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HRW Urges Cameroon to Lift Ban on Opposition Alliances

HRW Urges Cameroon to Lift Ban on Opposition Alliances

Paru le vendredi, 22 mars 2024 18:18

In a statement published on its website on 21 March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Cameroonian authorities to lift the ban on the political alliances of Jean-Michel Nintcheu and Olivier Bile. "The authorities should immediately lift the ban and allow opposition parties to continue working without harassment," said Carine Kaneza Nantulya (photo), deputy director of the Africa division at HRW, quoted in the press release. On 12 March, the Minister for Territorial Administration (Minat), Paul Atanga Nji, issued a statement declaring that the Alliance politique pour le changement (APC) led by MP Jean-Michel Nintcheu, and the Alliance politique pour la transition (APT) led by Olivier Bile, are "clandestine movements" because they "have no legal existence". Consequently, they "cannot carry out any political activity throughout the national territory," writes the member of the government. In other words, these movements are now banned in the country.

"The government’s move against these coalitions shows how the Cameroonian authorities are moving to close down space for the opposition and for public debate ahead of the 2025 presidential elections," continued the HRW official. The human rights organization believes that opposition groups coordinating their activities and creating alliances should not be considered as clandestine movements. "This coordination should be considered a normal and important feature of the democratic process," argues HRW.

The organization sees this measure by the Minat as an attack on freedom of association and expression. "The government's decision to ban the two political coalitions violates the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the right to participate in political life. These rights are guaranteed under international human rights law including expressly in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which Cameroon has ratified," argues HRW. Paul Biya “should consider his legacy and encourage authorities to facilitate and deliver a credible election process with full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms," suggests Carine Kaneza Nantulya. 

In his statement, Paul Atanga Nji maintains that the APC and APT "are not political parties as per the meaning of the law of 19 December 1990 on political parties". Consequently, he says, any activity carried out by these organizations or any bearing similar names will henceforth be considered as a "casus belli", i.e. an act likely to justify a declaration of war. The government had not yet officially reacted to HRW's statement as at press time. 

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