Cameroon: Surprised Guests in Church

The solemn ceremony at the Constitutional Council on 22 October, 2018 to proclaim results of the 7 October presidential poll has unfortunately not been to the taste of some, especially supporters of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM party. As such, the party's followers have earmarked a series of demonstrations to mark their disapproval of the election outcome. However, the party's decision has to be in accordance with the law which requires prior authorisation for such manifestations to take place.

Looking at the current situation in the country, it will be difficult to imagine any local administrator permit moves that could jeopardise public order. Yet, Douala and Yaounde over the weekend saw a number of attempts to go back to the election results even when public attention is now on the forthcoming swearing-in ceremony. Surprising, placard-carrying individuals found themselves doing so in front of the Cathedral down town Yaounde.

Faced with the irate political party supporters, the custodian of the site, the Archbishop of Yaounde, Jean Mbarga had to express shock and indignation at the choice for a political manifestation. He even talked of profanation, meaning the political meeting was instead on holy ground.

With the numerous warnings by the Minister of Territorial Administration against any attempt to disturb public peace because of the presidential election which government considers the process over; the risk of faithful coming out of Church and being caught in a political cross-fire can be great. Onlookers at the Yaounde Central Post Office must have been wondering why people should choose to express their political anger in front of a church door.

Maybe they wanted some help! But since the Church accepts everybody, it will be surprising to go there hoping to get any favourable response given that church ground is open to all. Even more, government sees such a move as provocation. Caught between profanation and provocation, any effort to protest election results now could be an uncalculated risk for the individuals concerned and even for the country.

Cameroon already has several issues to tackle. Peace and development which all those who created political parties have been promising to Cameroonians need an atmosphere that is free from tension and conflict. Confronting the Church and the State under such circumstances can only be counter-productive for the country.

In addition, clear indications from the Minister of Territorial Administration that, "all attempts to disrupt public order will be handled with firmness" are enough for political leaders to urge their supporters to stay back from the streets, let alone taking their party opinion to church soil.

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