The parliamentary geo-political map of Cameroon as it stands is already so starkly pronounced that one may wonder whether there is any point in returning to the polls. The CPDM with its 133 members of parliament which is the lion’s share of the total number of parties in the National Assembly makes the People’s Parliament look like a sea of CPDM members with only a few opposition parliamentarians doted here and there.
But the point is that the repeat elections must still be held, for such is the paradox that democracy can present to the political analyst. Like the other parties involved in the election rerun, Paul Biya’s party is working tooth and nail to increase its number of seats. If it succeeds it will consolidate its standing in the house even further. On the other hand, if the opposition wins those seats, it will add more credibility and oomph to its parliamentary hold. And as any one can see, the main opposition parties, that is, the S.D.F and the U.N.D.P, but especially the U.N.D.P, are in dire need of more seats as the ground they have lost is breathtaking.
While the opposition ponders its losses, the C.P.D.M has been polishing its armory and skillfully placing the pawns on the squares of the chessboard. Meanwhile, the choosing of the National Bureau of the National Assembly has taken place as expected. Some of the highlights witnessed in the event are the replacement of Amougou Noma Nicolas as vice president and the choice of a woman, Hon. Rose Abunaw as 2nd vice president. Not only does Hon. Abunaw thus honour her Manyu constituency with her brilliant selection, but she has suddenly found herself flying the flag for all Cameroonian women, being the first female vice president of the National Assembly. This time around the S.D.F has emerged as the only opposition party with up to 15 seats. The party has had Hon. Mbah Ndam Joseph retained as its parliamentary leader. Hon. Yoyo Emmanuel, another SDF member of parliament of course, stays as questor.
Yet, some of the reactions of the opposition party have been tantamount to missing the point. For instance, some people expressed disappointment that Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril was returned as president of the National Assembly, the idea being that he had served in the post for too long. But one wonders how long is too long? Is there any time limit for this? Besides, the choice of the speaker of the House rests with the party that wins the majority of seats at the elections. That is one of the margins of maneuver that the majority enjoys. It is a right, a privilege and a priority. However, the opposition must be made to face facts. Firstly, Cavaye enjoys a globally positive reputation in his years as both Member of Parliament and president of the National Assembly, his record as both M.P and president of the Assembly is globally positive. The opposition must realize that sake for the sake of change is not good enough. In fact, it is counter productive.
As we await the repeat elections, President Paul Biya is no doubt contemplating a cabinet reshuffle. It is everyone’s guess whether with such a big majority in the National Assembly and the lacklustre performance of opposition members such as Bello Bouba Maigari who have joined the government as cabinet ministers, Paul Biya will not spring a surprise on observers, whatever that surprise may be.
However, the S.D.F Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi had made it clear that if asked, his party would not join the government. Nonetheless, for the keen observer of the Cameroon political scene, this stance by the SDF is not surprising because ever since the party was born in 1990, its leadership has always opposed joining a coalition government with Paul Biya at the helm of affairs. Obviously, this tough stance has divided the SDF as some members have wished the policy was revised so that the SDF can show the world that “it can run things differently and better”.
The key question now is whether the hard line opposition parties will ever either now or later join the government. The answer is that since a week is a long time in politics, it is only the end that will justify the means.