Fomunyoh remind's African heads of state, there is life after state house.

Bamenda, Cameroun
The GuardianPost

The representative of NDI, for the African Region, Dr Fomunyoh has reminded African heads of state to be more responsible and accountable in their stewardship. "African heads of state must be reminded that there is life after the state house. With the wind of democracy blowing across Africa, dictatorial leadership hardly get away with it when they leave power. It is therefore in their interest to govern according to the wishes and aspirations of the people".

The representative of National Democratic Institute, NDI, for the African Region, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh has reminded African heads of state to be more responsible and accountable in their stewardship so as to live amicably and in peace when they leave power. Dr. Formunyoh dished out the advice while fielding a plethora of questions from journalists at a press conference organized at Mondial Hotel in Bamenda last Thursday.

As to whether there can ever be any free and fair elections in Cameroon, the US based diplomat said politics, especially electoral politics is a team sports and heads of state should ensure that political programmes relate to what the people want so that they shouldn't be victimized or witch hunted when they leave office.

"African heads of state must be reminded that there is life after the state house. With the wind of democracy blowing across Africa, dictatorial leadership hardly get away with it when they leave power. It is therefore in their interest to govern according to the wishes and aspirations of the people" he said. He added that African leaders should know when to exit. He quoted the examples of former Liberian heads of state, Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor who never accepted to leave power until power had to leave them.

On the other hand, he praised former Nigerian heads of state, General Yakubu Gowon and Babangida as well as Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania as examples of good African leaders who after leaving the state house, still leave and interact amicably with their people.

"General Gowon is involved in health care projects and has been doing a lot to help Nigerians. Babangida is very instrumental in building peace in several African countries," he added.

On whether it is possible to have free and fair elections in Cameroon, he said Cameroonians have no option but to ask for free and fair elections and to ask for it, Cameroonians must believe in it. He charged that any Cameroonians must believe in it. He charged that any Cameroonian refusing to register and vote is, in fact an accomplice in the promotion of autocracy in the country. He said Cameroon is a lovely country and Cameroonians should not lose hope because the darkest hour is at dawn.

Dr. Forminyoh told journalists and invited guests at the press conference that nobody believed President Ahmadou Ahidjo could ever leave power graciously or that the Berlin wall could ever be finally went down, he said, not with bombs or bullets, but with bear hands. He added that in places where people had lost hope, things happened.

On his position on the creation of an independent electoral commission, he said in a country where citizens doubt the executive, it is normal to create an independent commission because when the people lack confidence in a system, elections could be free and fair but the electorate will still not believe in the results. He quoted the case of Mexico where computers and sophisticated electoral machines were used but Mexicans still did not believe in the results. In Nigeria in 1998, he explained, and independent commission was put in place but was not financed and was poorly staffed which resulted in a bad election. In Senegal, the electorate used private radio stations and cell phones to ensure free and fair elections in 2000. Dr. Formunyoh recommended that the electoral system in Cameroon should be that whose election outcome will be acceptable to the overwhelming majority.

Asked whether there is an organisation in the diaspora prepared to put pressure on Biya to organise a better election, he said Cameroonians in the diaspora are interested and willing to contribute to the development of Cameroon but are barred from participating in the elections. Unlike in Niger, Benin and Mali where their citizens in the diaspora are recognised, the government of Cameroon does not want to galvanise the incentives to Cameroon. "Generally, Africans in the diaspora are not given the opportunity to put their expertise to use back on the continent. If the Cameroon government were to organise a one week voluntary service in Cameroon for its citizens in the diaspora, the impact will be great." He regretted that even though Cameroonians in the diaspora understand better how the world functions, the government is always reluctant to link to this disaporan network so that it can weigh positively on our development, and political growth.

On whether NDI will monitor the upcoming presidential elections in Cameroon, the diplomat revealed that his institution's recommendations to the Cameroon government after past elections in Cameroon have largely been ignored and so he doubted whether his partner will still be willing to monitor elections in Cameroon. He added that the absence of NDI should not act as deterrent to Cameroonians participating in the elections.

As to whether he believes in the existence of an Anglophone problem in Cameroon, and how Cameroon has suddenly become one and indivisible when two delegations attended the Foumban talks, Dr Formunyoh said there really exist an Anglophone problem because what is today referred to as "La Republique du Cameroun" is the Federal Republic minus Southern Cameroons. He said problems affecting the political marriage need to be addressed in order to solidify Anglophones who today feel cheated. But he regretted that no political platform enabling enough, exists for the debate on the Anglophone problem to be handled.

In apparent reference to the SCNC, he advised that legal arguments alone may not have an impact and that attempts at solving the problems should not be embedded in empty rhetoric.

The renowned Cameroonian diplomat evaded answering questions as to whether he intends to stand for the upcoming presidential election. The question was put to him several times, by different journalists noting that he has served Cameroon in several capacities and would not hesitate to serve them as head of state if they so wish.

The press conference was organised by Global Communication Consultancy and it brought together over forty media practitioners both from the public and private media.

 

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