Opposition activists across Cameron are demonstrating against what they describe as President Paul Biya’s dictatorial tendencies. Their latest complaint was voiced after Biya announced he was going to remove term limits in the constitution, saying his supporters are urging him to continue his rule after his second seven-year term expires. Political observers say Biya’s plans to amend the constitution, coupled with ever-increasing fuel prices, are the driving force behind the protests. Biya’s government is blaming the opposition for the demonstrations, which have resulted in casualties and a loss of property.
From the capital, Yaoundé, the leader of Cameroon’s main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party John Fru Ndi tells reporter Peter Clottey that Biya’s government is insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Cameroonian.
“The unfortunate thing about the Cameroon government is that when there are issues, they never investigate the issues to address them, they always look for a scapegoat. Students go on strike in the universities because there is no water; they (government) say they are being instigated and masterminded by the opposition. The taxi drivers, the motorcycle drivers went on strike because Mr. Biya used the African games cunningly to increase fuel by 15 francs. Meanwhile, fuel has been increased last year by four times, but Cameroonians just kept quiet. And then he increased again and then they went into the street and said he should reduce the cost of fuel and he refused,” Fru Ndi said.
He said the government’s insensitivity to the plight of Cameroonians is fueling anger.
“The strikers say that was an insult on their faces. His minister came to the air and said, Fru Ndi said that there should be violence, distraction of properties and killings. I have not said that. Who is violent in the first place? It is his troops that he sends out that are violent and are killing,” he noted.
Fru Ndi concurs that President Biya’s plan to amend the constitution is a significant factor in the ongoing protests.
“That is true because the constitutional issue affects all Cameroonians and even with people from his own political party. So the Cameroonians are not happy about that and the fuel issue only came to add on the anger on the people who have started demonstrating on the constitutional issue,” Fru Ndi said.
He accused President Biya of taking unilateral action to amend the constitution.
“Now, Mr. Biya had flawed monolithic constitution, and the SDF proposed a constitutional conference. But this he refused. Now he wants to use the change of article six, which gives him another mandate, to now review the constitution, for which Cameroonians are saying no,” he pointed out.