Cameroon: the fight against the coronavirus revives the war chiefs

Cameroun: la lutte contre le coronavirus ravive la guerre des chefs

YAOUNDE | The fight against the coronavirus has been revived in Cameroon war leaders began in the ballot box, there has been almost two years, between the indéboulonnable Paul Biya and his main opponent, Maurice Kamto, who proclaimed himself “elected president”.

The pandemic has not been conducive to truce policy, as in other countries of the continent. Even as Cameroon, with more than 5,300 contamination at the COVID-19 officially and nearly 180 deaths at the end of may, is one of the most affected countries in sub-saharan Africa.

On the contrary, the confrontation between the power of Mr. Biya and the ruling party, He hardens, “each instrumentalising the fight against the epidemic”, stressed to AFP political scientist in cameroon Sévérin Tchokonte.

Led for 37 years by president Biya, Cameroon is stuck in a political crisis since the election in October 2018, the head of the State today, aged 87 years.

His victory is still disputed by Mr. Kamto, his challenger, had launched peaceful protests after the election before being jailed for nine months and then released under international pressure.

Pretty wiped since his release from prison in October, he seems to have taken the hair of the beast since the beginning of the epidemic in Cameroon in mid-march. Helped unintentionally by a head of State strangely absent who has waited for more than two months before speaking publicly on television on the coronavirus.

At the end of march, He throws him an ultimatum, demanding that it address to Cameroonians before seven days. “In the current context of a grave danger for the Nation, his silence is not only irresponsible, it becomes criminal” tackle the opponent.

Three weeks later, he even announces it has started a process to declare the vacancy of power. In the aftermath, He launches an operation called Survival-Cameroon Survival Initiative (SCSI) collection of funds for the fight against the sars coronavirus.

This “has caused a wince to the government, which saw in it the assertion of the failure of the system of national response,” said Mr. Tchokonte.

Because the management of the crisis by Yaounde is beset critics.

“Settle accounts”

Therefore, the regime does all to prevent the initiative. Since the beginning of may, a dozen volunteers of SCSI have been arrested because they were distributing, “illegally” according to the police, of masks and of the hydroalcoholic gel.

The power had already prevented the collection of funds described as”illegal” by ordering at the end of April the mobile operator to close the accounts receivers of the gifts. And the judicial police opened an investigation for “money laundering” involving two close friends of Mr. Kamto responsible for SCSI.

“The ruling party in Cameroon is using the pandemic to settle scores and punish the opposition,” denounces then the international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The Movement for the renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) Mr. Kamto’s “leads actions confused that put him in the trap of politicization” of the fight against the coronavirus, ” argues an official from the ruling party, the democratic Rally of the cameroonian people (the DPRK), Jean Baptist Atemengue.

“The one who has built his illegitimacy, it is Mr. Biya, himself,” retorted Olivier Bibou Nissack, a spokesman for Mr. Kamto, is offensive to the “criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to persons in danger”.

According to Mr. Tchokonte, the initiative SCSI He “is not neutral since it necessarily takes place in a context of crisis” post-election.

For the political scientist, “the survival or the continuity of the scheme depends on its ability to control or neutralize the MRC: this is the reason why, each time that the MRC takes an initiative, systematically, the government reacts”.

“Sacred Union”

Other opposition parties have launched actions against the coronavirus, without being targeted by the power.

After more than two months of silence, Paul Biya was finally sent to his people in a televised speech on 19 may, calling for the”sacred union” in the face of coronavirus.

At the same time, He was speaking to him, also facing the camera directly on his page Facebook, to denounce “the attacks barbaric and repeated the plan in place” against the initiative.

In the coming weeks, “it is difficult to make the bet of a lull,” said Mr. Tchokonte.

At a time when the Cameroon, “go into a phase complicated of the pandemic”, according to the words of the minister of Health Malachi Manaouda, the government has decided to ease the restrictive measures on the closure of the borders, restaurants, and bars, and schools must also reopen Monday.

These decisions are already cringe a portion of the public opinion and the opposition, He was denouncing “a management catastrophic” to the crisis.

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