40. Cameroon (1961-present)

 

Crisis Phase (October 1, 1961-June 2, 1972):  French Cameroon and the southern part of British Cameroon were united as the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961.  Supporters of the Union of Cameroonian Peoples (Union des Populations du Cameroon – UPC) led by Ernest Ouandié and Tankeu Noé established the National Liberation Army of Cameroon (Armée de libération nationale Kamerounaise – ANLK) in opposition to the government of President Ahmadou Ahidjo.  In January 1962, the National United Front (Front national Unifié – FNU) was established with André-Marie Mbida as president.  On June 23, 1962, the FNU published a manifesto opposing the establishment of a single-party system in Cameroon.  On June 29, 1962, André-Marie Mbida and other FNU leaders were arrested and imprisoned.  Tankeu Noé was captured by government troops, and convicted of terrorism on September 9, 1963.  Tankeu Noé was executed by the government in Douala on January 3, 1964.  Legislative elections were held on April 24, 1964, and the Cameroon Union (Union Camerounaise – UC) won 40 out of 50 seats in the National Assembly.  The Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) won ten seats in the National Assembly.  President Ahmadou Ahidjo was re-elected on March 20, 1965. The Cameroon National Union (Union Nationale Camerounaise – UNC) was established as a result of a merger of six political parties in September 1966, and the government banned the UPC and all other political parties. Some 125 individuals were killed in political violence in the village of Tombel on December 30-31, 1966. On May 13, 1967, seventeen individuals were sentenced to death for their involvement in the killings in Tombel.  Legislative elections were held on June 7, 1970, and the UNC won 50 out of 50 seats in the National Assembly.  Ernest Ouandié, leader of the UPC, was captured by government troops on August 18, 1970, and he was sentenced to death on January 5, 1971.  Ernest Ouandié and two other individuals were executed on January 15, 1971.  A new constitution, which called for abolishing the federal structure and changing the name of the country to the United Republic of Cameroon, was approved in a national referendum on May 20, 1972.  The government proclaimed a one-party political system on June 2, 1972.

Post-Crisis Phase (June 3, 1972-August 21, 1983):  Legislative elections were held on May 18, 1973, and the Cameroon National Union (Union Nationale Camerounaise – UNC) won 120 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly. President Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo was re-elected for a fourth term without opposition on April 5, 1975.  President Ahidjo appointed Paul Biya as prime minister on June 30, 1975.  Legislative elections were held on May 28, 1978, and the UNC won 120 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  Government troops and civilians clashed in the village of Dolle on October 20-21, 1979, resulting in the deaths of some 30 individuals. President Ahidjo was re-elected to a fifth term with 99 percent of the vote on April 5, 1980. President Ahidjo resigned on November 4, 1982, and Prime Minister Paul Biya was appointed as president on November 5, 1982.  President Biya appointed Maigari Bello Bouba, leader of the National Union for Democracy and Progress (Union Nationale pour la Démocratie et le Progrès – UNDP), as prime minister on November 6, 1982.  Legislative elections were held on May 29, 1983, and the UNC won 120 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.

Crisis Phase (August 22, 1983-December 19, 1991):  President Paul Biya accused former president Ahmadou Ahidjo of plotting a coup, announced emergency measures, and dismissed Prime Minister Maigari Bello Bouba on August 22, 1983.  President Biya was re-elected without opposition on January 14, 1984, and he was inaugurated on January 21, 1984. On February 28, 1984, two individuals were convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal for their involvement in a rebellion (the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment on March 16, 1984). On March 24, 1984, three individuals were executed for their involvement in the rebellion.  Government troops suppressed a military rebellion by the Republican Guard (presidential palace guard) on April 6-9, 1984, resulting in the deaths of several individuals (estimates range from 71 to more than 1,000).  Some 35 members of the Republican Guard were executed for their involvement in the military rebellion.  The government declared a state-of-emergency on April 18, 1984. The Cameroon National Union (Union Nationale Camerounaise – UNC) was renamed as the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais – RDPC) in 1985.  Municipal elections were held on October 25, 1987. Legislative elections were held on April 24, 1988, and the RDPC won 180 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly. President Biya was elected without opposition on April 24, 1988.  The Social Democratic Front (SDF) was established by John Fru Ndi in Bamenda on May 26, 1990.  Government police clashed with supporters of the SDF in Bamenda on May 26, 1990, resulting in the deaths of six individuals.  The National Assembly approved legislation on December 6, 1990, which provided for a multiparty political system.  Several thousand individuals demonstrated against the government in Yaounde and other cities on May 4-16, 1991, resulting in the deaths of some 45 individuals.  The government lifted the state-of-emergency on December 19, 1991.  Some 300 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (December 20, 1991-February 22, 2008):  On December 31, 1991, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) announced a boycott of upcoming legislative elections.  Legislative elections were held on March 1, 1992, and the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais – RDPC) won 88 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly. The National Union for Democracy and Progress (Union Nationale pour la Démocratie et le Progrès – UNDP) won 68 seats in the National Assembly.  President Biya of the RDPC was re-elected with 40 percent of the vote on October 11, 1992, and he was inaugurated as president for a third term on November 3, 1992. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) sent observers to monitor the presidential election, and reported that there had been “widespread irregularities” in the election process on October 28, 1992. The European Community (EC) appealed for negotiations between representatives of the government and opposition parties on November 4, 1992.  The U.S. government imposed economic sanctions (restrictions on foreign assistance) against the government of Cameroon in November 1992.  On November 8, 1994, the UNDP boycotted the National Assembly after the arrest of 30 members of the UNDP in July 1994.  Cameroon joined the Commonwealth of Nations (CON) on November 13, 1995.  Municipal elections were held on January 21, 1996, and the RDPC won some 56 percent of the vote. Two individuals were killed in political violence in Douala on January 23, 1996, and four individuals were killed in political violence in Limbe on March 2, 1996.  Southern Cameroon separatists killed four government soldiers in Bamenda on March 28, 1996.  President Paul Biya dismissed Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu, and appointed Peter Mafany Musonge as prime minister on September 19, 1996.  Legislative elections were held on May 17, 1997, and the RDPC won 109 of the 180 seats in the National Assembly. The Social Democratic Front (SDF) won 43 seats in the National Assembly.  Five individuals were killed in election-related violence. The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) sent nine observers to monitor the legislative elections from May 1 to June 9, 1997. The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent 21 observers from twelve countries headed by Jean-Jacques Blais of Canada to monitor the legislative elections.  The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent observers to monitor the legislative elections. Cameroon’s two main opposition parties – the SDF and UNDP – filed an appeal with the Constitutional Council requesting that the elections be annulled.  President Biya of the RDPC was re-elected with 93 percent of the vote on October 12, 1997.  The presidential elections were boycotted by the main opposition political parties. The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) and IFES refused requests by the government to monitor the presidential election.  President Biya re-appointed Peter Mafany Musonge as prime minister on December 8, 1997.  The U.S. government lifted economic sanctions (restrictions on foreign assistance) against the government of Cameroon in 1998.  Government police killed three individuals in pro-Southern Cameroon separatist protests in Kumbo and Bamenda on October 1, 2001.  Legislative elections were held on June 30 and September 15, 2002, and the RDPC won 149 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly.  The SDF won 22 seats in the National Assembly.  Seydou Diarra, former prime minister of Ivory Coast, monitored the elections on behalf of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June 17-30, 2002. The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent four personnel to “be present” at the elections on June 19-30, 2002.  Opposition political parties claimed election fraud in the legislative elections.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent eight personnel to monitor the registration process in Cameroon from August 31 to September 7, 2004.  President Biya was re-elected with some 71 percent of the vote on October 11, 2004.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent 16 observers and nine staff members headed by Joe Clark of Canada to monitor the presidential election from September 25 to October 16, 2004.  On October 25, 2004, the Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the presidential election.  Legislative elections were held on July 22, 2007, and the RDPC won 153 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly.  The SDF won 16 seats in the National Assembly.  Some 21 Cameroonian government soldiers were killed by militants in the Bakassi peninsula on November 13, 2007.

Crisis Phase (February 23, 2008-present):  Government police suppressed an anti-government protest in Newtown on February 23, 2008, resulting in the death of at least one individual.  At least 40 individuals were killed in anti-government protests in Douala and other cities on February 25-29, 2008.  Government police arrested more than 1,500 individuals.  On April 17, 2008, the National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the presidential term limit.  On April 12, 2008, John Fru Ndi, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), called for a national day of mourning for those killed during the protests and to commemorate the “death of democracy” in Cameroon.  At least three government policemen were killed by militants in the Bakassi peninsula on June 10, 2008.  Government soldiers clashed with militants in the Bakassi peninsula on July 25, 2008, resulting in the deaths of one government soldier and ten militants.  Five individuals, including three government soldiers, were killed by militants near the Bakassi peninsula on November 17, 2010.  One individual was killed by militants in Douala on September 29, 2011.  President Paul Biya was re-elected for a sixth term with 78 percent of the vote on October 9, 2011.  The SDF claimed election fraud and asked the Supreme Court to nullify the results.  On October 21, 2011, the Supreme Court affirmed the results of the presidential election.  The African Union (AU) sent observers led by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali to monitor the presidential election.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent six observers led by Frederick A. Mitchell of the Bahamas to monitor the presidential election.  The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent observers to monitor the presidential election.  The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) sent observers led by Victor Manuel Neto Correia to monitor the presidential election.  President Biya was inaugurated for a sixth term on November 3, 2011.  Cameroon’s first Senatorial elections were held on April 14, 2013, and the RDPC won 56 out of 70 elective seats in the Senate.  The African Union (AU) sent 35 observers led by Edem Kodjo of Togo to monitor the Senatorial elections from April 6 to April 19, 2013.  Legislative elections were held on September 30, 2013, and the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais – RDPC) won 148 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly.  The Social Democratic Front (SDF) won 18 seats in the National Assembly.  The African Union (AU) sent observers led by Azizou El Hadj Issa of Benin to monitor the legislative elections.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent two observers and two staff members led by Irfan Abdool Rahman of Mauritius to monitor the legislative elections from September 23 to October 6, 2013.   The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent observers led by Pascal Couchepin of Switzerland to monitor the legislative elections.  Government troops clashed with gunmen that had attacked a village in eastern Cameroon on November 17, 2013, resulting in the deaths of five gunmen, one government soldier, and one villager.  Government troops clashed with Boko Haram militants near the town of Kousseri on June 1, 2014, resulting in the deaths of some 40 militants.  Government troops clashed with Boko Haram militants in the village of Wambache and one other village in northern Cameroon on June 26, 2014, resulting in the deaths of at least eight militants.  Government troops clashed with Boko Haram militants in the village of Balgaram on July 24, 2014, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers.  Boko Haram militants attacked at least two homes in the village of Kolofata on July 27, 2014, resulting in the kidnapping of the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali.  Seini Boukar Lamine, mayor of the village of Kolofata, and five members of his family were also kidnapped, and at least three individuals were killed in the attacks.  Government security forces rescued the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali from Boko Haram militants on July 29, 2014, resulting in the deaths of some 16 individuals.  Boko Haram militants attacked the village of Zigague in northern Cameroon on August 6, 2014, resulting in the deaths of ten individuals.

[Sources: Africa Diary, May 27-June 2, 1984, August 19-25, 1984, September 2-8, 1984, September 9-15, 1984, October 14-20, 1984; Africa Research Bulletin (ARB), April 1-30, 1975, April 1-30, 1980, June 1-30, 1983, April 1-30, 1984, May 1-31, 1984, December 15, 1987, May 15, 1988; African Union (AU) press release, April 5, 2013; Agence France Press (AFP), February 25, 2008 ; Banks and Muller, 1998, 146-153; Beigbeder, 1994, 282; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) December 8, 1997, October 1, 2001, June 23, 2002, July 1, 2002, July 4, 2002, October 1, 2002, October 15, 2004, October 25, 2004, July 24, 2007, November 14, 2007, November 15, 2007, January 2, 2008, February 28, 2008, February 29, 2008, April 21, 2008, June 10, 2008, July 25, 2008, November 17, 2010, September 29, 2011, October 10, 2011, November 3, 2011, July 27, 2014, July 30, 2014; Commonwealth of Nations (CON) press release, May 7, 1997, October 2, 1997, June 19, 2002, September 1, 2004, October 21, 2004; Commonwealth of Nations (CON) report, October 21, 2004; Degenhardt, 1988, 37-38; Facts on File, January 14-20, 1971; Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), December 31, 1991, January 26, 1996, February 1, 1996, March 4, 1996; Jessup, 1998, 105-106; Keesing’s Record of World Events, January 16-23, 1971, June 4-10, 1973, May 5-11, 1975, June 20, 1980, April 1984, September 1984, July 1988, May 1990, May 1991, October 1991, March 1992, October 1992, November 1992, September 1996, May 1997, October 1997, December 1997; Langer, 1972, 1268; New York Times (NYT), October 14, 1997, February 28, 2008, October 17, 2011, October 21, 2011, July 28, 2014; Reuters, March 5, 2008, April 29, 2013, October 17, 2013, November 17, 2013, June 1, 2014, June 26, 2014, July 27, 2014, July 29, 2014, August 6, 2014; Voice of America (VOA), October 15, 2011.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Konings, Piet and Francis B. Nyamnjoii. 1997. “The Anglophone Problem in Cameroon,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 35 (2), pp. 207-229.