12 June 2019

Cameroon: Illegal March in Yaounde - Stating Official Facts

A tweet by the Minister of Communication has clarified the situation on figures of arrest of demonstrators in the country.

The battle for figures in Cameroon concerning topical issues at all levels has been fascinating of late. A most recent incident has been the demonstration organised by political party activists which administrative authorities prohibited from taking place in Yaounde on 8 June 2019. Since some of the demonstrators went ahead with their plans in spite of injunctions from the administration, the forces of law and order got to work and dispersed those who went out to march. In the process, arrests were made and several reports have given figures which are nowhere close to the official information.

Consequently, the Minister of Communication, René Emmanuel Sadi, who doubles as Government Spokesperson had to set the records straight. Also, acting in line with the example of the Head of State, President Paul Biya for members of Government to take advantage of modern communication methods to inform the public on burning national issues, Minister Sadi took to the Twitter handle of the Ministry of Communication to send out his message. In addition, the underpinning struggle by some has been to dispute results of the 7 October 2018 Presidential election although the Constitutional Council that has the legal authority to proclaim the winner announced Mr Paul Biya as the victor.

As such, it has become difficult to get across any contrary message to that of the authorised body and it is also understandable that those who want to sway public opinion otherwise should struggle to remain relevant. In the face of such machinations, the Minister of Communication has been upbeat about the official information to counter any attempts to downplay the victory of the Head of State. Thus, on 10 June 2019, Minister René Sadi noted; "illegal march attempts in Cameroon .....

Police arrest 66 persons who claimed no political affiliation. 43 of them have been released. Of the 19 individuals arrested by the Gendarmerie, 11 were released." The figures by the Minister of Communication do point to the fact that those who have other information sources other than the police and the gendarmerie that carried out the arrest should be able to say how they came about their own stories. Otherwise, they would just be out to add to the idea that the social media has come to offer an opportunity for members of the public to be more conscious in dealing with certain situations of general importance

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