The Constitutional Council has rejected all 12 petitions filed by some aggrieved Presidential hopefuls who were not retained for the race to the Presidency by the Elections Management Body (ELECAM).
Seating on Friday, August 17, 2018, at the Yaoundé Congress Hall, the 11 members of the constitutional Council carefully read all the petitions, one after the other before passing their verdict. Out of the 12 initial petitions, that submitted by Bertin Kisob was disallowed at first instance leaving 11 petitions for the course.
The session which started at about 9:30 am ran for seven hours. It started with the reading of the petition of Aboubakar Kalmadine, who wanted to run for the election as an Independent Candidate. His plea was simply rejected for failing to provide the necessary 300,000 signatures required as per the law.
It was a similar situation for most of the candidates who wanted to run for the election as Independent Candidates. They either did not have the required 300,000 signatures backing their claims or failed to pay the caution fee FCFA 30 million.
Sosthene Fouda’s drama
One of the most dramatic moves at Friday’s hearing was staged by Vincent Sosthene Fouda. In his close to 30mins defence, the Professor of Law, who called himself “a Surgeon of Law” started by asking for a bottle of water and a glass which were presented to him.
Sosthene Fouda argued extensively that it was impossible for any Cameroonian to obtain 300,000 signatures because the sociology of Cameroon does not permit since it has to be signed by certain personalities like First Class Chiefs, Councillors etc. He said an entire Region like Centre has only 4 First Class Chiefs which makes it impossible to have the required number of signatures and with the postponement of the Municipal Elections, certain parties were prevented from having councillors. He lamented that the country’s Economic and Social Council which is supposed to have 150 councillors has only three living as of now.
He also failed to present a certificate of nationality which he argued that the Yaoundé authorities have blocked him despite being a bonafide tax payer.
Fouda dramatised his plea by appealing to the consciences of the members of the Constitutional Council, asking them not to be “small soldiers of small virtues” but to make history by accepting his candidature.
According to him, ELECAM lied and if the members of the Constitutional Council, some of whom are his former Law Professors (Lekene Donfack, Joseph Marie Bipoum Woum) don’t “say the Law,” they would be challenging what they taught him. However, his protracted defence did not cause the Council’s member to change their minds.
Olivier Bile’s near miss
Candidate Olivier Bile of the Union of Progressive Forces was the greatest loser of the day as his petition was rejected because he failed to pay the required FCFA 30 million caution fee.
However, his case was particular because according to him, he arrived the Yaoundé Treasury at about 8:00 pm on the last date and was told by the guards that services were closed.
He argued that according to an official circular, all offices charged with the processing of candidates’ documents were supposed to be opened till midnight. He pleaded with the Council to allow him pay the caution and run for the presidency. According to the Lawyer representing ELECAM, Government offices in Cameroon are supposed to close at 3:30 pm as per the law.
After a lengthy debate, the Constitutional Council still did not find favour in his plea and rejected his case.
Comedy at the session
Despite the seriously of the events, there was also what observers called comedy at this Friday’s hearing as staged by a certain Ze Avene Genevieve.
Her file lacked many documents, but she pleaded with members of the Council to allow her compete for the Presidency because she has a mandate from God to redeem Cameroon. She gave a purely spiritual connotation to the trend of events and argued that a rejection of her file would be tantamount to letting Cameroon wallop in sin.
Her file was simply rejected as most persons in the hall were laughing.
A handful of candidates also filed petition for the rejection of the file of candidate Biya Paul with one of them arguing that Biya Paul was different from Paul Biya.
Another, Ane Ihims focused on the achievements of Paul Biya for the past 35 years and concluded that he has destroyed Cameroon, and according to him, he should not be allowed to run for the Presidency again.
The Council declared that all the petitioners lack the locus standi to put forward such a petition and the Council does not dwell on the mandate of the President of the Republic.
Some of the petitioners were present at the hall with the ruling CPDM represented by its Deputy Secretary General, Gregroire Owona and the Director of the party’s Academy, Prof Elvis Ngolle Ngolle.
The verdict of the Constitutional Council is final and cannot be appealed. With no petitioners’ plea accepted, it means there would be eight candidates to challenge incumbent Paul Biya.