Saturday, May 17, 2008

A question of democracy in the twenty first century?

What is democracy? The example we have witnessed in Cameroun defies all definition of the word. It is clear that the people of this country do not know, nor do they understand the meaning of democracy, or the power it gives to the people. This is not their fault. They have not been educated to understand its meaning and for a purpose. People are kept in servitude when they have no voice. Cameroun is a Republic with a multi-party democratic electoral system instituted in 1990 and guaranteed by its Constitution(s) of 1996 and the newest iteration, 2008.

How can a President agree to and sign into law, a Constitution which defines the length of his term (seven years), as well as the term limits (two contiguous terms) and then three years prior to the designated end of both terms, modify and amend it to allow him for all intents and purposes to be “a President for life"?

Let’s call a spade a spade. This is just another example of the rights of the people being dismissed by the whim of one man who has the power to do so. In modern terms this is what we call a dictatorship; although cleverly disguised as a democratic Republic today, in 2008. What’s a Constitution for anyway, if we can’t change it willy nilly whenever we want to and for whatever purpose serves to keep the status quo in the halls of power? I was taught that the Constitution in the United States at least was written to preserve the ‘inalienable rights’ of each citizen as granted by God; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t it the same for Camerounians or was our Constitution written for a different purpose?

President Biya has been successful in protecting his position at the expense of the eighteen million Camerounians who continue to suffer under a government which does scant nothing for its citizens. And in the event of the “impossible” and no longer President, the latest amendment as signed in April, 2008 guarantees that he can not be brought to trial nor be judged for his crimes. Ya can’t beat that now can you?

It is the citizens of this country who bear the brunt of a system, inherited from their grandparents a mere forty years ago, which promised revolutionary change at their independence in 1960, but which has only served to keep the wealthy few as the ‘power elite’. The rest of the nation barely eek out a living and have enough money to feed themselves and their families despite the vast wealth in this country’s natural resources. Cameroun is not a poor country.

And, doesn’t there have to be ‘opposition political parties’ in order to have a multi-party system? Where are they? In a country that has 200+ registered political parties, why are we not hearing the voice of the people expressed through these political bodies? Where are their leaders and more importantly, what are the issues they are seeking to address? On what platform do they stand?

Politics in this country has become nothing more than a debate between the personalities of a few who seek to enrich themselves when offered Ministerial positions in exchange for the votes of their constituents. Sad but true and is about to change.

Moses, used as God’s instrument, said to the Pharaoh of Egypt, “Let my people go” . Throughout history, the oppressed have ultimately had their voices heard. We will see the same in Cameroun, for if we believe there is a just God, we must also believe that the voices of those suffering in this country will too, one day be heard. It is for this reason, and this reason alone Antoine and I are in Cameroun today.

God Bless Cameroun. God Bless Africa.

Anita Lynne NDEMMANU