Says if SCACUF is 99.99%, .01% Still Have a Right to do What They Think
Monday, July 17, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – Boh Herbert, the embattled leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of the Southern Cameroons MoRISC, suddenly finds himself in the minority. He is boxed in a corner, isolated, and distrusted by peers within the struggle. He’s being forsaken by most comrades within his own organization and scorned by a majority Southern Cameroonians who see in SCACUF, a united front. But Herbert isn’t perturbed by any means. Finding himself in this obstinate position, he has chosen to pick up the cause of a select minority in the Southern Cameroons struggle – those who have since opposed the nomination of AyukTabe Julius as Interim President.
It is the rights of this minority he appears, for the most part, to be fiercely defending in this exclusive interview in which he questions the legitimacy of the process that led to the nomination of AyukTabe Julius as Interim leader of the Southern Cameroons.
Herbert isn’t at ease that Tabe’s didn’t emerge through an election – only a handful of some leaders hand picked him in some hotel in Nigeria, he says. Such a platform, he argues, ignored the rights of Southern Cameroonians both home and abroad to participate in the process, the reason why he is bent on conducting an election for an Interim Prime Minister this weekend. Herbert challenges SCACUF in this interview to test the popularity of its leader by nominating him to stand the test of popular opinion in this week’s election which he is organizing. He states passionately and unequivocally too, that only a leader who would have been elected by a majority of Southern Cameroonians would meet the kind of standards that the UN needs in order to grant restoration to the state of Southern Cameroons. It is a most read piece. The interview was conducted on Thursday, July 13, By CHRIS ANU. The audio version has been attached as demanded by Boh Herbert.
Nobody has seen your plan to even think of giving your election the benefit of the doubt!
When I wrote to you saying that I don’t want to be playing up the differences that we may have, we kind of wanted to continue to talk to everybody. I have always thought that there is a possibility for all of us to unite around this election idea. As far as I’m concerned, this is not a MoRISC thing, this is about us changing the game. You know, we still have three people who are still living now who were elected in a conclave like our brother Julius has just been elected. Prof. Ayangwe is alive, Amb. Fossung is alive, Fon Gorji Dinka is alive. All these people are people whom our people elected at some point in a conclave agreeing these where the persons who were going to unite all of us.
Were they actually nominated or elected? I don’t remember any election being conducted for their election.
The process was to name the person and clad him to his position. I was at the second conclave in Nigeria that is the process our people have generally used. But the essential thing that denies us credibility and legitimacy to some extent is the fact that we reduce our people to the small groups of about 50, 60 leaders or representatives of different groups. That’s the type of group that Mr. Biya calls extremists.
And what he is telling the International community is that those leaders have no followers. That they are just a handful of people determined to destabilize the country. The reason we are using an election is not because we want to contest anybody. I will be first to nominate AyukTabe Julius or anybody else because I think that any of our leaders supported by all of us will take us somewhere. Especially if they can turn around and say this is the following that I have with my people and that following is established through a process that is happening now (the planned election).
We can do electronic vote and we can keep that electronic data of how many hundreds of thousands of people or how many millions of people, hopefully, who elect that person. That way, it will be impossible for Mr. Biya to go around telling people that it’s a few extremists who are going around fermenting trouble.
Don’t you think if you had participated in the conclave that elected or nominated/ the Governing Council, you would have put these ideas on the table and expect to have debate over it?
I was at the conclave that held at the end of March closing in the beginning of April. And we sold this idea and everybody bought into it. Which is why when we issued the communique at the beginning of April from the second conclave, we had all agreed that we were going to have elections in the month of May. But then when we left Lagos, some people decided unilaterally that they were going change it and that they were going to start this process of transforming SCACUF into a Gov’t. Which is one of the reasons why I resigned. I said I don’t want to be part of a gov’t, – that we have agreed to give legitimacy to our process.
We, all of us Southern Cameroonians are very convinced about where we want to go. Now we need to convince the International Community and the international community is not going to believe us if a few of us lock ourselves in a
hotel room and speak on the behalf of the rest of us. Because they are making it impossible for our people to demonstrate their support to this struggle. We have to device the instrument by which we will convince the International community that our people are behind us.
But the problem there is that when you insist on this idea of an election, you know as well as I do that there is no mechanism in place. Even the one that you say you have, you haven’t put it out there for people to see and may be give you a benefit of the doubt.
I keep saying, and we said that at the conclave, that the system we have is a system that can’t be stopped. It can’t be stopped necessarily if Mr. Biya takes off the Internet for instance. If they shut down the system from happening, they will not shut it down from our people in the diaspora. They will still be able to vote because the internet will still be active. Though there are a certain number of things in our process that we could use to catch the colonizer with its pants down. There is nothing that is secret about it. We have a nomination process going on now, we are saying anybody with a phone, anybody with an internet connection who is a Southern Cameroonian can vote. That is the system we have developed. The reason we delayed the nomination process was because of the revised roadmap. We were hoping that at the conclave, they will somehow say MoRISC, can you administer the election on behalf of the umbrella group? Or can you join a group of technicians that we may want to constitute into an electoral commission so that you can jointly administer the election? And again, the reason…, let us not satisfy ourselves, we already know and we are totally convinced that we want independence. We need to satisfy the expectations of the Int’l community and disprove Mr. Biya who is telling them that we are a group of small extremists that want to destabilize his country. And that possibility of voting allows us to put in place a leader who will purely speak on our behalf. And I’m saying that it is great that SCACUF and all the main groups are agreed that Julius should be the candidate or should be that person. Now it is time for all of us to say let us go out and vote for him in an election. Let us show to the whole world that this hunger for Independence is something that is real, that it’s something that is shared overwhelmingly by our people.
Are you suggesting that Ayuk Tabe Julius, assuming he were to come out as the nominee of these groups would be the only candidate to stand in the election? Will you be satisfied with that?
No, I’m saying that all of SCACUF has said that ‘this is our person. So the whole thing now will be to organize people to go out there and validate the person by vote. We were hoping that at some point, all of us who are leaders, all of us who have these organizations that have the blessings to be representing our people at the conclave that we cannot take the whole thing hostage. We cannot make ourselves the leaders because someone may be in Kumba right now who can emerge as our leader – we just don’t know. Why don’t we give our people a chance to do that – to vote?
That is a good idea. But the problem there goes back to the election system that you are promoting which is very flawed. It is flawed in the sense that in Cameroon, people have the tendency to have like three or four or five phone numbers. What if someone would go and vote ten times? How do you detect that fraud in your election?
There is no flawless election. There is no election in which fraud is not a possibility. We are debating here in the United States about the influence of Russia over an election and how that influence may have changed significantly the outcome of the election. So there is no perfect system where there will be zero possibility of fraud. The issue of fraud should be whether fraud is to the extent that it will ham the outcome of the election.
But don’t you agree that in this case that will happen? When you have a situation where many are voting and you cannot really control who is voting and how many times each person is voting, don’t you see that affecting the outcome of the result big time?
You know that even if we put down a paper ballot system, we will still not have the control over who is voting. Let me add that we weigh what type of election we say we should offer our people. And one election really offered a possibility for fraud to become beneficial to the fraudsters. The elections, if we had put up a referendum, on whether people want federation with LRC or independence, we were sure LRC will recruit people and will make them vote. They will make as many people as possible to vote in that election to prove that they want us to stay united. But in an election to put in place an autonomous region of SC with its own interim leader, LRC and others have no interest in massive participation. They instead have an interest in discouraging massive participation. Because massive participation shows that our people are massively behind independence.
That is true but that isn’t where I was directing the question because they careless what elections we’re conducting because, in fact, if they have their way they will sabotage the whole thing. But I was talking about the inability to restrict who is voting, how many times they are voting – and of course, there are other problems like who is doing the collation and monitoring because if you have an election, there’ve got to be a nonpartisan committee that monitors that. But all along, it appears that MoRISC is all alone on the table putting this election together and nobody else knows what the process is. To the extent that at the end of the day people will be questioning the criteria used in conducting the exercise. And then the thing becomes illegitimate.
Morisc is not participating in this election. It is doing that as a neutral body with no interest. And we set up from the very beginning, from the very moment that we articulated to our people at the end of last year, that we need not only to set an end date to all of this agitation that we have had for 55 years, we need to set an end date as of first of October and mobilize the people as of that date of the 1st of October. So we also said there are things we need to do to get there – and those things included and election.
Now, you are mentioning the fact that MoRISC is alone. MoRISC is alone because at this point, there are these other groups within SCACUF which have clearly indicated that they are opposed to the idea of an election. The reason they give us for opposing the idea of an election is that it has not been done in revolutions before. But that is not a good enough reason. It will be as if to tell a child that you cannot use the vacuum because my mother always used the broom. The technology today allows us to do things that revolutions before us could not do. And so we are saying, come on and do it. Now, you said a moment ago that you could load up your phone and you could do stuff. We have the nomination process ongoing right now, you yourself, if you want, go in there and nominate somebody and then go back in and try to nominate another one, and you will see what the system will tell you.
My point is that nobody has been made aware of this nominating process you are talking about. And it is not only the nominating process, it also has to do with the voting process – what if I can vote in the actual elections say ten times with different phone numbers?
Let me tell you something, if today we still do not have independence in SC, luckily we already voted for independence, but if we did not have independence in SC, and right now the United Nations wanted us to vote in an election, generally, what will happen will be that they will go in and ask us to come and register and vote. The process will not establish who is a SC, and you can expect that a lot of East Cameroonians will come and vote and Mr. Biya will send a number of his people into Southern Cameroons. The situation where a country is going from colonization
into independence is not a situation where you certify citizenship. You assume as you assume talking to me that I’m a bonafide Southern Cameroonian like I assume for you. I cannot, we cannot, and any one of our organisations cannot determine today that they are the ones that are going to grant Southern Cameroonians citizenship. They don’t have the power to do it. So at this point, we are saying that the people who will want to vote, especially the people in Cameroon where voting can expose you to a lot of danger, the only people who will want to vote will be only people who support our cause.
Presuming that other people will want to go and vote and vote several times is simply not true. Or presuming as I have heard in a voice mail that you could buy ten thousand votes or ten thousand cell numbers for the purposes of perpetuating that fraud that is simply not practicable. And we are looking to send a clear message to the United Nations that our people in their massive numbers have done this. That is why the data that we are collecting is helping us identify and weed out people who want to vote two times. Because the data that you will submit as a voter will be data that we are going to retain even better than paper ballots. We are going to be able to turn in that data to the UN and to anybody else. So whoever emerges from this election will be able to say millions of Southern Cameroonians gave me a mandate to bring their country to restoration. It is different from this story that Mr. Biya is propagating that we are only a bunch of people and that very many of us, including these six groups that went into the conclave which are saying let us find AK47, let us make war. If our groups are people who are saying let us go to war, the UN which is set up to provide world peace and security cannot support groups that are only propagating war. We have to move away from that and embrace the legal diplomatic peaceful method that are available and fulfil the one condition that is laid out very clearly in the UN resolutions about how we can separate from LRC.
LRC will not organize the vote for us. The UN very clearly is unwilling to step in and support us with a vote because first of all Cameroon has to give them green light. So we as the oppressed people have to find a way of imposing on our people and the int’l community the outcome that we look for.
You are so much about democracy, but I do not think that Southern Cameroonians are seeing this as democracy, they see a struggle, – a revolution, not democracy.
Let me tell you, there was a war going on in Yugoslavia when the people went out to vote to pick their leader. There was a war going on between Ethiopia and Eritrea when the people of Eritrea went out to pick their leader. There was a war going on in Southern Sudan when the people of Southern Sudan went out to pick their leader and determined for themselves that they want independence. Even in the middle of war, for a country to be recognized you implement a vote. Even when there is no war – even when the people of SA were totally united around Nelson Mandela and everybody around the world knew that this was the leader of this nation, they needed a vote to move him to the position of President and give him the legitimacy that he finally enjoyed. At this stage, the only thing we need to do is to provide legitimacy for our leader.
Those people were operating from within their borders, but in our case we are not allowed to operate from within our own territory.
No. Remember that the ANC fought plenty of battles outside of their territory and same with the people of South Sudan, and maybe the Eritreans who were living abroad like all of us today. A million Eritreans and Ethiopians were killed in that war. A million South Sudanese were killed in their twenty year war. The situation for people getting out of colonization and getting into independence is never ideal. They were killing millions of Algerians but Algeria voted for independence. We have to find the shortest way to recognition for our country and that calls on us to fulfil conditions that are set by the Int’l community. In 1948 when the Balfour declaration was made creating the
state of Israel, the state of Palestine was supposed to be created among the state of Israel, but because the people of Palestine indicated that the only way they will exist is if they destroyed the state of Israel, until this day, and in spite of occupying their territory, in spite having their own gov’t and their own army, they have still not gained recognition as a state. The people of Somaliland who were ruled by Italy, when they broke out of Mogadishu to create their own independent state, they had been independent or autonomous for over thirty years and had not been recognized by anybody…
So are you really saying that any leader for this struggle must be chosen through an election else he’s illegitimate?
No, what I’m saying is we need to meet the international standard in a resolution that is known to all Southern Cameroonians. What we are seeking to achieve from LRC is separation and UN resolution 1541 is very clear about what will allow us to separate. It has to be the expression of the will of the people, not the expression of the will of their leaders.
I understand that Julius has reached out to you to work together to push the cause. What is your response to him?
We have reached out mutually to each other. I have kept all channels opened. I continue to reach out to my brother Tassang. Even during the period he was leader when there were differences of opinion on how we pursue the struggle. With the election of the President of the Governing Council, Julius contacted me first, that we need to talk. I returned the text saying must willingly. But after a few days and I didn’t hear from him, I wrote out another text that said I am available and I know you are busy, that’s why we could not talk. He returned my text saying that he will make time so that we can talk. I’m hoping that he will do so today. All of us, except those who are opposed to our independence are working together. We are only divided around how to get there. We are all united around the issue of restoration and my hope is that in this pattern of reaching out to everyone, that we can find a way in which we can go beyond what our people are enjoying right now. Our people are enjoying the fact that we have come together as a united front that we are united around the objective that we seek, but that unity around the objective that we seek is the same unity that the people of Palestine have demonstrated. But they are still to meet the Int’l standard set for
them to transform an authority into a state recognized by the int’l community. Our focus must be how to make sure to fulfil the conditions that can make us to be recognized as an independent country. That is why we have been kind of narrowly focused on trying to build in the element of legitimacy and the element that the Int’l community in our opinion is looking for. There may be other ways of doing it, there may be a calendar that is rolled out that says we no longer do the 1st of October, but we do another day. Maybe – and to the extent that all the channels are opened, we are talking with everyone in the hope that we can nail down some workable thing. If that happens, I will be as opened, and MoRISC will be as opened in welcoming everything that other people say. Again, the issue here is not (and I have heard it), about MoRISC laying out something that is totally pulled out from our pocket.
This is what MoRISC was created for. This is why we rolled out the road map, this is why we rallied everyone around the 1st of October for. And we said this is what we were going to do. When MoRISC joined SCACUF, SCACUF said we will take the roadmap and we said great, you implement it. And MoRISC said, from this moment that SCACUF is taking over the roadmap, we are not the umbrella that we will accept an assignment within this movement that allows us to continue to support the way forward. And at that meeting in which we deed that, we had agreed that part of the process will be that in May there will be an election and I continued to explain even at this meeting that we are unlike the other groups. So if MoRISC exist, it is only to implement the road map that we articulated. If that road map is in conflict, that’s why we thought one big group should lead the process.
I’m sure you read the comments that people put out there after your withdrawal from SCACUF and after your announcement to unilaterally conduct an election after the nomination of AyukTabe. Some of your branches have since distanced themselves from you and even most of your Steering Committee members have left because of your resistance to their counsel, particularly about the election thing. When you say MoRISC this, and Morisc that, who is really a member of MoRISC at this moment? People see or hear only Boh Herbert and maybe four or five others? Who is really organizing this election with you?
Well, that’s not true and you keep saying who is doing this with you, continuing to run with the idea that Boh Herbert is doing this all alone.
Yes, I mean, don’t you read the comments on social media after you announced the elections?
Are you asking a question or you speaking as an insider? You can ask your next question and I will answer it. I’m not running away.
No. I’m merely trying to draw your attention to what people are saying about you as I read on social media.
You didn’t reflect, you own what was posted on social media because you treated it as fact by asking who is doing this, who is doing that… when members of my steering committee have resigned because I will not listen to their counsel. That’s absolutely not accurate and that is absolutely false. But that is what our people do and that is the kind of intolerance that exist in this movement right now which consist of – if you don’t drink, smoke and sleep with SCACUF, you are the devil, you are born of Paul Biya, you are taking LRC money, you are a traitor to this
struggle, that is not true. This is intolerance… I say again, if SCACUF is 99.99% of our people, the .01% still have a right to do what they think. If we are building a country that will have freedom and dignity and respect of freedom of expression for everyone, that group of people don’t have to be the majority to speak up. So I own it that we are a small minority, in fact, they have called us in Britain that we are a stupid minority, I accept it. In fact I think it’s a great Christian name for us.
But that stupid minority should have a right to say what they think. And all of us Southern Cameroonians who truly believe in freedom, should uphold the right of that stupid minority to speak up. The 99.99% of the intelligent majority should absolutely demonstrate to us, demonstrate to everybody in this election that they can absolutely wallop any kind of opposition and that we can unify behind our leader. If they do that, I bet you, our people are able to go about and speak with their heads high, they will be able to go everywhere around the world because they have documentation to show that we are not a minority extremists as Mr. Biya is saying. If we do this we will take our struggle forward.
But don’t you see where the people are coming from? That the conclave met and chose a leader and here are you about conducting an election to cause division among the people? Don’t you see that?
The supposition that there has to be two leaders has to be linked to the fact that people are uncertain whether they will get the majority vote coming out. Only people who are concerned about holding on to power or concerned that they could lose the majority position will be worried about an election. In MoRISC, we believe that the people have a right to determine who their leader is even if it is in the middle of a war. If you have a chance to vote, you should vote. Now, some people imagine that there was no possibility to organize this election, I believe they are surprised that the possibility is there and the technology allows us to do it. The best thing is there is therefore a majority that is aligned within SCACUF. Since SCACUF mobilizes the majority, let them line up behind the leaders that have been elected or have been designated as the candidate for SCACUF, let them win this election, let them put this legitimacy behind. But above all, let us demonstrate to the world that the people are behind us. There isn’t only the leaders that met in a conclave. The Catholic Church has instituted the conclave as the place were the cardinals go and choose the Pope and they demonstrate to us by the white smoke that they have found the Pope. No country has adopted that system by meeting together in a small conclave and coming out after smoke and saying that they have chosen a leader. No, all countries are built around a leader who has been elected. We need it because we want everybody to recognize us and respect us as a country. We need to precipitate this to the point we have our elected leader and to the point where our match to Buea on the 1ts of October is not being disturbed by people who are saying that only a few people met in a hotel…and I can tell you that that is what the regime will say.
But the few people who met in a hotel are more than the membership of MoRISC that want to conduct this election.
Oh yeah, but again you are going back to the idea that; you know, the tyranny of the majority denies the rights of the minority. The minority group has a right to say what they say and our people can demonstrate that only a minority believe in what we are doing …I mean, tell me again, and let’s talk about the majority. So we go to the conclave, the
second conclave and we all agree among ourselves leaders, and we put it in paragraph 1, that all of us are going to elect a leader in May. What happened? Who changed that? Was that the majority of the leaders that were part of that conclave or is there a conclave in between?
Who were the people who decided? We just had a conclave right now and you had six branches of SCACUF, SCACUF Canada, and SCACUF USA, SCACUF Europe etc., voting in that place and signing a document. This is what is called stacking the deck against other people. That in itself is ricking the vote. We really have to be careful, even if it is the minority, that minority has a right.
In the new Southern Cameroons, there will have to be an opposition, there will have to be people who don’t agree with the leaders. We must show tolerance towards the people. There will be people who don’t agree with the policy of the day, we must show tolerance.