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Cameroon: Threats and insecurity accelerate as 2011 election approaches

There are mounting threats and insecurity in Cameroon ahead of the 2011 presidential elections. President Paul Biya, already in power for more than 27 years, modified the constitution in 2008 to enable him stand re-election.

The threats gathered more steam  when Bertrand Teyou, author of the book Ante code Biya: Inside a country without a head was arrested in Douala early March. Cameroon’s economic capital as he launched his book early March. Previous launching had earlier come under serious disturbances from government agents and soldiers in 2009. The book was in reaction an ill informed and ill-conceived publication on Cameroon and Cameroonians written by commissioned French man, François Mattei and titled The Biya Code.

Teyou was arrested on grounds that he said “if Biya does not leave in 2011, we would do out best”  interpreted by government as a threat to the president’s life and against peace in Cameroon.   The arrest has been widely condemned by liberation movements and proponents of freedom of expression. It brings to light the continuous threats facing Cameroonians as countdown to the 2011 presidential election narrows.

In a document sent to Cameroon senior government officials on March 11, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists noted with regrets that earlier on February 26, 2010  three journalists; Harry Robert Mintya of the weekly Le Devoir, Bibi Ngota of Cameroon Express and Serge Bobouang of La Nation were arrested and are now languishing in   jail, awaiting  trial after they published a document in which the Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic Laurent Esso is said to have urged the manager of the country’s hydro carbon corporation (SNH)  to pay some commission worth FCFA1. 3 billion ($3 million) for the purchase of a ship.  The journalists have been arrested on grounds that they forged the document. They risk 15 years in jail.

Mr Joel Simon, Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists also condemned the arrests and horrible beating and injuries inflicted on Simon Herve Nko’o of the weekly Bebela  because he refused to release the source of information he had published. Several other journalists are under threats, according to the document.

It would be recalled that three Cameroonian journalists and a university don are also under trial for commenting during live television program about  corruption in Cameroon and precisely on the purchase of the fake presidential plan The Albatross. It is becoming a taboo in Cameroon to discuss about the skyrocketing rate of corruption and impunity involving senior government officials.

Early February 2010, Cameroonians were prevented from commemorating the killing of over 200 people in February 2008 after a strike provoked by rising cost of living.  The organiser of the commemorative event opposition MP Jean Mitchel Nintcheu,  has promised to organise the event in 2011 even if it means receiving live bullets from the forces of law and order as they did to the hundred of youths in 2008. According to the government, 40 people were killed but civil society organisations claim over 200 were killed.

Three Cameroonians earlier this month deposited a complaint at the Secretariat of the UN urging an investigation of the crimes against humanity committed by the Biya government.

 Last year, a teacher was arrested and spent several months in prison because he expressed disgust with the intermittent roads blocks each time the president is leaving or entering the capital city. According to him it was better that more roads be constructed to avoid such traffic headache during Biya’s movements. He also reiterated the need for the president to use a jet to go to his palace. His comments were taken as an offense and he was arrested and jailed.

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