Cameroon: A Precious Asset to Consolidate

One of the separatist fighting groups, the Ambazonia Defense Forces, claims to have 1,500 active soldiers spread over more than 20 camps but appear to have few modern assault rifles.

The October 07 Presidential election is gone past and Cameroonians at various stages are now making their assessments. As many must have observed, this was an election full of peculiarities. Starting from the campaign period cutting through vote casting to the proclamation of results, the election was incidentally marked by growing anxiety flowing through the Cameroonian people to the political actors themselves.

It was an election in which Cameroonians demonstrated a lot of maturity, an aspect that was highly appreciated even by friendly nations. The 2019 Presidential election will be remembered as one that saw candidates crisscross almost all the nooks and crannies of the national triangle.

The population saw candidates parade the streets in cities with hired 70-seater buses; some on motorbikes, others in taxi cabs and yet many others on foot moving from one quarter to the other in what they qualified as door-todoor campaign. What they were telling potential voters is another issue. The two weeks of campaign in particular ushered in and built up a very important and historically challenging component of democracy; freedom of speech. Defi ned generally as the power or right to express one's opinion without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty, the nation was perplexed to hear what the Presidential candidates and their followers could say and say at will without any fear of whatever consequences that could ignite.

As the saying goes, many were extremely careful even though not all, not to step on the toe of others by way of insults. And if it happened that they must use language that was closer to insult, they were heard tackling acts committed and not necessarily insulting the actors themselves. Cameroonians had a taste of what freedom of speech is all about. Freedom of expression, it should be recalled is a fundamental human right. It reinforces all other human rights, allowing society to develop and progress.

The ability to express one's opinion and speak freely is essential to bring about change in society. The 2019 Presidential election, one must be honest enough to accept, has brought in an iota of progress in Cameroon's teething democracy. Some people may be wondering why freedom of speech is being hailed as a remarkable aspect portraying an advancement in the country's democracy. If freedom of expression could be all that make for democracy to be complete, one can say with confidence that Cameroon has reached the democratic destination.

Unfortunately, many other afactors continue to hang over the whole process. That said, freedom of speech remains an important part of democracy because it protects minorities rights to speak in political participation. Freedom of speech puts restrictions on tyranny of the majority who are required to sacrifice their own time in order to permit minority opposition to express their views and ideas. Apart from the campaigns,

Cameroonians were pleased to witness the open manifestation of freedom in the Constitutional Court for three good days of ruling on petitions tabled by some candidates. Things that could not be said in public for fear of being arrested, gagged or ostracized were dissected before the President of the Constitutional Court. Those who said what they said both in court and during campaigns are moving freely, an indication of a democracy that is struggling to take roots.

It is the wish of everyone that other components of democracy take the same direction, notably good laws that keep all competitors at par. This wish was expressed freely by many candidates especially those of the opposition during their campaign and continues to be the wish of all Cameroonians.

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