Wednesday, June 22, 2011


By Larry Eyong

The selectiveness with which the United States decides on which dictator, must democratize, and which ones may perpetuate their power, is as breathtaking, as it is brazen. So, while the United States is launching one hundred tomahawk missiles, at a million dollars apiece at   Ghaddafi ‘s Libya, it is sacredly prodding the house of Saud in Saudi Arabia, to prop up the tottering edifice of the  Al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain –condoning the suppression of seventy percent of the population that is Shiite, because Bahrain is the base of the US fifth fleet, -the standby force that maintains the Pax American in the Middle East.   

This same skewed logic explains why the United States did assist France to oust the nationalist Gbagbo in Ivory Coast, while at the same time sending troops to prop up the venially dictatorial Biya and Compoare regimes in Cameroon and Burkina Faso respectively.

Thus, in spite of the “Arab Spring”, the United States seems to have decided, in its infinite discretion, that the people of Cameroon do not deserve the benefits of freedom, or the enjoyment of the fruits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, because the profits of ExxonMobil and the strategic interests of the Unites States pertaining to the Chad –Cameroon pipeline are more important.

Obviously, the foregoing assertion is rebuttable on grounds that the Cameroonian people are supposed to be masters of their own destiny, and that a people have the leaders that they deserve. Well, if horses were wishes, then beggars would ride: the peaceable people of Cameroon, while cherishing the benefits of freedom and the prerogative of democratically electing their leaders through the ballot box, don’t seem to be ready to risk life and limb in furtherance of that goal. At least, not right now. 
 One could argue that the domino effects of the other collapsing dictators could create a contagion that would sweep through dictatorships like the one that has held sway in Cameroon for twenty nine years. Not when the youth are so disenchanted with their  leaders, and so destitute that survival is more urgent than freedom.

When the United States funds a five thousand man strong tribal army for the Biya dictatorship under the auspices of Africom; when security forces attack and kill unarmed demonstrators with sheer wantonness, the fear that is instilled in the psyche of the nation is so paralyzing that even presidential candidates cannot dare travel and organize in most of the country. It is easy to blame Cameroonians for not standing up to the dictator. But standing up with olive branches against helicopter gun-ships spraying rockets does not seem to be a fair fight.

The wounds and scourging of the 1990 multiparty struggle, the betrayal, still evergreen in the memory of the university students who spearheaded the struggle is utterly paralyzing. The greedy opposition leaders are still around, bearing their teeth like hyenas. Eyeing the money that Biya is ready to disburse to them for participating in the election and thus legitimizing his dictatorship, no one is ready to cede place to the most electable opposition leader who could oust Biya and start the process of genuine reform.

Perhaps most distressing, is the crowd of Lilliputians; the lackluster, small time candidates without the resources, clout or name recognition to make a real difference. In their morbid self-love, they have refused to liaise with each other. Without a united front, they are sure to guarantee Biya the appearance of legitimacy. Cameroonians seem resigned to wait for the inexorable death of Biya, to hope to chart a new course in the future. But, the future seems bleak. With the Ivorian example still burnished in the popular imagination of Cameroonians, the specter of an increasing French presence and influence looms large. So too does the probability of violence.

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