27/09/2010 03:44:06
Obama's Message to Dictators: A Direct Appeal to Paul Biya
President Obama's Message to Dictators: A Direct Appeal to Paul Biya to Reverse his Authoritarian Tendencies in Cameroon. He called on developing nations like Cameroon to "... root out corruption which is an obstacle to progress" because "opportunities cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and businesses have to pay bribes"
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PICAM applauds President Barack Obama's unwavering message on democracy to the world's dictators. President Obama's message came on September 23, 2010 during his address to the 65th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the world's largest intergovernmental organization. Among the various themes of his speech, President Obama dwell on civil liberties, democracy, human rights, and good governance, while forcefully denouncing dictators of the world. Cameroonians are well acquainted to tyranny and the speech of President Obama was an added impetus to the persistent calls by the Cameroonian civil society for the respect of human rights and democratic principles in Cameroon. PICAM hopes that President Paul Biya paid special attention to this direct call to reverse his authoritarian tendencies towards which he has led the country for the past 28 years.

The situation of human rights and democracy in the Republic of Cameroon is extremely relevant  both to the citizenry of Cameroon and the international community. As a party to several international human rights conventions, the Government of Cameroon and its leader, Paul Biya, are obligated to respect and protect the basic rights outlined in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its ensuing conventions. These basic rights include freedom of speech, opinion, and political preference and the rights associated with fair judicial practices. Despite the Republic of Cameroon's ostensible commitment to these principles, the regime of President Biya has repeatedly disregarded and violated the rights of its people.

As President Obama noted, Governments must answer to their people and "history is on the side of liberty". He called on developing nations like Cameroon to "... root out corruption which is an obstacle to progress" because "opportunities cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and businesses have to pay bribes". The state of artificial democracy and serious human rights violations in Cameroon are directly related and dependent on one another. Unless the nature of democracy in the country changes to an authentic people-powered political movement, the human rights of marginalized groups and everyday citizens will not improve. In principle, Cameroon has been a multi-party system since 1990. In actuality, the President has a monopoly over all government affairs with overwhelming control of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

In Cameroon, the President appoints all Ministers who assume functions without any sort of oversight. The President also appoints all the nation's administrators including Governors of the Regions, Senior Divisional Officers, Divisional Officers, and District Officers. This creates a condition for bias as all administrative decisions are subject to the political influence of the President, while ordinary citizens are denied the opportunities to express their views. The President equally appoints and controls all Directors, Commissioners, and Commanders of the Police, Gendarme, and the Military and uses these security forces to oppress political opponents, government critics, and ordinary Cameroonians. In the same light, the President appoints all prosecutors, judges, and other officers of the judiciary. He equally guarantees the independence of the judiciary, and as we have seen in Cameroon, this means that the government is given a free ride to trample over the rights of its citizens as judicial recourse in situations of human rights violations is almost always nonexistent.

President Obama pointed out that "democracy and human rights are essential to achieving" good governance "because governments of the people and by the people are more likely to act in the broader interests of their own people, rather than the narrow interests of those in power". Most importantly, he emphasized that:
"the test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will no longer tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history".

President Obama also publicly denounced constitutional maneuvers that have led to the elimination or Presidential term limits. For Cameroonians, this is a direct reprimand to Paul Biya and the illegal constitutional move forced upon the People of Cameroon in April 2008. PICAM again state that the 2008 constitutional maneuver in Cameroon lacks the spirit of the very basis of the legitimacy of political power. PICAM is reiterating its solemn and unequivocal opposition to the 2008 constitutional amendment in Cameroon that was aimed at giving President Paul Biya the possibility of seeking endless terms as President. PICAM is also urging President Paul Biya to make it clear before all Cameroonians and the international community that he will not seek re-election at the end of his current and final term which ends in 2011.

Cameroon needs a legitimate government, not the military-backed autocracy currently being imposed on Cameroonians. The legitimacy of a government is determined by the process by which it comes into being and the work it does for its people. The current regime in Cameroon does not satisfy the test of legitimacy warranted of a government. PICAM is calling on Cameroonians around the world to stand-up and speak out for justice and a better future for Cameroon. PICAM is also calling on Cameroonians to become more proactive and engaging in the democratic future of their country.   Aloofness cannot get the country where it needs to be, and giving up is not an option. Cameroonians must denounce injustices when they occur and continue to work individually and collectively for a sustainable democracy in Cameroon.

A press release from Picam www.picam.org


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