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General News of Friday, 12 December 2014

Source: Cameroon Journal

I’m no longer ready to lead street protests, “I have done my best” - Fru Ndi

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John Fru Ndi, SDF national chairman has said that he is not ready to lead street protest against the anti-terrorism law recently adopted in parliament and pending promulgation into law by the head of state.

Fru Ndi was speaking at a press conference at the party’s Centre region Secretariat in Yaounde yesterday December 11. It was a forum for the SDF chieftain to present the standpoint of the party on the controversial bill.

Though he took issues with the bill, he stated in clear terms that he is no longer willing to lead any street protest in the country.

“I have done my best. If citizens feel disgruntled with the regime, they should lead a protest march and I will support them.” He said. He also added that recent revolutions in other countries were not led by political leaders and urged Cameroonians to take their destiny in their hands.

“We have fought so hard to change things in parliament, but failed. It was incumbent for me to inform the public of the struggles of our MPs in parliament. But when we tell them we have tried to no avail, they took it as a mockery to say that the SDF has failed to effect change. You journalists, when you have a problem; maybe this law that infringes on your rights, lead the protests and I will join you” he stated.

Responding to a question from a reporter who said that new leaders such as Maurice Kamto, Kah Wallah, Bernard Njonga and others are willing to take to the streets but do not have the heart, Fru Ndi said “those who believe I led protest because I had obtained some magical powers for protection, should also go to where they think I went and get it. I have been shot and poisoned, but here I am. Let them lead and I will follow.”

Talking about the bill, which he said he had previously warned Biya through the media not to promulgate, he said that it is ridiculous for anyone to believe that death penalty is an efficient instrument for political repression. To him the death penalty which the law prescribes for terrorists is unjust, inefficient, and counter-productive and makes a mockery of the hard earned democratic advances that have been obtained at the cost of blood and life.

“By blocking all the means by which a truly inclusive democracy with strong institutions and good laws can be put in place in order to ensure a smooth transition in our country, as well as national unity, peace and prosperity, they have ensured that they hold the progress of the country hostage in the interest of one man,” he said.

Fru Ndi used a February 2008 case where some citizens jailed protested, to buttress his arguments. He said that if the law had been promulgated before that 2008 hunger strike, all 2,800 citizens who were jailed for demonstrating would have been sentenced to death.

He argued that though the Biya regime is trying to make the bill look as though it is targeting Boko Harm terrorists, it is in reality, setting the scene for electoral coup and to avoid what happened in Burkina Faso.

“It is counterproductive to think that liberties must be stifled to battle terrorism. On the contrary, the absence of this is the root cause of terrorism in its most dangerous form.” Fru Ndi stated.

Going by the SDF chieftain, the Biya regime invited Boko Haram into Cameroon by setting an enabling ground for them. “What is happening in the far north today is as a result of government’s neglect of the region to disease, epidemics, flooding, illiteracy, malnutrition, hunger, cholera, lack of basic health, water and sanitation, abject poverty and total abandonment.” He said; adding that regime officials only visit the region when it is time for political campaigns and leaves the youth vulnerable to Boko Haram recruitments which helps them to attack their own country for as low as 15,000FCFA stipends per month.

Fru Ndi also criticised the Emergency plan that Biya recently presented at the ministerial council meeting of Tuesday December 9, for not being part of the budget. He said it is an indication that the government is confused and out of its development plans and strategies. He made it known that his party is ready for inclusive dialogue, but not ready to join the government.

SDF parliamentarian and national assembly vice speaker, Joseph Mbah Ndam who had earlier stated in the press that the new bill does not hinder freedoms, co-chaired the press conference with Fru Ndi.

Mbah Ndam had in a previous briefing said that the bill is not bad, asking Cameroonians whether they were cowards.

Renowned US-based Cameroonian journalist, Boh Herbert, has taken Mbah Ndam to task for not being explicit with his ascription of the word cowards to Cameroonians.

Quite in a sharp contrast with party chairman John Fru Ndi, Mbah Ndam had stated vehemently that ‘the anti-terrorism law does not stop civil disobedience, it does not stop strikes … Yes, the law does not stop these activities. It merely criminalizes these activities; making anyone participating in them likely to be accused of terrorism, punishable by death.

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