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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cameroon October 9

Cameroonians go to the polls again next October 9. The central African state will once more look at the fabric of its democratic institutions or what they seem to be.
The country that has been under the rule of President Paul Biya since November 6, 1982, will be faced essentially with one choice. Give Paul Biya a 7 year extension or thank him for his 29-year tenure.
For the first time a new electoral organ Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), will oversee the poll. Can they deliver transparent elections?

The Organiser

From its onset ELECAM faced stiff opposition. Born out of the ashes of a less-independent National Elections Observatory, cash-strapped by the government and tied to the apron string of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization that hitherto organized elections in the country, ELECAM clearly has to show a new face.

ELECAM still gets its cash from the national treasury, and despite its laudable efforts to single-handedly oversee the voter registration process, and canvass new voters, the bulk of its electoral list remains voters enlisted in the previous years by less credible officials and institutions.

The other thorny issue is the members of the electoral board. The balance of the organ was hugely tilted by an abundance of staunch partisans turned independent observers. Most of them former die-hards of the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement Party. The naming of 6 new members somewhat diluted the solution, but this has not entirely given the organ a much needed integrity.

The Diaspora vote could prove to be too much for an electoral body, handling elections for the first time. In a first for Cameroon, government will allow Cameroonians living abroad to vote, in what can be seen as the latest democratic stride. Polling stations will be open in 33 countries abroad. Voting will take place only in countries with Cameroonian diplomatic missions. The measure is still to impress many critical Cameroonians in the Diaspora, while others are quite pleased with the possibility to participate.

The Candidates

The big question of this election remained if the incumbent Paul Biya will run for re-election or not? His declaration of candidacy has now been made by the party’s politburo, waving off controversy over if the candidate of the ruling CPDM was to be chosen by the party’s congress set to meet from September 15-16, or the Central Committee. A date that fell out of the constitutional timeframe for the submission of candidatures. The Central Committee of the CPDM in an act of political make-up has now settled the issue. Mr. Paul Biya will run, in accordance with Article 27(3) of the CPDM bylaws.

The leading opposition party the Social Democratic Front in a similar move convened its National Executive Council urgently on September 3 to endorse Ni John Fru Ndi, the perennial Chairman, on whose shoulders hopes of change once rested.
In all, 51 aspirants have entered the presidential race yet none gives Cameroonians any real hope of unseating Paul Biya.

The evergreens include the ailing Augustin Frederick Kodock (UPC), Adamu Ndam Njoya (UDC), Hameni Bieleu (UFDC), and….
Three women are in the race including the outspoken Edith Kahbang Walla, Esther Dang, and Lamartine Tchana.

The official campaign window is expected to open two weeks to October 9. Cameroonians will have to choose a president for a fresh 7 year term. Elections are sensitive, even in an island of peace like Cameroon, and government is clasping its hands in prayer for no post-electoral violence. Many Cameroonians want change, but also want a peaceful transition. A constitutional modification in March 2008 introduced a limitless presidential mandate, making the hopes for change less likely.
ELECAM speaks of approximately 8 million Cameroonians voting. A huge turnout will be quite a surprise, considering the half-hearted performance of the political actors involved. Cameroon could become the giant it claims it is in Central Africa, if it truly becomes a democratic example to its neighbours, and earns global recognition.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Commercial Power of African Mango

The market value of the bush mango has risen two or three fold since research concluded that the kernel of the fruit suppresses appetite and helps in the control of body weight.

Bush mango originating from Cameroon seems to be the most wanted specie on the international market, since the innovative research work was first done in Cameroon.

Can the bush mango which before now grew mostly in the wild be farmed and commercialized? Can the fruit become as valuable as cocoa or coffee?

fonka mutta beau-bernard reports.

Finding the African Mango

What if the solution to weight loss was right here, in the tropics? Studies carried out by the Laboratory of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry of the University of Yaounde I, in 2005 and later confirmed in the United States, both confirm that the African Bush mango (irvingia gabonensis) helps control body weight.

The bush mango, as it is known locally, is the new natural product that is rattling the US weight loss market. Many doctors have presented the fruit as the strongest natural fat burner known so far. In the US weight loss specialist including the renowned Dr. Mehemet Oz have backed this claim.

fonka mutta beau-bernard met Prof. Julius Oben, one of the Cameroonian researchers behind this discovery to confirm this story, but first he takes us into the forest to find the bush mango.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CAMAIR.CO flies, needs to stay afloat

It wasn’t a mammoth crowd, but those present on Monday, March 28, at the Douala and Yaounde airports made enough noise to compete with the rumble of the Boeing 767-300. Le Dja, CAMAIR.CO’s flagship carrier, recently refurbished in Ireland, with some 174 passengers on board performed the inaugural flight of Cameroon’s new national airlines. That same evening the first commercial flight went from Douala to Paris.

With champagne on its wings the plane left Douala, and was greeted in the skies of the Nsimalen International Airport some 25 minutes later with even more champagne and an official inaugural. Transport minister, Bello Bouba Maigari, retraced the origins of CAMAIR.CO, born after the defunct CAMAIR was finally laid to rest by the state of Cameroon. As he spoke, many in the crowd made comments about hoping that the demons that haunted CAMAIR do not return to haunt CAMAIR.CO.

The staff of the new airlines, its first passengers and other observers, brimmed with pride as the new airline with ‘The Star of Cameroon’ inscribed in bold along its side taxied on the Nsimalen International Airport.

“We are looking to start new destinations. We don't want to become necessarily the biggest airlines, but we want to become a respectable airlines in the sub-region” Alex van Elk, the General Manager of CAMAIR.CO said sounding cautious about the future of the budding airlines.
With a fleet of just two aircrafts, the airliner will have to provide air transport services to travelers on the national territory and abroad. The Dutchman’s ability to ward off government intervention and influence-peddling, more than his skill in the business of aviation,will be his biggest test.
“We are not afraid of competition” he pressed on in response to the increase of other commercial airlines in the skies of Cameroon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can Cameroon Stop Importing Rice?

Cameroon imported more than 400 thousand tons of the rice in 2010. This figure represents over 80% of the rice it consumes. During the Ebolowa agro pastoral show, we were again reminded of Cameroon’s rice growing potential. Farmers who grow rice under the Upper Noun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), say they can double their production if government decided to invest in the sector.

The farmers from Ndop displayed just how they can grow rice, believed to be grown only in marshlands, almost anywhere.While huge potential also exists in the plains of Yagoua in the Far North region.

Rice is just one example of Cameroon’s agricultural potential, but controversially the country remains largely dependent on foreign imports.

It is urgent for the country to reverse this trend, as we hear in the following analysis by fonka mutta beau-bernard.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hut of the forest people

The 'agric show' that is underway in Cameroon's southern town of Ebolowa celebrates farmers but also the traditions that continue to shape the way agriculture is done in the country.
As part of the rich traditions on display in Ebolowa, is the hut of the forest people of the South region. The hut constructed in the middle of the agric show village has been receiving a steady flow of visitors fascinated by the way of life of our fore-fathers.
In the video below I present to you a typical hut of the forest people of Cameroon, one of the big cultural attractions of the agro-pastoral show.