Today has been a momentous day for our country. We have seen thousands of Cameroonians expressing their frustration with the country to the point of demanding to leave our union. No Cameroonian can be indifferent.
I want to start by expressing the heartfelt sympathy of the Cameroon People’s Party to victims of this crisis. Families have lost their loved ones; activists and members of the armed forces have been wounded. The CPP empathizes with you.
To those who were protesting today, the Cameroon People’s Party recognizes your right to your opinion on the future of our country and appreciates that for the most part, you have expressed this right non-violently over the past ten months.
The CPP however, firmly condemns those who have chosen to express themselves using violence. You can not endanger the lives of those whose rights you say you are fighting for. You cannot threaten and use fear to coerce people to act. By doing this you violate principles of freedom and justice. You violate the law. Every citizen of Cameroon has the right to protest. We encourage those who have been doing so non-violently. They should continue in this very effective way of exercising their rights.
To the forces of law and order, the CPP recognizes the challenge of maintaining order in this moment of extremely high tensions. We want to acknowledge the majority who of you have done your job professionally, ensuring security while respecting the fundamental liberties of the citizens you protect.
The CPP must however emphasize that violence, abuse, injustice and illegality by state forces have been significantly present in this crisis. They have played a fundamental role in pushing many of our compatriots to the point where, today, they want to leave Cameroon. This is unacceptable.
The CPP reminds all our armed forces that you are at the service of the nation and the nation is its people. Every citizen of Cameroon has the right to safety, security, dignity and the respect of fundamental liberties. It is your job to provide this. When you fail at this job, for even a few citizens, you put the nation in jeopardy, as it is today. It is in times of tension that the fundamental principles and values of a nation are determined. The CPP implores you to stand by your code: honor and loyalty to the nation and its people. Our collective future depends on it.
To the Head of State, Mr. Paul Biya. The events of today are the direct result of the catastrophic management of this crisis by you and your regime. Despite the calls of almost every political, religious and civil society actor you have acted with callousness and without patriotism. You have:
· Refused to initiate sincere, in-depth dialogue to address the fundamental issues raised by citizens. You have added injury to the insult of 57 years of discrimination, 34 of which were under your governance.
· Used the violence of the state to arrest arbitrarily and illegally, to physically and mentally abuse those in detention, to create an atmosphere of fear and distrust.
· Used your own power to abandon charges against detainees unfairly. You liberated some and kept others unjustly in jail, directly leading to the tension that contributed to the events of today.
· Refused to involve yourself personally in solving the crisis; treating your citizens with disregard and disdain.
For the CPP, this is not new. We have watched you mismanage the Fight Against Boko Haram, the Eseka Catastrophe, the Monique Koumatekel Affair, not to speak of basic services for Cameroonians: water, electricity, roads, schools, etc. We have watched you mismanage our resources, put our lives in danger, extinguish all hope in the future for our children and today, put the very existence of our country in jeopardy.
It has been 34 years, Mr. Biya and you and your regime have failed.
Today that failure is causing thousands of Cameroonians to want to leave our nation. Mr. Biya, we cannot allow this to happen. On the 26th of July, the CPP wrote to you with clear suggestions for solving key problems in the country, including the Anglophone crisis. We informed you that the deadline for action was 2-3 weeks, beyond which these crises would become perilous for our nation. You neither listened nor acted. Today it is the very fiber of Cameroon which is at stake.
Faced with this situation, we, the Cameroon People’s Party, call on all Cameroonians who believe in the future of our country, all Cameroonians who believe that while we came into this union from different backgrounds and while we have a complex history, we share common principles, values and a diverse, but common culture. All Cameroonians who believe that our future is together as one nation, we call on you now to ACT!
If you do not act we will lose our brothers and sisters. If you do not act, we will enter a prolonged and complicated conflict, where there will be no winners. If you do not act, Cameroon as we know it may cease to exist. Act for what?
Act to rebuild the very foundation of our nation. Cameroon is a nation of crises because the very foundation of our country is rotten. To solve the Anglophone crisis, the Boko Haram Crisis, the education crisis and the health crisis, to solve the crisis of governance in this beloved country of ours we must go to the very core, take out the rot and rebuild.
We can only do this if Anglophone and Francophone, northerner and easterner, westerner and southerner come together and act, without violence, but with determination to undergo political transition for our country.
What does political transition mean?
· It means Mr. Biya and his regime must step aside.
· It means we must put in place Transition Government of neutral and representative people who will lead us to through the transition.
· It means we must hold a national dialogue on the very character of our nation, our history, our identity as Anglophones and Francophones, our identity as Africans, the relationship between the government and its citizens, the form of the state. All the fundamental issues we are facing must be debated.
· This national dialogue must include all. Cameroonians each corner of our country. Anglophones and Francophones. Those who believe in a unitary state, those who believe in federation and those who want two independent states. We must hear all perspectives, debate and discuss, then decide on our future together.
· Political Transition means based on our national dialogue, we rewrite a new constitution, reform our key institutions of justice, legislature and government.
· It means we reform the electoral system to correspond to the new nature and form of our state
· Political Transition means we then hold elections to elect new officials who reflect the nation we have reestablished.
It is the firm belief of the Cameroon People’s Party that most of us, want to live together as a nation. It is our firm belief that we share principles of justice, equity, shared wealth and prosperity. It is the belief of the CPP that the majority of us, Francophone and Anglophone want to live in a country where every single citizen’s history and rights are respected. Where every citizen will be educated, served justice, and receive basic services in a language and in a system that he or she deserves. The CPP firmly believes that we have the possibility and the ability to build this nation.
We ask you today, to stand. Stand Up For Cameroon. Act now for Cameroon. Build here for Cameroon.
History will ask each of us just one question. “What did you do?” Fellow Cameroonian, what, will be your answer?
Kah Walla, National Chairperson