Monday, February 24, 2014

Cameroon 's Reunification Controversy: Open Door To Violence

Cameroon Radio Television – CRTV – in its programme “Cameroon Calling” of February 23, 2014, interviewed a number of persons about the high-sounding nothing christened “50th Anniversary of Reunification”. Among them was Dr Simon Munzu. Munzu, inter alia, dismissed as unworkable Mola Njoh Litumbe’s contention that there is no legal “reunification” between la Republique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons; and that there is need for dialogue, leading to the signing of an instrument of joining. The ground of Dr Munzu’s stance is that the United Nations did endorse the plebiscite and that it cannot come back on what it has done. He was categorical that the United Nations will not even entertain the issue.

    With much respect, one would opine that Munzu made a political pronouncement akin to a layman’s assertion rather than a statement of law. Even as law is essentially argumentative, it would be unfair not to suppose that Munzu, for incomprehensible reasons, overlooked basic notions of the law. With his leave, we propose to draw the learned man of law’s attention to some basic facts and law. 

    We all know that relevancy is the cardinal canon in every legal disputation. And so do we talk about the fact in issue; facts relevant to the fact in issue; and facts relevant to facts relevant to the fact in issue. In sum, it is elementary law that relevancy does not stretch with infinite elasticity. Munzu may therefore wish to agree with us that the conduct of the plebiscite has never been an issue relevant to the fact in issue that the joining of la Republique to Cameroun by Southern Cameroun is not evidenced in writing. Panels of eminent scholars have so found over the years, thereby endorsing our stance, among us Mola Njoh Litumbe, that there is no legal instrument (document) showing that the two countries have ever been one. The President of la Republique du Cameroun does not hold to the contrary.

  Intellectual honesty demands then that Munzu who holds himself out as being more knowledgeable than all of us, including the members of the various panels, (perhaps more president than the President of la Republique du Cameroun), and who consequently holds a contrary view, should name the relevant document, or even just refer us to it. That, in all honesty, is the legal means of proof or disproof. No-one needs to be a fellow in law to din this into Dr Munzu’s head. 

    If the learned doctor’s trump card is the worthless document called “Cameroon Federal Constitution”, Munzu knows, or at least is presumed to know, that the said document was enacted by the National Assembly of la Republique du Cameroun in April, 1961 – some six months prior to the purported reunification on October 1, 1961. Neither in the context of time nor space did the National Assembly of la Republique du Cameroun have jurisdiction over Southern Cameroons. It is elementary law that, as long as that foreign instrument, namely, “Cameroon Federal Constitution”, was not ratified by the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly, (and perhaps the House of chiefs), prior to the date of the so-called reunification, the said document does not have any binding effect on Southern Cameroons.    Even if any legal instrument there ever was that evidenced the joining, that did not dispense with the legal duty imposed by Article 102 of the United Nations Charter on the member state that la Republique to Cameroun had been since September 1960 to deposit the instrument with the United Nations as evidence of variation in the international boundaries of that member state as of its date of independence. It may not be insulting to say that there is nothing inscrutable about that contention; at least not for a person of Munzu’s erudition.

    Granted by the widest and wildest stretch of imagination that there was joining as per the process laid down by the United Nations, on what ground does Munzu base his categorical assertion that the United Nations can never undo what it has done? Munzu knows, or ought to know, that Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia that was a member state of the United Nations. Similarly were East Timor, Eritrea, and South Sudan yesterday parts of member states of the United Nations. Yet did the same United Nations carve out those new states. If Southern Cameroons is a case sui generis, intellectual honesty here again burdens Munzu with proof of the fact that Southern Cameroons is a special case. Millions of Southern Cameroonians expect Munzu to unburden himself so as to dissipate rightful suspicion. That seems important and imperative because not too many ordinary Southern Cameroonians may understand what appears to be a subtle message from him. 

    Indeed, Southern Cameroonians of a reasonable station in life do find Munzu’s subtlety bare of ambiguity. They know that for his learning and relations with the United Nations, Munzu is possessed of all the facts. He surely is not wrong in his assertions relative to the conduct of international business by that world body. It is common knowledge that only violence compelled the United Nations to create the new nations out of its member states. Munzu therefore advises that our slogan of “the force of argument…” can never set the United Nations in motion. To explain in superfluity, Munzu is categorical that the only language the United Nations understands is violence. And that, after all, is enshrined in the charter of the world body!

* Ayah Paul is a career magistrate of exceptional class and Secretary-General of People's Action Party(PAP),an opposition political party in Cameroon..He is a two-term former Member of Parliament 

No comments: