Professor Kofele-Kale who is a leading scholar on the impact of corruption in developing countries and has been at the forefront of the growing movement to make corruption a human rights violation punishable under international law, has issued a statement explaining why he has taken up Marafa's case. Here is the statement in its entirety:
Internet at Liberty 2012: Promoting Progress and Freedom
Following the highly successful Internet at Liberty 2010, activists and experts from around the world will converge at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on May 23-24 to explore the most pressing dilemmas and exciting opportunities around free expression in the digital age.
The Internet as a global, free, and open resource, is constantly developing. Over the past year we have seen how the Internet can shift power, broaden scope, and accelerate political and economic change. Simultaneously, governments and multinational companies shape what is possible online. Today, more than any time in history, technological and political forces are colliding to draw lines about how the Internet functions.
In the last six months, three former high-ranking government officials currently in jail for a variety of financial crimes have published books about their prison experience. These books also explain their own version of events that landed them in jail, while casting a critical glance at the political system in which they once played pivotal roles. The courtyard of Kondengui Prison in Yaounde
Prominent among these unlikely authors are two former Secretary-Generals at the Presidency of the Republic, Atangana Mebara and Titus Edzoa, and Nguini Effa, the former Director General of Cameroon Petroleum Depot (SCDP).
The Mfoundi High Court this evening, May 3, 2012, found Mr. Atangana Mebara, former Secretary-General at the Presidency, not guilty of three of the five charges against him in the "Albatross Affair", the botched attempt to purchase a presidential aircraft for president Biya. Frontpage of tomorrow's Le Jour newspaper
The High Court found Mr. Mebara not guilty of the attempt to jointly embezzle $31 million with Kevin Walls, CEO of the London-based Airport Portfolio Management (APM), and Essomba Otele, head of APM’s Cameroon subsidiary, Asset Portfolio Management (APM).
Culled from Atangana Mebara, Jean-Marie. 2011. Lettres d'ailleurs: dévoilements préliminaires d'une prise de l'Epervier du Cameroun. Paris: Harmattan.
On August 1, 2008, Jean-Marie Atangana Mebara, former the Minister of Higher Education, former Secretary-General at the Presidency, and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, was remanded into custody for his role in the "Albatross Affair", the botched attempt to purchase an aircraft for President Biya. In December 2011, the Paris-based l’Harmattan published Mebara's book « Lettres d’ailleurs, Dévoilements préliminaires d’une prise de l’épervier du Cameroun ». (Letters from elsewhere: Preliminary revelations of a catch of the Cameroonian Sparrow hawk). Prefaced by Cardinal Tumi, the book consists of a series of letters to his family, friends, and public personalities. In one of the letters to his daughter, he goes at length into the circumstances of his arrest, including his first days behind bars at the Kondengui maximum security prison. Here is an excerpt:
“As a collective, [Nfongang’s articles] paint a compelling story of life in Cameroon's prison system.” Bibi Ngota Award jury.
Cameroonian journalist Charles Nfongang has won the first edition of the Bibi Ngota Award for Journalism against Impunity in Africa which comes with a $1000 cash prize. He was rewarded for a series of articles that he wrote on ‘Human rights in penitentiaries’, which were published in the Cameroonian newspaper, Ouest Fraternité. According to a statement from the jury, these articles stood out “because as a collective, they paint a compelling story of life in Cameroon's prison system.”
Even though it was not completely unexpected, the arrest of Chief Inoni Ephraim, former Prime Minister and Head of Government, and Hamidou Marafa Yaya, former Minister of State in Charge of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, is a bombshell that is still reverberating across the Cameroonian political landscape. According to reports by the State-owned CRTV, both men had showed up at the offices of investigative judge Pascal Magnaguemabe for what was expected to be a routine encounter, but were instead bundled off to the Kondengui Maximum security prison in the latest chapter of the decade-long probe into the Albatross Affair, or the botched attempt to purchase a brand new aircraft for President Biya – a dizzying fall from grace of two “golden boys” of the Biya regime who were once considered (particularly in the case of Marafa) potential heirs to the octogenarian Paul Biya.
In a Febraury 2007 cable from the US embassy in Yaounde which profiled "possible successors to President Biya" the then Prime Minister of the Republic, Ephraim Inoni, and the then Minister of State for Territorial Administration, Hamidou Marafa, were classfied under the category of "clean, competent and well-positioned" individuals with a shot at succeeding President Biya. Today, both men are behind bars, accused of embezzlement of state funds in the Albatross saga.
With the benefit of hindsight, let's read what US ambassador Niels Marquardt thought of both men.
“What this award commemorates is not Bibi Ngota the person, with numerous professional and personal flaws, but the Bibi Ngota, who became, in spite of himself and at the cost of his life, the symbol of the arbitrary detention, harassment and physical abuse of journalists in Cameroon.”
On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor in the town of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire to protest harassment by the police who had confiscated his vegetable cart. He died a few weeks later on January 4, 2011. Mohamed Bouazizi was neither a politician nor an activist; his was a personal protest against harassment with made it difficult for him to take care of his family. Bouazizi never set out to save Tunisia. In fact, all he dreamed of, according to a Time magazine profile, was to save enough money to be able to rent or buy a pickup truck. As Larbi Sadiki writes:
Or how the parliamentary opposition shot itself in the foot in 1992...
By Dibussi Tande
The Republic of Senegal has a new president following run-off elections which resulted in the defeat of outgoing President Abdoulaye Wade by Macky Sall, his one-time protégé and former Prime Minister. One of the main reasons for Macky's victory is Senegal’s two-round electoral system, which calls for a second round of voting if no candidate obtains more that 50% of votes cast. This is unlike countries such as Cameroon which have a one-round/first-past-the-post electoral system. In 1992, Cameroon's National Assembly failed to vote on a motion instituting the 2-round system.
In the first round of voting, President Wade obtained 34.81% of votes cast while Sall obtained 26.58%. If this had been the first-past-the-post system practiced in Cameroon, Wade would still be President of Senegal...
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks on Connecting Cultures at 2012 Commonwealth Lecture
"I knew the basic facts of Nigerian history when I first read Chinua Achebe’s novels “Things Fall Apart” and “Arrow of God,” but it was those novels that made me realize that while I may very well know the facts, I did not really know the truths. Bloodless words like ‘pacification’ and ‘amalgamation’ and ‘indirect rule’ were the facts, but the truths were in the human stories. A respected man being flogged publicly by agents of the colonial government. A priest, once resplendent in his pride and stubbornness, now reduced to sitting on a cold prison floor because he had dared to reject an offer from a British district officer. And in images such as these, I learned a great truth which the history books said nothing about: the loss of dignity."
(Full text of lecture available for download here)
January 2012 was a particularly hectic and nerve-wracking month for Cameroonian security and intelligence services, along with political, administrative and religious authorities in the “Grand Nord” as they frantically tried to put measures in place to hold back what they viewed as a potential, if not imminent, Boko Haram tidal wave across Northern Cameroon.
The evolution of Islam in Cameroon can be split into three major phases or generations; a the period of complete dominance by traditional Islam, followed by the era of the emergence of the “Arabized Intellectuals,” and finally, the period marked by the appearance of Islamic fundamentalism in the public sphere. Of course, this is not a linear trajectory since there is a certain amount of overlapping between these different periods.
The face of moderate traditional Islam in Cameroon:. Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, Muslim ruler of the Bamoun, at the ordination of a Catholic Priest, Father Mbouapegnigni, in Foumban.
“Biya was concerned about the threat of Islamic extremism.… He was beginning to worry about Islamic extremists infiltrating Cameroon from Nigeria and making inroads through Cameroonian mosques.” Wikileaks
The wave of Christmas Day bombings in Nigeria carried out by Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist sect which has its base in northeastern Nigeria, has once again raised the specter of religious extremism gaining a foothold in Cameroon.
A new $1000 USD annual African journalism award, named after the late Cameroonian journalist Bibi Ngota, has been launched. Read the award’s rationale along with submission guidelines and deadlines below. Cameroonian Journalists Protesting the death of Bibi Ngota (c) AFP)
The Problem of Political Impunity in Africa ‘A deep, very serious problem is undermining Africa: political impunity’, writes Philippe Orou Sica. As a result, ‘Political life is sometimes asphyxiated and criminalized. As soon as a Head of State accedes to power, he feels that he is above all law. His political and ethnic groups are protected as a result. On the one hand, issues are suppressed, and on the other, one can kill, assassinate political opponents in total impunity, and wage war against the whole or a part of the population with a cynicism and peace of mind that is most peculiar. Nothing seems to dissuade this murderous form of ‘politics’.’
"Is the CFAZONE ready to stand on its own by severing the umbilical cord with the Operations Account? Can a country such as Cameroon go it alone? My answer to both questions is a definite NO."
How should the CFAZONE be reformed?
Against the background of crisis in the Eurozone and the possible (but unlikely) collapse of the Euro and the stable economic and monetary situation which currently exists in the CFAZONE, with extremely low inflation, the question is in what direction should the CFAZONE chart its future? Is the CFAZONE ready to stand on its own by severing the umbilical cord with the Operations Account? Can a country such as Cameroon go it alone? My answer to both questions is a definite NO.
The Maastricht Treaty of Economic and Monetary Union did not specifically address the relationship between France and the Franc Zone. It merely recognized the national budget of each member state of the EC as a sovereign domain, subject to deficits being limited to less than 5% of GNP, which is one of the convergence criteria that must be met in order to qualify for EMU. However, since the convertibility of the FCFA was guaranteed through the budget of the French Treasury, which manages the Operations Account, the maintenance of the Franc Zone in its present form was not deemed to be in direct conflict with the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty.