News / Africa

Presidential Candidate Promises a New Cameroon if Elected

Paul Ayah says Cameroon has been stagnant under 29 years of president Paul Biyah's leadership

Shugaban Kamaru, Paul Biya
Shugaban Kamaru, Paul Biya

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James Butty

One of the candidates in this year’s Cameroon presidential election says if elected, he would push to decentralize government.

Paul Ayah, currently a member of Cameroon’s National Assembly, says if elected, he would only lead a five-year transitional government and would not seek re-election.

He said Cameroon has been stagnant under 29 years of President Paul Biyah’s leadership.

“In Cameroon today, there’s a lot of waste. Cameroon is highly centralized to the extent that a high percent of our national budget remains in the nation capital whereas the rest of the country is in abject poverty. We are endowed with a lot of human and natural resources. Our country should not be where we are whereby we push vehicles to the nearest town, the hospitals are empty; [and] the schools are empty,” he said.

Ayah said he has written a book entitled My Vision of a Born Again Cameroon to help him restart the country if he is elected in October.

He said part of his vision of a new Cameroon would include reducing the number of Cabinet positions from the current 64 to 20 and naming an equal number of men and women Cabinet ministers.

“I’m going to make a [new] map of Cameroon with 10 states, which is to say we are going to have a federation in Cameroon. Whereas we have about 64 ministers today in Cameroon, we are going to have a maximum of 20, and we’re going to be a unique country in the world where in the government there will be 10 women and 10 men; 12 ministries will be given to the youth and the adults will have only eight,” Ayah said.

Ayah said the new decentralized Cameroon under his leadership would promote mechanized agriculture, confine the soldiers to their barracks, and make everyone’s salary public as a way of fighting corruption.

Ayah said he will not boycott the November poll, unlike main opposition leader John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front party who has indicated he would boycott the election because of “irregularities”.

“Before entering parliament, I have been in the judiciary for upwards of 24 years. I am a lawyer and I’ll be the last man to go outside the legality to replace a government. We are in for an election; anybody preaching boycott to me is preaching defeatism. We have to fight within the law to change Cameroon, and that’s what I am in for,” Ayah said.

Opposition leader Fru Ndi has said that the November election will not be free and fair because the electoral commission is not independent.

Fru Ndi also said the top leadership of the electoral commission is made up of former members of the ruling Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People, a charge the party denies.

But Cameroon’s electoral board chairman Samuel Fonkam told VOA recently that opposition concerns that October’s general elections will be rigged are unfounded.

Fonkam said the electoral commission in Cameroon only applies the rules as they exist, not the rules as they ought to be,” Fonkam said.

Ayah said while the Cameroon electoral commission lacks independence, not participating in the coming election would amount to defeatism.

“It is true, very, very true that the Cameroon electoral commission is not independent. I’ve attacked it all around in the press, on the radio and television,” but not going in for election to me amounts to defeatism,” Ayah said.

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