CAMEROON NEWS: CARDINAL TUMI AND BISHOP KLEDA, THE REBELS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH|In 1991, the echo of La Baule’s speech advocating greater democratization in Africa reached Cameroon, which is entering a cycle of political disputes and violence that have been called the “years of embers”.


Pressed by those in Cameroon and abroad who asked him to organize a sovereign national conference, Paul Biya launched them on June 27, 1991 in front of the national assembly, “Cameroon is Cameroon”, evoking a Cameroonian exception which disqualifies foreign models and their promoters. This means that if the opposition wants to gain power, it will have to go through universal suffrage.

The presidential election of 11 October 1992 is hotly contested and sees John Fru Ndi, leader of the SDF officially credited with 35.9% of the vote, 50,000 fewer votes than Paul Biya, the outgoing president, declared re-elected with 39.9 % voices. The Supreme Court recognizes that there were irregularities, but does not cancel the vote. Fru Ndi speaks of “stolen victory”, which seems to confirm the reports of international observers, particularly that of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), which emphasizes the “seriousness of irregularities and the massive nature of fraud”. The Cameroonian government disqualifies the objectivity of the NDI report and claims that it is “a web of lies” suggesting that “some foreigners are acting hostile to Cameroon.”

To counter external pressures on the regime and foreign anti-regime lobbying of opposition parties and NGOs supporting their work , the government sends high-level explanatory missions throughout the world including France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, Canada and China from November 4, 1992 to reassure the international community that the ongoing democratic process is on track.

The elections in Cameroon will become from 1992, real objects of foreign policy leading directly to certain actions (search for support, public statements, rejection of external pressures, denunciations of foreign interference) and a major issue of communication for both the the power that proclaims each time the transparency of the polls and the regularity of its successive victories, only for the opposition which constantly denounces fraud and claims stolen victories. The presidential election of October 12, 1997, however, will not experience turbulence, Paul Biya being the only candidate to run, all the tenors of the opposition having boycotted the vote, for lack of having obtained the creation of an independent electoral commission. A personality who does not reside abroad but in Cameroon, Cardinal Christian Tumi, former archbishop of Douala often considered as an opponent of the Cameroonian regime will have through its interviews in foreign media carried abroad and inside Cameroon an opposite or, at least divergent voice, that of the power.

His first statements that disturb the Cameroonian government are made in the French daily Libération, on the eve of the presidential election of October 12, 1997:
“I am sure that if the presidential election were organized in a transparent way, there would be a radical change. [… I say, without being afraid of being contradicted, that we make fun of democracy. There is no democracy when those who are of voting age are not registered. In the last elections, voter cards were refused to young priests on the pretext that the Church would be part of the opposition. […] Some young people no longer believe in change through democracy and say they are ready to choose another path … […] All the conditions are fulfilled for the country to break out “.

But it is on the airwaves of Radio France Internationale (RFI) that the statements of Monsignor Tumi forged the image of opponent of the prelate. Called to give his opinion on the presidential election ballot of 11 October 2004, for example, Cardinal Christian Tumi, presented by RFI as a “great moral authority in Cameroon” states:
“According to the report I received from Catholic observers, he told me that these elections, these crutches, must be described as an electoral masquerade. […] The inscriptions were multiple, that is to say that there were voters who carried several cards at a time, two, three, four or even ten. The ink was not indelible. I voted, and before I got home, the ink was already erased. Many regularly registered people did not find their names in any list. ”

Following the dissemination of these statements, the Minister of Communication, Jacques Fame Ndongo accuses RFI of violating the universal laws of journalistic ethics and treating major events in Cameroon with a bias inadmissible for giving the floor to the Only cardinal Christian Tumi criticizes the conduct of the vote while an interview with Pastor Mfochive, president of The Evangelical Church of Cameroon, which, however, praises the conduct of the vote, has not been broadcast. For Jacques Fame Ndongo, “the presidential election of October 11, 2004 is a masquerade in the minds of those who dream of a Cameroon that is at the antipodes of peace, unity, democracy and progress Economic and Social. “.

While it appeared to regularly show sympathy for the Cameroonian opposition, the French press in general, and Radio France Internationale, in particular, showed little goodwill towards the Biya regime. The confusion and mistrust born of this imbalance in the treatment of information will create in Cameroon a conspiracy psychosis that would see RFI, the voice of France, take the pretext of electoral transparency or the question of human rights to destabilize Cameroon.