Marafa Writes To Biya Again


May 19, 2012



From jail, the former Yaounde regime baron Marafa Hamidou Yaya has written a second missive to President Paul Biya.


Mr President,

You promulgated Law No. 2012/001 of 19 April, 2012 on the electoral code. Permit me, however, raise the shortcomings and omissions contained therein before discussing the electoral code and issues of succession, in order to preserve peace in our country.

I. Shortcomings and Omissions in the Law of19 April 2012

In my capacity as the former Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, I read through this code with keen attention.

I noticed, during the debates in plenary at the National Assembly, the shrewdness of the parliamentarians who stopped this law from being adopted on the sly. They also helped you to avoid committing perjury when they opposed the unconstitutional proposal on the imperative mandate.


On the other hand, the following shortcomings and omissions need to be looked into:


a) Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 70

The receipt issued during registration is a source of conflict. The document does not inspire assurance. It can be duplicated; it can be photocopied and a new one can be made by anyone who wants to do so. Also, voters may, when time comes, brandish several receipts bearing their names or the same receipt issued to several persons. There is need, therefore, to issue voters’ cards immediately after registration on the voters list.


b) Paragraph 3 of Article 75

This article stipulates that “in the event of recompilation, the Managing Director of elections may extend the period … to a time not exceeding three months. In essence, this means that the period could be extended up to the 30th of November.

In this case, the law should adjust the other deadlines relating to this process. Specifically:

– Deadline to forward proceedings of the commissions charged with revising voters’ lists to the divisional branches, slated for 20 October, latest (Article 78 paragraph 1);

– The deadline to forward the divisional temporary voters’ list for posting, slated for 20 October, latest (Article 78 paragraph 2);

– Deadline to forward proceedings of corrections, slated for 10 November, latest (Article 79 paragraph 1);

– Deadline to forward revised voters lists, slated for 10 December, latest (Article 79 paragraph 2);

– Deadline for the publication of the national voters list, slated for 30 December, latest (Article 80).


c) Article 87 paragraph 1

It would be necessary to end electoral campaigns two days to the polls at midnight to enable all stakeholders (especially candidates, political parties, the Administration, ELECAM and local Commissions) to prepare for polling day with serenity.


d) Article 122 paragraph 2

A medical certificate should be one of the documents during the declaration of candidacies to run for President of the Republic.


e) Title VI

Nowhere in the legislation does one find texts on the Council Executive (Mayors and their Deputies), neither on their election nor on the number of Deputies to Mayors. These provisions shall have to be reintroduced.


f) Article 219 paragraph 1

It is necessary to specify that only political parties that took part in the general elections in the Region in question may participate in partial elections, as was the case with the parliamentary election (Article 54 paragraph 4); of municipal councillors (Article 174 paragraph 1) and of general councillors (Article 268 paragraph 3).

II. The Issue About The Electoral Code


On the eve of the 2004 presidential elections, I travelled to the ten (10) Provinces of our country and held public meetings in each provincial capital with all the stakeholders involved in the elections. Political party leaders, including their officials at the grassroots, parliamentarians, municipal councillors, traditional rulers, civil society leaders and, naturally, the press, participated in these meetings which were, at times, stormy.

During these meetings, I collected the list of grievances of our fellow countrymen on the electoral process. These centred, in particular, on improving the legislation on elections and withdrawing the Administration from the process.


In February 2006, I submitted the first draft of an electoral code to you.

In the course of the year 2006, survey missions were sent to some countries and these resulted in the establishment of the Law of 29 December 2006 on the creation of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM).


In February 2008, I submitted to you a final draft of the electoral code while proposing that the Prime Minister should organise consultations with political parties and the civil society, submit the draft electoral code to them so that they could eventually make their input in order to produce a consensual document to be adopted through a referendum.


That is how the National Assembly adopted the law on referendum procedures that was promulgated into law on 13 April, 2010.


Mr President,

Badly organised elections, or elections whose results are contested, are a source of conflict and the disruption of peace in society.

An electoral code should be consensual in order to:

– Encourage massive participation of voters;

– Enable the organisation of free, fair and transparent elections that guarantee the legitimacy of those elected;

– Encourage a culture of accepting results.


This, unfortunately, is not the case with the electoral code promulgated on 19 April, 2012.


On the other hand, you know my reservation concerning the organisation and functioning of ELECAM which I have made known to you several times. We have, all of us, been witnesses to the malfunctioning of this organ as was the case during the last presidential election; a situation that prompted the Administration to retake control of the electoral process at the last moment in a bid to maintain peace in our country.


I insist in saying that, given the way ELECAM is organised and is functioning, it may not succeed to organise legislative and municipal elections. Suggestions for the improvement of its organisation and functioning were made at the right time; these should be considered so as to preserve peace in our country.


Maybe my fears are not founded since legislative and municipal elections have been postponed indefinitely, thereby frustrating our fellow-countrymen of their right to choose their representatives.


And, so, we find ourselves in the following paradox: while countries in deep crises are struggling to organise elections that will take them out of the crises, our country is refraining from organising elections, hence, running the risk of being plunged into a crisis.


III. The Succession Question At The Helm Of The State

On the 3rd of September, 2010, I served you with a note (see appendix here attached) following information I received that you were intending to modify the constitution so as to create the post of Vice President of the Republic with succession right to the highest office of our country.


In this note, I informed you that “the idea of a successor is quite acceptable within a single party system where all the political actors are under the strict obligation to accept the choices of their leader. And, that, even in this situation, difficulties occur, endangering the stability of the State”. What’s more, our country has had this bitter experience.


I suggested that you “reinforce the structures which, when the time comes, shall take care of any possible succession process.”


On the one hand, the dominant political party to which we both adhere “should ensure that the body (Politburo or any other organ) responsible for designating a possible candidate to the highest office of the land in the event of a vacancy is reinforced with people of merit”.


On the other hand, “the constitutional institutions should be put in place, headed by people who hold the State in high esteem (most especially the Constitutional Council and the Presidency of the Senate)”.


Two or three of my close friends to whom I mentioned the above proposals, disapproved my approach to the issue, on the grounds that I could have been the one to be designated.


I replied to them that I had no interest in being appointed President of the Republic.


Indeed, I have a project that gives priority to PEACE and JUSTICE and will enable the building of a society based on confidence.


Other Cameroonians certainly have other projects. I find it natural and wise that when, the time shall come, every aspirant to the highest office in the land, shall present a project, explain it and defend it in front of our fellow-countrymen who, through free and transparent elections, shall choose the person they will want at the helm of the State. The happy beneficiary of their confidence shall, then, enjoy all the necessary legitimacy to implement his or her project during the mandate that shall be bestowed upon him/her.


Mr President,

Cameroonians are a mature people. Allow them to choose their representatives and their leaders in all liberty and transparency. That is the only sure way to ensure a peaceful future for our country.


As far as my imprisonment is concerned, I shall continue to fine-tune my project and shall submit it, any time that it is possible, to the appreciation of our fellow-countrymen whom I am already exhorting to join me in mobilising for a society of confidence.


Yaounde, 13 May 2012

Marafa Hamidou Yaya


Note to the President of the Republic


Kindly pardon me for distracting you by raising the important issue of a possible revision of the Constitution in the near future.


Indeed, I learned that the Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, as well as the Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defence, committed some indiscretions, the former to international journalists during his visit to Brazzaville on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the independence of Congo, and the latter to some friends, on your intention to create the post of Vice President of the Republic, with right of succession to the highest office in the country.


If their revelations turn out to be true, I will humbly make the following reflection on this important question about the life of the nation.


Indeed, ever since you took Cameroon on the road to modernism by making it a democratic and open country, the issue of a possible successor to the President of the Republic has become a disturbing and destabilising factor because it could permanently lead to influence peddling. Besides, the person who shall be chosen shall become a victim of systematic attacks from some of your loyalists and diehard supporters, if not from natives of other tribes, who will become frustrated for not seeing one of theirs designated. All of this may lead to exploiting and paralysing a political system that needs efficiency for the realisation of the great developmental projects you so cherish.


The idea of a successor is quite conceivable in a single party political system that is close, where the political actors are subjected to a strict discipline in accepting their leader’s choices. And that even in a situation like this, difficulties arise that threaten the stability of the country.

On the other hand, it may be more advantageous to strengthen the structures which, at the appointed time, shall, eventually, cater for the succession question. These structures concern the dominant political party which should ensure that the body (Politburo or any other organ) responsible for designating the possible candidate to the highest office of the land, in the event of a vacancy, is reinforced with people of merit. At the same time, constitutional organs should be put in place and people with the interest of the nation at heart heading them (Constitutional Council, Presidency of the Senate).


In a country like ours, this solution, which consists in reinforcing the structures (constitutional organs and the party), shall provide the advantage of eliminating, if not reducing, the succession debate which shall no longer be centred on one person. The Gabonese example, in which you played a great stabilising role, is a good example. Meanwhile, the case of Nigeria where the successor is already known (even though voted on the same ticket like the President of the Republic), carries serious seeds for destabilisation.


Mr President,


My modest contribution also has the advantage of placing the Head of State, and him alone, at the centre of the political system to the very end; all important political actors only obtain consensus around him.


I will be grateful if I am granted the opportunity to discuss and expound on my suggestions during a future audience – whenever the President’s agenda shall permit.


Yaounde, 3rd September 2010

 Marafa Hamidou

Source: The Post