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Weekend Debates: Differing Opinions On National Sovereignty

Panellists of the radio debate programme last Saturday February 21, 2015, agreed on several issues that touched on national sovereignty.

When the programme kicked started at 10a.m on Frequency Modulation (FM) 90.5 Radio Tiemenou Siantou (RTS), expectations were high on the heated debate that was to ensue thereafter following the introduction of the topics by the presenter, Eric Boniface Tchouakeu and given the diverse backgrounds of the panellists.

COPAX Summit

The first topic on the programme, “Policam” that was introduced centred on the just-ended extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS in Yaounde. The presenter asked whether the summit that sought to mobilise and adopt a common strategy to combat Boko Haram insurgents was a diplomatic victory as the government claims. While political analysts Stephane Akoa, Simon Bila of the UPC party and former Minister of Labour and Social Security as well as Jean Baptist Atemengue held that the Yaounde summit was a political triumph for Cameroon as more international attention is now focused on the fight against Boko Haram after the Head of State’s call Jean Takougang, SDF’s Shadow Minister for Education and Training had a contrary view. To him, the said diplomacy is characterised by hypocrisy. He accused France for having destabilization plans and at the same time assuring military intelligence. Jean Baptist Atemengue argued that it is not the government to say it was a diplomatic victory but that the facts are glaring for Cameroonians to see for themselves. France, he added, also played a pivotal diplomatic role as it initiated the Paris Summit of May 17, 2014 which set the tone for the international mobilisation.

Civil March

The next topic that came under scanner was on the civil march in support of the defence forces organised by different bodies across the nation. The presenter asked whether it is polemics for personal gains. The panellists were unanimous on this issue though with varied degree of acceptance. The SDF Shadow Minister said supporting the Army is a way for protecting one’s life because the soldiers are at the war front sacrificing their own lives to safe ours. He however cited cases during which supporters of the ruling party have organised public marches to support their National President but wondered why the CPDM has not organised any of such march to support the defence forces. Each citizen, he advised, is a soldier in his or her domain and must put in whatever in his own field to defend the fatherland. Jean Baptist Atemengue though corroborated Jean Takougang on support march, differed with him that the CPDM has not organised any much to support the defence forces. He cited the march organised in Monatele by the Lekie elite which unfortunately has fanned leader conflict between two elites of the area who are members of government. Meanwhile, Simon Bila sees the march as mere rhetoric challenging Cameroonians to go to the field and support refugees. He also stated that the 36,000 young Cameroonians vying for recruitment into the National Police Force as having the zeal to defend their fatherland.

However, while Stephane Akoa criticised the mobilisation on the streets in the name of march, pointing accusing fingers for some vicious minded Cameroonians who only want to line their pockets, the political analyst cited examples of France where the whole world came out during the Charlie Hebdo attack and how Niger declared a national day of mourning for some seven people who were accidently killed by a Nigerian airstrike. Jean Baptists Atemengue described this as lack of solidarity while Jean Takougang described it as “forced patriotism”. To him, the French President took the lead in the march in France but wondered why Paul Biya is not taking the lead in public march. He questioned how people can stand behind someone who is behind stating that President Biya should show the example.

Management of Political Parties

The final topic for debate was on the management of political parties given the resignation of the Secretary General of the SDF party, Prof. Elizabeth Tamajong. Stephan Akoa noted that many political parties in the country have internal management problems and lack democratic values as some times decisions are unilaterally taken. On his part, the SDF Shadow cabinet Minister, Jean Takougang argued that if the Secretary General is elected in the same list that elects the Chairman, there is the risk of fracture in the party as the scribe would not submit to the boss as oppose to when he/she is appointed by the Chairman.

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