From the Archived: Cameroonians are bracing for the results of October 07 Presidential election, in a climate wreaked with instability and uncertainty. Even as we await the unlikely “possible” return to stability in the country after the presidential elections, we should also ask what other possible outcomes we can expect in light of the current social, economic and political developments in the country.
Here are my four possible outcomes.
Paul Biya wins, and things return to normal
President Paul Biya, in his maiden speech in Maroua, in the Far North Region of Cameroon, promised his audience that if re-elected for his seventh term in office, he will “crush” secessionists and terrorists in the North and Southwestern part of the country.
Biya’s promise to the people of Maroua is a possible scenario to expect in Cameroon after the election. Biya wins the election, he tightens security in the insecure regions, even if that means more deaths. And out of fear and oppression terrorists and secessionists surrender or are killed, and everything returns to normal. Like a morning after a night of storm, Cameroonians will wake up to fallen trees and broken axes and guns. Vehicles will booze the streets like bees, while children will return to schools like fresh water into an ocean. All will be back to normal. But Biya expects everything but calm, after the elections.
Post-electoral protest and violence
Early in June, the renown investigative paper, Africa confidential, reported that Paul Biya has boosted his personal security as well as that of his ministers. More than 3000 Cameroonians have been recruited into the fortified and well equipped presidential guards to protect the president after the October elections. The reason, the paper argues, is because the regime believes opposition will not accept elections without a fight. They will fight like a snake whose head has been chopped off. Even if it will soon surrender to a new reality, it won’t go without a fight.
You as Biya should expect that even if he wins, there may be protests from opposition parties. They can accuse the regime of rigging the elections, of preventing opposition supporters from voting or of any other electoral malpractice. The honest truth is, given the unpopularity of the regime across country, the opposition may be betting on this dislike to see youths fill the streets of Yaounde and Douala.
But that notwithstanding, they know the regime will eventually crush these protests as it has promised to crush all “instigators”. Like a dog whose owner is to be arrested by the police, Biya will expect the protest, but he knows they won’t last for long.
Pessimist may predict a long lasting chaotic and unstable country resulting from post-electoral protests. I choose to be an optimist.
Economic boycott of goods produced by all Biya supporters
But we should not underestimate what measures the opposition can use to also “crush” the regime. As some opposition supporters such as Boris Bertolt have stated, the elections are the first step in their devotion to oust the current regime.
There are several other steps, and lessons from other countries too. One other measure can be boycotting goods and services produced and marketed by all businesses and individuals that support the current regime. We saw this in Kenya where the Odinga camp promised to boycott banks, breweries, and even eateries owned, or managed by pro-Kenyatta supporters.
The opposition may organize a campaign where businesses are openly called to state their allegiance. And failure to do so or supporting Biya leads to mass boycott. They can also use existing statements to know which persons and business to target.
You can be sure that this will cripple the already struggling economy. Businesses that have supported the government will cut investment, struggle with public relations to survive, and even sack thousands of workers to remain afloat. The government knows it can control the army, not the pockets of the consumers. And the consumers’ wallet can be a force to recon with too.
If the boycott extends to all companies that use celebrities, who support Biya, for promotion, as Americans are doing against Trump, then several banks, and even producers of essentials will be affected. But never underestimate the government. It has survived even the hardest of threats.
The opposition wins
Eighty three percent of all democratic elections in Africa since the beginning of the twenty first century have been won by the incumbent party or party in power. But that also means seventeen percent have been won by opposition.
However, in the seventeen percent of elections won by opposition, fifteen have been a coalition of opposition parties. Which means there is even a higher possibility that Biya will win this elections amidst divided opposition in Cameroon.
In the case that the highly impossible were to occur–that is an opposition candidate were to declared the winner, we will see a new face in Etoudi. Whether or not the new party will usher the country into a new era, returning trust in public services, security across the country or continue in poor governance, we will have to wait. But we can’t write this off as a possible outcome. After all, Matthew 19:26 says “with God all things are possible”.