22 after a purported spell of horrendous torture in jail. In one of his many writings posted on his website in July 2004, he claimed he was arrested upon return to Cameroon from South Africa by CENEER officials for carrying subversive documents. Included in the information he claimed to possess at the time, was proof that an unnamed Cameroonian minister had bought the sumptuous Queen Victoria Palace in Johannesburg at the towering cost of over 70 million US dollars.
That was the story he told Polish immigration officials as he sought refugee status. They eventually ruled that most of the story about his life was fabricated. Mol is not particularly known in the Cameroonian press to the point of going to research corruption in Johannesburg , a treat that not even the richest privately-run media in the country can afford.
Nonetheless he claimed his family and friends smuggled him from the country to a Pygmy village in Equatorial Guinea . From there, he wriggled into neighbouring Nigeria and then Ghana before finally ending in Poland over a decade ago. Mol, before his death, passed for the founder and secretary general of the Polish Association of Exiles, founder and editor-in-chief of Voice of Exile magazine, playwright, poet and exiled Cameroonian journalist. Polish police said the claims were bogus. But he claimed his trial was politically motivated.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Francophonie Summit: Reinforcing the Francophonie spirit and ideals.

Francophone means French-speaking and their world is comprised of more than fifty countries on five continents where French is commonly used in one of several ways: As maternal language used in the home, daily means of public communication, as the official language used in government and business or as the principal language of education.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Onésime Reclus, a French geographer who wanted to classify people according to language, coined the word francophone in the nineteenth century. But the term never really caught on until the 1960s when Léopold Sédar Senghor, first president of Sénégal, and one of the founders of the Négritude, or black pride, movement used it consistently. Today, the word is universally recognized in French.

Furthermore, there are over 150 million francophones in the world today with two of every three living out of France. And analysts say the proportion is likely to continue to increase.

Over 50 Heads of State and government and 13 observer-nations from French speaking nations began meeting in Quebec City today for the 12th Summit of the International Organisation known as the Franchophonie. Meeting under the theme: democracy and the rule of law, economic governance, environment and the French language, the leaders are expected to work also on the candidacies of two countries; Lithuania and Thailand, who have expressed their willingness to joining the group. If admitted the number of francophonie countries will move to 57.

The meeting which is holding on the hill of festivities marking 400 years of the creation of Quebec (1608 to 2008) by Samuel de Champlen, will examine a number of issues tabled before them by the 24th conference of Ministers of the Francophonie that met in Quebec from the 15-16 October.
Reports say Canada has sacrificed a whooping 57 million Canadian Dollars for the success of both event especially in providing security measures to guarantee safety for the thousands of guests

It is hoped that by the end of the meeting - next Sunday, the Francophonie leaders would have agreed on what form of dynamism the French Language should be given across the world, as well as actions to be taken by member-countries to reinforce the Francophonie spirit and ideals.
Speaking during the official opening ceremony, Francophonie's Secretary General, Abdou Diouf, among others drew up a balance sheet of activities of the Summit since the 11th Summit in 2006 in Bucharest.
Canada is on record for hosting several events organized by Francophonie member-countries such as the 40th session of the International Union of the Francophonie press,the 28th general assembly of Francophonie mayors, Summit meeting on the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) among others.

The following is a list of countries, islands and territories where French is an important language of communication:

North America


St Pierre et Miquelon Islands (France)

United States (Official in Louisiana)

Caribbean and South America

Dominica (Dominique in French)

Guadeloupe (France)

Guiana (France, Guyane in French)


Martinique (France)

St. Lucia (Ste. Lucie In French)

St. Bartholémy


Andorra (Andorre)

Belgium (Belqique)


Jersey Island


Algeria (Algérie)


Burkina Faso


Cameroon (Caméroun)

Central African Republic (Centrafrique)


Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaïre)

Egypt (Egypte)

Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)



Guinea (Guinée)


Mauritania (Mauritanie)



Senegal (Sénégal)

Chad (Tchad)


Tunisia (Tunisie)

Zaïre (Dem. Rep. of Congo as of 5/97)

Indian Ocean

Comoro Islands (Comores)


Mauricius (Ile Maurice)


Reunion Island (Réunion)(France)

Seychelle Islands (Séchelles)

Pacific Ocean

French Polynesia (Polynésie) including Tahiti

New Caledonia (Nouvelle Calédonie)

Wallis and Futuna (Wallis et Futuna)

Vanuatu (formerly Nouvelles-Hébrides)

Asia and Middle East

Lebanon (Liban)

Syria (Syrie)

India (Inde) esp. Pondichéry province

Kampuchea (Cambodia/ Cambodge)


Viet Nam

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Over 80% Cameroonian pupils are illiterate – UN report

Though the government of Cameroon has established new programmes to raise the quality of education of most children in primary schools UN reports say most of them can neither read nor write.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The reports note that Nursery and primary school pupils may be good at reciting but most of them cannot read, write or solve any arithmetical problems outside of the school setting.
Reports by the world body’s educational, cultural and scientific organ, UNESCO, and children’s emergency fund, UNICEF, published some years back, say more than 80 percent of Cameroonian pupils are illiterate.
The secretary general of the Ministry of Basic Education, Olinga Meka Rene, recently highlighted these UN findings during the opening of a four-day national training seminar jointly organised by La Francophonie and the Ministry of Basic Education.
Olinga noted that out of the school milieu, the overwhelming majority of pupils are incapable of using their intellect and are virtually daft when faced with practical situations, even though they may have a full mastery of the school programme.
This situation has been blamed on a dysfunctional academic system which has as corollary, low quality education.
But the secretary general pointed out that government has been trying to fight the problem by putting in place some priority programmes such as making primary education universal, improving the quality of education and ameliorating management and governance.
The seminar is expected to arm participants with the tools necessary to ensure that pupils acquire competence, are equipped to handle both French and English textbooks, performance is improve, autonomy is granted and school handicaps are overcome.
A Francophonie consultant, Philip Jonnaerttold, for his part, told workshop participants that textbooks are vital in developing pupils’ intellects and cannot be replaced even by the computer and ICTs.
He advised the government to adopt a system that ensures that the books chosen help pupils to know their immediate societies, while being coherent with international norms.
The seminar, he said, will enable Cameroon to elaborate, analyse and evaluate her educational system and to evaluate and diffuse development techniques so that accepted choices of textbooks and learning tools could be made

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Business: Poor information on investment opportunities in Cameroon scare investors

Earlier this year, the Japanese government undertook a commitment to double its assistance to investment strides in Africa . And then to match words with action, the Asian giant, at the TICAD IV Tokyo International Conference on African Development conclave held in Yokohama last May announced it had disbursed a credit line of 1 billion dollars.

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

The money is currently lodged at the African Development Bank (ADB) and is intended to prop private sector investment ventures on the continent. Initially, it was announced, it would be distributed in loans to eligible beneficiaries at an interest rate of 0.75 percent with repayment periods spanning 30 years, including a 10-year moratorium.
But Cameroonian businessmen have raised fears that the ADB may be planning to render access to the money prohibitive by increasing the interest rate. Ekoko Mukete, vice president of the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce who addressed a meeting of visiting delegation of Japanese investors and local businessmen, in Douala recently, raised fears that access to the funding might be complicated before long.
He hinted that the ADB was considering raising the interest rates to between 8 and 10 percent. However, he assured fretful local businessmen that nothing was certain until a team from the bank’s private sector division visited Cameroon in the near future to educate aspirants on eligibility contours and the nature of projects to be financed by the Japanese aid. He lauded the Japanese government’s efforts in supporting development in Africa and Cameroon in particular, where many banks only grant short-term loans at exorbitant interest rates.
Meantime, a 12-man Japanese trade and investment delegation, led by Hideki Oyama spent three days in Cameroon scanning investment avenues in the country under the aegis of the Chamber of Commerce. In an exchange session with their Cameroonian counterparts, they complained that information on investment opportunities in Cameroon and news of the evolution of the country’s business climate was hard to come by. Flanked by the Japanese Ambassdor to Cameroon , Kensuke Tsuzuki, the delegation leader warned that concrete projects could not be expected immediately after their mission.
“But this is a first step for Japanese investment in Cameroon ,” he said. It was the first time ever for Japanese private sector investors to hold direct exchanges with their Cameroonian counterparts who raised the need for joint ventures between both sides to enable Cameroon emerge from its position as a raw materials exporter to that of finished goods supplier. The Japanese showed investment interest in the areas of transportation and road construction, tourism, timber, energy, minerals and oil, textiles, energy, inter alia.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

African migrants contribute 90bn to Franc Zone economy annually

Finance experts of the Franc Zone have said that the amount of money repatriated into the region by citizens of these countries living abroad is significant and boosts the local economies.

Meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon on the hills of the meeting of ministers of finance of Franc Zone countries the experts revealed that over 90 billion FCFA was being sent into the zone annually by emigrants. This amount, they said, provided an important booster to the economy especially in terms of investment and development of the small and medium-size enterprises sector. They used the forum to deliberate on some salient macro-economic policy issues concerning the Franc Zone.
The savings of these migrants according to the experts were enormous and resolved that mechanisms should be put in place to get the Diaspora to mobilise these funds for development and investment in their home countries.
They suggested that one of such mechanisms could be to institute and implement economic policies that would render the zone investment friendly.
Another issue discussed at the meeting was the need to get France, as a master, to put in more development aid into the zone. The finance ministers also examined the increasingly disturbing issue of energy crisis and its effects on the economies of Franc Zone countries, food shortage and the consequent hike in prices as well as its effects on public finance, economic and monetary cooperation, among other things.
Participants at the meeting came from Gabon, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo and the Comoros.

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Cameroon gov't. steps up efforts to tackle Malaria

By Yemti Harry Ndienla

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite, Plasmodium, which infects red blood cells. Malaria is characterized by cycles of chills, fever, pain and sweating. Historical records suggest malaria has infected humans since the beginning of mankind. The name "mal 'aria" (meaning "bad air" in Italian) was first used in English in 1740 by H. Walpole when describing the disease. The term was shortened to "malaria" in the 20th century. C. Laveran in 1880 was the first to identify the parasites in human blood. In 1889, R. Ross discovered that mosquitoes transmitted malaria. Of the four species of malaria, the most serious type is Plasmodium falciparum malaria. It can be life-threatening.

The life cycle of the parasite is complicated and involves two hosts, humans and Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease is transmitted to humans when an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person and injects the malaria parasites (sporozoites) into the blood. Sporozoites travel through the bloodstream to the liver, mature, and eventually infect the human red blood cells. While in red blood cells, the parasites again develop until a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected human and ingests human red blood cells containing the parasites. Then the parasites reach the Anopheles mosquito's stomach and eventually invade the mosquito salivary glands. When an Anopheles mosquito bites a human, these sporozoites complete and repeat the complex Plasmodium life cycle.

Malaria is a particular problem and a major one in areas of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Unless precautions are taken, anyone living in or traveling to a country where malaria is present can get the disease. Malaria occurs in about 100 countries; approximately 40% of the world population is at risk for contracting malaria.

According to WHO report, Malaria causes an average loss of 1.3% annual economic growth in countries with intense transmission. When compounded over the years, this loss has lead to substantial differences in GDP between countries with and without malaria. Malaria traps families and communities in a downward spiral of poverty, disproportionately affecting marginalized populations and poor people who cannot afford treatment or who have limited access to health care. Malaria’s direct costs include a combination of personal and public expenditures on both prevention and treatment of disease. In some countries with a very heavy malaria burden, the disease may account for as much as 40% of public health expenditure, 30-50% of inpatient admissions and up to 60% of outpatient visits. Malaria has lifelong effects through increased poverty, impaired learning and decreases attendance in schools and the workplace.

In Cameroon where malaria is coursing serious havoc the Ministry of Public Health has recently announced the availability of two new drugs believed to be capable of treating the killer disease easily and at a relatively low cost.

The country's Minister of public health Andre Mama Fouda, sounded confident that the new combinations of Artesunate and Amodiaquine or Artemether and Lumefantrine were very effective and capable of completely eradicating malaria in the country by 2010.
The medicines, he added, are available at a very low cost in all the pro-pharmacies in the country as a combination of Artesunate and Amodiaquine costs only 400 FCFA while that of Artemether and Lumefantrine costs at most 1000FCFA.
According to the minister, the new combinations make the treatment of malaria easy even at home.
To further eradicate the disease from the country, the minister made it clear that government, through the national committee for the fight against malaria, has trained about 15,550 community health workers across the country to sensitise the populations, identify cases and make sure that treatment is made affordable to those who badly need it.
While regretting that pregnant women and children below the age of five were the most vulnerable, minister Fouda, recommended a clean living environment, the proper use of insecticide-treated bed nets and regular medical check-ups as efforts that could help to prevent the deadly disease.
Despite the availability of these drugs, majority of Cameroonians depended on herbalists for treatment because they cannot afford to go to the hospital though government promised that about 80 percent of serious patients would effectively be diagnosed and given immediate treatment and follow up.
Medics have classified malaria into two types – the simple one that comes with increased temperature, constant headache, excess cold, severe pains, vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhea and the complex one that comes with very high temperatures, agitation, loss of memory, convulsion, white urine, extreme weakness, difficulties in breathing, etc.

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