The Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement, CPDM, bigwigs of the Southwest Region, on Wednesday, October 3, tricked the population and separatist fighters to hold a rally at the Buea Independence Square, by propagating a false news that the gathering will be graced by the presence of CPDM Presidential candidate, Paul Biya.
The occasion was later chaired by the Chairman of the Southwest Regional CPDM Campaign Co-ordination Commission, RCCC, Peter Mafany Musonge. The gathering comprised CPDM militants, a majority of who were ferried in from Douala, Yaounde, to add to some from Limbe, to swell the gathering for the camera, since tens of thousands of inhabitants had fled from Buea, due to military brutality in the ongoing Anglophone Crisis.
Addressing the rally, Musonge mocked opposition parties, asking why they have not shown up in the Region to campaign, like the CPDM.
“The campaign message to the electorate has, so far, been straight forward and convincing. It is only our candidate who has the force of experience. No body, I mean, no body, can challenge our candidate in the Presidential race, because, experience counts in this business,” Musonge declared to the hired crowd.
He lauded Biya for bringing socio-economic development, for developing most parts of the Southwest. He blamed the crisis for halting the realisation of some of the projects that were ongoing in the Region. He lauded Biya, saying that he is the only candidate who can address the crisis facing the Region. Musonge further by stated that: “None of the other candidates has a better plan for this Region; by the way, where are they since the campaign began? Have you seen them…?” (crowd yells; No!) (Musonge giggles). “They know they have lost the race in this Region. As they say in French, il n’a pas match.”
Mayor Ekema ‘Intercedes’ For Separatist Fighters
In his speech at the rally, the Mayor of Buea, Patrick Ekema Esunge, said he was calling on people to withdraw from activist groups and to join the rest of them.
“We cannot, in any circumstance, disagree that this separatists and internally displaced people are not related to us in one way or the other. Consequently, it is incumbent on us as officials of our great national party, to take our responsibilities in reuniting our families.
“On behalf of the population of these Regions, and in my capacity as elected Mayor of the regional capital of the Southwest, I humbly submit to the Head of State to pardon our brothers and sisters for demonstrating deviant behaviour. As father of the nation, find a place in your heart to forgive us, as the father did to the prodigal son,” Ekema intimated.
Rented, Transported Crowd
One of the significant aspects of the rally was the turnout, with participants who filled the main grandstand and part of the old one. Though stories had emerged faulting the CPDM bigwigs for choosing to rather hire militants from Douala and Yaounde and a few others from Limbe, the allegations were only confirmed when, after the rally, dozens of 70-seater buses surfaced from the Gendarmerie Legion area, opposite the Buea Council premises, and the hundreds of CPDM supporters jumped on board and took their seats on the buses with number plates indicating that they were from the Littoral and Centre Regions, with most of their occupants speaking French. They also enjoyed wellbeing from the large contingents of soldiers drafted to ensure security at the rally.
The rented militants had mostly sat and observed, and from time to time, joined in re-echoing party slogans when a speaker needed to create a warm atmosphere in the tense Buea. In the crowd, only a handful were from Buea, and they could be seen clamouring and exchanging bitter words over banknotes handed to them at the premises of the Buea Council complex, while the hired militants in their hundreds quietly entered their buses and observed from within.
Meanwhile, in Buea, most of those left in the deserted quarters stayed home.
It could be observed that there were at least 10, 70 seater buses, two 30 seater and two 19 seater buses that transported the rented militants to and from Buea.
Trick To Rally
Prior to the holding of the rally, CPDM bigwigs and local administrators had propagated the ‘fake news’ that the Head of State and CPDM flag bearer was going to chair occasion. With the information and in anticipation of the level of security reinforcement that would come with such a high profile personality, Southern Cameroons [Ambazonia] activists issued caution to the armed fighters on the ground to stand-down and not engage in any confrontations, warning that they would be no match for the Presidential Guard, GP.
Thus, the fighters did not make any move against the rally. On the day of the rally, some natives started asked questions as to whether President Paul Biya would really come, given that just normal soldiers were seen on the streets.
It was later rumoured that instead of President Biya, the Secretary General of the CPDM, Jean Nkuete, will be the person to preside over the meeting. Musonge later showed up and chaired the gathering.