22 February 2008

Cameroon: Tchiroma Supports Constitutional Amendment

The Chairman of the Cameroon National Salvation Front, CNSF, Issa Tchiroma, has made a sudden U-turn and thrown his full weight behind the ongoing manipulations by the CPDM party to amend Article 6.2 of the Constitution thereby paving the way for a Biya life-time presidency.

The politician and former Minister made known the stance of his party during a press conference at the Yaounde Hilton, February 20.Issa, who under the canopy of the opposition coalition in 2004, castigated the Government as a corrupt regime that should be flushed out, surprised many observers when he said only President Biya can maintain peace in Cameroon and bring salvation to Cameroonians.

The erstwhile critic of the Biya regime made the turnabout when he said Biya wants to make his name in history and needs time to rid the country of corruption, nepotism and laxity in order to quit the stage a clean slate.

He argued that the present constitution is obsolete because it stipulates that in case of a vacancy at the Presidency, presidential election should be organised in 45 days.According to Tchiroma, such a time frame was too limited for the organisation of any credible election. He reviewed both the arguments of the opposition and those of the ruling CPDM party and said he was backing the latter.

Claiming that he has consulted constitutional experts, he said, he stands strongly for the amendment of the Constitution.According to Tchiroma, the amendment of Article 6.2 to delimit the mandate of the Head of State, would bring social peace, cohesion and attract investors.

He argues that any form of change at the helm of the state could stir instability and scare away foreign investors. He held that many people who have embezzled state funds are permanently living under the spectre of change and what is likely to happen at the post-Biya regime.

He said if Article 6.2 is not amended, it would perturb the flow of continuity. Going by him, foreign investors who have invested in the country for a period of 10 years or more, fear that their investments would no longer be safe in the wake of an eventual change of power.

Tchiroma added that Cameroon does not have opposition par excellence, but power-hungry individuals who would just be too happy to plunge the country into civil war. He, however, refuted allegations that he has been bought over by Government to back the controversial amendment bid and sing the praises of Biya.

For one thing, Tchiroma refused to name names when one reporter asked him to name the constitutional experts that his party consulted before backing that amendment.

The press conference was Tchiroma's first outing under the canopy of the CNSF that was created in Garoua last year. He is more of a political harlot, having previously militated in the UNDP and ANDP parties.

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