Yaoundé(National Times)-The march past ceremony marking the 53rd National Youth Day celebrations in the nation’s capital, Yaoundé on Monday, February 11 took place without the usual presence of youth organs of major political parties in the country.
The march past which was carefully tele-guided by State officials carefully kept aside political parties. No official reason was advanced for their rejection, but unconfirmed information says Government wants to avoid any embarrassment like the one suffered in the hands of members of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party during last 20th May celebrations were they marched-pass in front of the President half-naked with anti-regime messages.
Moreover, with the tensed political atmosphere in Cameroon especially with the war in the Anglophone Regions as well as the incarceration of some political leaders including Professor Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) the Government was not prepared to welcome any unprepared occurrence.
The march past this Monday in Yaoundé was shorter than usual and involved just about 15,000 persons from mostly primary, secondary, university and some professional schools of higher learning.
Junior Parliamentarians also march past as well as youth groups representing some religious and missionary societies in Cameroon.
Music was essentially provided by the National Gendarmerie band and the ceremony was chaired by the Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mounouna Foutsou in the company of some members of Government, diplomats and special invitees.
As they march past, they carried the colours of the national flag as well as messages written and handed to them by State officials, crusading for Biya’s Greater Opportunities.
Some of the messages on the board were out to denounce social media ‘manipulation’ as well as violence. “Violence, an obstacle to development and prosperity,” one of the messages read. Another read, “no to hate messages on the social media.” However, the most visible messages and boards depicted the image of Paul Biya with messages praising him. The public was not as present as in past editions especially after the message of Paul Biya on the eve of the ceremony which to many youths failed to address prominent national concerns of the time.
It was the first time in recent years for Youth Day manifestations not to include political parties.
In the past, Government has instead encouraged these parties to participate massively as an evidence of Cameroon’s democracy. In some cases especially within the ranks of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) young men and women were paid to carry the party’s uniform and file past the official tribune.
Celebrated this year under the theme, “youth, greater opportunities in the building of a peaceful, stable and emergent Cameroon,” activities are taking place within the backdrop of increase daily violence and bloodshed in Anglophone Cameroon where tens of thousands of youths are unable to take part.