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Interview: “For Now, I Cannot Claim That I Am Presidential Candidate”

Ayah Paul Abine, Chairman of the Popular Action Party (PAP), talks on future presidential polls in Cameroon and his party's level of preparedness.

Chairman, little has been heard about you on the political scene since you were appointed Advocate-General of the Supreme Court in December 2014. Did that appointment bar you from politics?

I can say with a certain degree of satisfaction that, of all the political leaders in Cameroon today, I am the most active on the Internet. I do a lot of write-ups and my Internet is very lively. Secondly, when I was appointed to the Supreme Court on December 18, 2014, I had gone for 17 months without salary. I am still expecting the money up to this moment.

Even as I am talking, I am not yet on my full salary. That has worked a lot of hardship against the PAP because when I pull out nothing from my pocket, PAP is virtually at a standstill. That notwithstanding, we have been doing the little we could without making a lot of noise.

Last March, a few PAP leaders held a press conference in Kumba to announce your dismissal from the party for several reasons. What is the situation right now?

It is a very laughable situation. Three people cannot expel even an ordinary member from a party, let alone the party head. Much less when the three people hold no prominent positions in the party as such! I know that, at the time Late Professor Ngoh registered People’s Action Party, a certain Ekambi Alphonse was the Secretary General. Shortly after the registration, Ekambi was dismissed by Ngoh himself on pecuniary contention. On the whole, PAP remained in the doldrums throughout.

May I avail myself of this occasion to reiterate just again that PAP was my brainchild. Retired John Ndane of Radio Buea and Ayah formed PAP in 1990. But as active civil servants at the time, we could not be at the forefront. PAP did not impact even in Kumba town really much until I resigned from the CPDM in 2010 and came in. When I offered to bring the party into the limelight, the Ngoh Family thought it was their property and so they would not allow me to take the registration certificate.

Did you also unilaterally transfer the headquarters from Kumba to Buea as they stated?

I was living in Buea and we had a working secretariat in Buea. Several parties have working secretariats at some place with the headquarters elsewhere. The allegation is simply malicious and merely facetious. I should like to mention in passing that we met in Buea on the 27th of February this year and decided to change the name of the party. We counselled ourselves that the word ‘People’ is less striking than ‘Popular’. And we duly notified the Governor having jurisdiction as well as the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation.    

What is the level of preparations at the PAP for upcoming 2018 Presidential elections?

The PAP Constitution is different from those of some other political parties. Our constitution does not provide that the head of the party is automatically the Presidential candidate. It rather provides that, when it is time for primaries, any member can present their candidacies. The competent organ of the party then elects the presidential candidate.

Logically, I cannot for now claim that I am the Presidential candidate. What is more, you may have heard that the opposition is trying to present a unique candidate. It will be forestalling discussions, dialogue and even negotiations if today I tell you that I am a Presidential candidate. We are waiting for the propitious moment!

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