Open Letter To Biya by Detained Ex-Minister, Marafa Hamidou Yaya

 

 

 

 Mr. President,

 

 On Monday, 16 April, 2012, I was summoned by the Examining Magistrate of the

Mfoundi High Court and sent to the Kondengui Central prison without any trial.

 

 You certainly must have learned that I requested the disqualification of this Magistrate who had come to see me on his own initiative, and, who, pleading, solicited that we “settle” so that he could proceed with the matter in a manner favourable to me. Of course, I turned down his proposal. I gave you an account of the situation, in the hope that, in your capacity as the Head of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, you would take action.

 

 May I remind you, Mr. President, that I am the one who, in a letter addressed to you, dated 7 May, 2008, requested to be heard by the competent judicial authorities in order that I testify and bring to the limelight the truth in this libellous matter about which you know, more than any other person, by dint of the fact that you were updated day by day with information on the acquisition process of Your Plane.

 

 You know very well that my imprisonment has nothing to do with this matter for which I am not in the least guilty, talk less of the crime you instructed that should be attributed to me. I hope future discussions on this matter shall enable our compatriots to know the role played by all the actors, and at all levels. You equally know what I think of some of these spectacular arrests which, moreover, Wikileaks has largely alluded to.

 

 Mr. President, on 6 November, 1982, I ran behind your convoy from “Carrefour Warda” to the “Ecole de Bastos” roundabout. I was then a young senior executive with the National Hydrocarbons Company (SNH). At that time, I was proud of my country. After that, I was seduced by your views and I committed myself, body and soul, behind you, convinced I was participating in the building of a society of peace and justice. I tried to work in this direction to the best of my ability. That you know. Our compatriots shall equally come to know about this.

 

 You gave me the opportunity to serve the State in high positions of responsibility. I served with enthusiasm, commitment and, I modestly believe, with some competence. In the new-year message which I addressed to you last December 30, I stated that I shall continue to serve wherever you shall assign me to contribute in making our country a haven of peace and justice. And, from where I writing now, I can assure you that my enthusiasm and commitment in performing these noble assignments have not waned in the least.

 

 I was your closest collaborator for seventeen (17) years in a row. I started as Special Adviser, then, was appointed Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic and, finally, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, in which capacity I served for almost a decade.

 

 I served you with all loyalty, sincerity and without prejudice. You are well aware that, for all these years, I always refused to play the sycophant. (For example, I always refused to be associated with the razzmatazz of the different publications of “The People’s Call”). I always preferred to maintain a certain liberty that enabled me to proffer advice, with an independent mind, that enabled you to pilot the affairs of State in the best interest of our country.

 

 It wasn’t an easy posture for me, in an environment and context like ours, considering that I was not one of your close and long-standing friends, neither was I from the same cultural background as you. However, I had the impression that, even if this position was sometimes an embarrassment to you, it was, after all, appreciated by you, considering the exceptional longevity and even the depth of our collaboration.

 

 My independence of mind had pushed me to tell you, after the 2004 Presidential election, that that seven-year term should be the last for you and that we should all mobilise our efforts towards the success of your “greater achievements” so that your exit from the political scene would be done with pomp and fanfare, and that you would enjoy a well-deserved retirement within the country.

 

 Was this a crime against His majesty? It possibly was! However, I was sincerely expressing what I thought at that time to be in your best interest and in the interest of our country. I was convinced, at that time, that going in for another term, would be too much. As shall be seen, my harassment and persecution dates as far back as then. Today, maybe I am paying the price of my level-headed frankness.

 

 This independence also led me to express my sincere opinion as illustrated in the following three examples regarding the Government of the Republic:

 

 After the formation of the Government following the 2004 Presidential election, you granted me an audience in the course of which you asked what people were saying about the Government.

 

 I replied that people thought that, with a total number of sixty-five (65) Ministers and related posts, the Government was overstaffed and would not be efficient.

 

 Between embarrassment and anger, you spoke to me in these terms: “Mr. Minister of State, how many of you are ministers in this government? Maybe ten (10) or fifteen (15) at the most. The rest are civil servants to whom I have given the title.”

 

 I replied: “… that may be true, Mr. President. The problem is that these civil servants consider themselves Ministers”.

 

 Our dialogue on the topic ended on that note.

 

 On a similar topic, on the eve of a cabinet reshuffle, I was privileged, during an audience you granted me, to give my impressions about a fellow countryman. I told you that the gentleman did not deserve to be in the Government of the Republic. You developed arguments which convinced me that you had already made your decision. I then told you: “… Mr. President, in case you appoint him to join the Government of the Republic, don’t, for any reason, confide him with a Ministry”. We know what ensued.

 

 Lastly, after the formation of the Government in which Mr. Issa Tchiroma became a Minister (to thwart my ambitions, according to some people), you granted me an audience during which you asked me what people were thinking of the new Government. I replied to you, without mincing words, that Issa Tchiroma does not deserve a place in the Government of the Republic. You and I, including others (Tchiroma included), know what I am alluding to. In addition, I told you that I will never collaborate with him.

 

 Till date, people think that our “animosity” is political for we are adversaries in the same constituency. This has nothing to do with that, and the future will prove it.

 

 Mr. President, when my persecution began, I treated with indifference the malicious gossip about my disloyalty to you and abstained from bothering you about it. However, when your entourage joined the bandwagon, I thought it my duty each time to open up to you.

 

 Hence, when, in November 2007, the Divisional Officer for Mfoundi was asked to “extend the administrative protective custody by fifteen (15) days renewable” regarding twenty (20) people of whom eighteen (18) were military personnel of diverse ranks, I instructed the Governor of the Centre Province and the Divisional Officer for Mfoundi not to execute the order but to rather conform strictly to the provisions of the law. I made a written report of this to you on 21 November, 2007. These individuals were liberated a few months later on your instructions.

 

 A few days after the Ministry of Territorial Administration refused to approve of this travesty of justice, I was to learn that it was reported to you that the persons concerned were my accomplices in a plot to destabilise the institutions of the Republic.

 

 Confronted with this extremely serious accusation and faced with the recurrence of systematically negative reports sent to you regarding my person by some organisations and of which you made no mention to me, I had to heed to one of the multiple job offers that I regularly received at the international level. I was hoping that my departure would help preserve the quality of relationships I had nurtured with you. I informed you of this as well as of my wish to leave the Government during an audience on 30 November 2007. You explained that you still needed me and that you still had full confidence in me.

 

 I must, however, remind you of certain issues, among others:

 

 After the February 2008 strikes, negative reports on me intensified. According to my detractors, my constant refusal to forbid or seize newspapers and my manner of approaching problems, which consisted in avoiding exaggerated and unnecessarily violent methods, as well as systematic repression, were sufficient proofs of my disloyalty to you. Again, in a note dated 5 March 2008, I reminded you that the ministry I was heading was so delicate to be led by somebody whom you don’t trust.

 

 I also took advantage of this note to draw your attention to the incestuous relationship that could develop between the State and the CPDM party based on a letter written by the Minister of Justice to the Secretary General of this party concerning me.

 

 In a fake report dated 24 July 2008, Honourable Mvondo Assam, Vice President of the Defence and Security Commission at the National Assembly and also your nephew, referring to “previous different reports”, also drew your attention to “an ambition of great national destiny” which is urging me on as well as my “strategy to seize power”.

 

 I wrote to you on 17 September 2008 to “kindly request for the opening of an inquiry to investigate these serious accusations”.

 

 During a later audience, I mentioned the need to carry out this inquiry; you told me that your nephew does not know what he is doing. You warmly renewed your confidence in me and asked me not to pay attention to this incident.

 

 I thanked you and also told you that if Honourable Mvondo Assam does not know what he is doing, then, he should not occupy such a delicate post at the National Assembly.

 

 In February 2010, I was forbidden to leave the national territory. This illegal decision was made public in an impolite manner while I was in Bertoua presiding over the joint commission on security between Cameroon and the Central African Republic; I was leading a Cameroonian delegation of five (5) members of Government in discussions with seven (7) ministers of the Central African Republic. I faced my responsibilities with stoicism.

 

 Upon returning to Yaounde, I requested for an audience with you during which I again tendered my resignation. On this occasion, I once more underscored the urgent need to appoint as Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, somebody in whom you are not only confident, but who will be allowed to work with serenity. You again refused my resignation and renewed your confidence in me.

 

 Prior to inviting the electorate to the Presidential election last October 9, you caused me to be received by the Director of the Civil Cabinet. The first of its kind! He made me to understand that he was receiving me on your behalf and that you wanted to know if I was going to stand against you in that election. I was shocked, for, by so doing, you were giving credence to the rumour that you had been severally served that I had created a clandestine political party.

 

 I said to the Director of the Civil Cabinet to tell you that I was offended by both the message and the manner in which it was served. In addition, I told him to reassure you that, for the sake of responsibility and the need to avoid any unwanted crisis, I shall perform all my duties within this delicate period, during and after the election, to ensure the preservation of peace in our country. And also that, after this election, on account of the continual dwindling of your confidence for almost seven (7) years leading to its complete loss, I no longer intended to continue in Government.

 

 I informed people close to me of this offence and of my decision not to feature in the Government after the Presidential election.

 

 At the end of the declaration of candidacies, discovering that I didn’t declare mine, the Director of the Civil Cabinet again invited me to tell me not to over-interpret your message, that you no longer think of it and that you were going to invite me soon to dispel all misunderstandings. I replied to him that I was not seeking for any audience and that my decision not to be part of the Government after the Presidential election was nonnegotiable. At that time, I had weighed the full impact of these words by Fénelon to Louis XIV: “You are born, Sir, upright and fair-minded, but those who raised you have given you nothing but distrust as the science of governance”. 

 

 After my departure from Government, a certain press, furious and under somebody’s command, started preparing public opinion (as is now customary) for my future imprisonment while, in passing, treating the interests of our country with disdain.

 

 Hence, the world was to learn that I am heading an army of 6.000 rebel soldiers!  Till date, I have not been interrogated on this clear desire to destabilise the country which would have been proven as false. To the best of my knowledge, those who published these untruths have not been questioned either. One would have contented himself with just saying that the dirty words are vying for a place with stupidity were it not that it is our country that is paying the price for this pre-revolt picture.

 

 In like manner, there is this obsession to link me with France whereas it is about Cameroon! Security reports have been reaching you on how the French Ambassador in Yaounde is fond of visiting me in hiding, in a cheap car, for us to draw up plans to destabilise our country. This is how in the same manner information is disseminated to the public on my alleged relationship with a great French business magnate who often visited me clandestinely in Garoua for the same purpose. Have the frontiers of our country become so porous that people can penetrate without a visa or cause aircrafts to land without prior authorisation to fly over the territory?

 

 Mr. President,

 

 You know me very well. I neither conceal my opinions nor my activities. You, therefore, understand why, having found my freedom of speech and no longer bound by any obligation of solidarity or of restriction, I can now discuss, exchange and share with all our compatriots my ideas and reflections hitherto exclusively reserved for you, or which I did not develop during meetings behind closed doors. These ideas and reflections are particularly on peace and justice.

 

 And before I end, permit me to assure you that from my prison cell, I harbour neither hatred nor regrets, and that I am neither melancholic nor bitter. Particularly, I have no instinct for suicide. If anything were to happen to me inadvertently, it would neither be through my doing nor through my meals that I have caused to be served by my family. Although I am not particularly afraid of death, I would like that if this unfortunate event were to occur, that the responsibility be fully established.

 

TRANSLATION FROM FRENCH TO ENGLISH: THE POST

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