Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

CNU changes momentum in the Cameroon

from Jerome F. Gwellem in Limbe

Cameroonians appear to be making full use of the atmosphere of freedom of speech generated by President Biya's New Deal. Our correspondent Jerome F. Gwellem reports on recent criticisms of the ruling CNU party at a delegates' conference. Criticisms which until recently would have been impossible in the country.
"In words and deeds, we must erase all that tended to put our party in the same category as dogmatic and totalitarian ones.

This statement was made in an interview recently by the Cameroon National Union (CNU) Party's political secretary, Mr Francois Sengat Kuo, who is also Cameroon's Minister of information and Culture.

Mr Sengat Kuo also said that the men of the New Deal are not necessarily new people but people with new mentalities and new ways of behaviour, determined to apply the principles of President Biya's New Deal Government.

Cameroon has changed momentum and it is high time the party adopt its rhythm to that of the state. Mr Sengat Kuo's interview came after the CNU Party recently embarked on a countrywide campaign to inject new life and democratise its various organs right from the grassroots.

This became necessary when the CNU's reputation dwindled after the 6th April abortive coup. President Biya in another interview recently said the "party didn't do its job of mobilisation during those sad events", Ten delegations comprising CNU Central Committee members were despatched to the provinces to reanimate the party organs.

The feedback from the provinces has signalled the fact that a new momentum of public debate on burning issues has become loud and clear for the first time since the party was formed on 1 September, 1966.

The delegations listened to criticisms of the party unheard of before. Speakers condemned the erstwhile undemocratic practice of choosing candidates and called for an early opportunity to elect their own leaders.

They attacked the list system of elections which was introduced by Ahidjo's regime so as to handpick his supporters for his rubber stamp parliament.

In Bamenda, North West Province, the CNU seminar listened to speaker after speaker deploring the use of ideological slogans which turn their leaders into dictators and demigods.

"Participants made radical demands for a total purge of both the govern- ment and party machinery. Some militants expressed the opinion that following the 6 April coup attempt it had become necessary to dissolve parli- ament in order to rid it of disloyal elements.

Other speakers wanted the name CNU to be changed because, according to them, "the CNU Party smelled much of Ahidjo.'

Cameroonians, in their new lease of outspoken criticism of the party which was a dream under Ahidjo, are hopeful that the New Deal leadership of President Biya doesn't degenerate into a one-man rule.

Mr Francois Sengat Kou has emphasised that "the fundamental concern of Paul Biya's New Deal government is to allow all Cameroonians to participate fully in the taking of decisions which have a direct bearing on their daily existence".


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