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In Troubled Cameroon, U.S. Envoy Is Accused of Election Meddling

New York Times | When the American ambassador took up his post in Cameroon late last year, he stepped into an increasingly troubled nation, locked in battle against Islamist militants in one part of the country and armed separatists in another.

And then there is the matter of its leader.

Cameroon has not had a new president since Michael Jackson released “Thriller” in 1982.

Under the 36-year leadership of President Paul Biya, the nation has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including killing unarmed protesters, torturing detainees, shutting off the internet and locking up journalists.

Last month, Washington’s ambassador, Peter Henry Barlerin, met with the 85-year-old president, who has taken initial steps to seek re-election in October. He told Mr. Biya that he “should be thinking about his legacy and how he wants to be remembered in the history books,” saying that George Washington and Nelson Mandela were excellent role models.

The remarks caused an uproar among officials in Cameroon and in the local media, which accused him of trying to influence a foreign election. The minister of foreign affairs summoned the ambassador for a scolding. Mr. Barlerin even received death threats.

The ambassador, a career diplomat, noted that his comments were made following a discussion with the president about the need to stop the violence in areas where the military is battling a bloody separatist uprising.

“We do not have a preferred outcome for the election,” Mr. Barlerin said in a recent interview, emphasizing that he has stressed that to government officials. “We want a strong and stable Cameroon.”

The matter seemed to quiet down, temporarily, until late last month when Mr. Barlerin’s photo was plastered across the covers of at least three local newspapers, which accused him of paying nearly $5 million to opposition candidates in the presidential race.

The United States Embassy strongly disputed the claim, releasing a statement that described the story as “entirely false.”

Opposition members also denied the reports and speculated they had been planted by the president’s supporters, who know that the population would be appalled at any foreign attempt to influence elections.

“All this agitation is simply that the officials are looking for the sympathy of the people,” said Hilaire Kamga, one of the candidates running against Mr. Biya.

The controversy stirred by the American ambassador is a sign of just how deeply entrenched Cameroon’s current government is. Critics say his loyalists operate with impunity, creating nothing more than a charade of a democracy.

Cameroon has been accused of abusing human rights as it fights the militant group Boko Haram and tries to stop a secession movement being fought by an estimated 1,000 armed rebels who want to create a new, English-speaking nation they call Ambazonia. That conflict, which some analysts fear could spiral into civil war, already has claimed at least 425 lives, according to Unicef, and is spilling into new territories.

Amnesty International said on Thursday it had gathered “credible evidence” that an assault depicted in a horrifying video, showing the shooting deaths of several women and infants by men in camouflaged uniforms, appears to have been carried out by Cameroonian soldiers battling Boko Haram in the country’s Far North. Cameroon’s military and government officials called it “fake news.”

The storm caused by Mr. Barlerin’s remarks about Mr. Biya’s legacy is not the first time American diplomats have become entangled in election controversy on the continent.

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20 comments

  1. We go cleanse wunna of this evil Army if wunna no comout for Ambaland. Useless people them all. Kill unarmed women and children? Never again in Ambaland.

    Amnesty International said on Thursday it had gathered “credible evidence” that an assault depicted in a horrifying video, showing the shooting deaths of several women and infants by men in camouflaged uniforms, appears to have been carried out by Cameroonian soldiers battling Boko Haram in the country’s Far North.

    • Another video report of LRC`s Best in action released on youtube. Search for [Amnesty International on Cameroon: Credible Evidence Army Responsible for Shocking Atrocities.VIDEO]

    • This looks like the beginning of the end of the Biya regime. Don’t mess with U.S.A. Especially under the Donald. Even France can’t save you boBiya. Alleluia.

    • Propaganda who gives them about USA

  2. Where are all the Mbimvondo apologists? Anyone that still supports Biya needs brain surgery.

  3. is it not naive to accuse america over something they have done,done again and again in different parts of the world.being proactive is the best way people use to defend the capacity of self determination.thinking tragedy before it comes help prevent it.this is woven in what countries call strategy.the world is at war,economic in particular.being surprised when attacked by the enemy mean,we are not conscious.christianity and islam has destroyed our minds with its propaganda about a peaceful world where snakes will play with babies.impossible kikikikiki

  4. Biya’s boiling water can only get hotter. No one but CPDM can win election under Elecam. I don’t know why his supporters are always quick to accuse objectiveness as fraud. When all he has is a hammer (corruption) every thing (law and order) begin to look like a nail.

  5. @ Alamimbu. Surprisingly, Amnesty Does Not Have Any Evidence Against Ambazombia Cannibals, Butchers & Witchcraft. Not Even The Call Of Killing Of ” Francophones” From A Foreign Land. We Are @ War, Just Fight & Forget About Amnesty If You Have Balls.

    • @ Mbamois le Zuandeur, There is no evidence of cannibals because Ambazonians are not cannibals contrary to the claims of the illiterate, Bulu wolowos marrying traitor called Atanga Nji.

      As for evidence of witchcraft (African indigenous ritual practices), these are not considered war crimes last I checked.

      Butchery, even the guys at Amnesty can’t resist the allure of khati khati – they are just humans you know.

      Call of killing Francophones – freedom of speech is not a human rights violation my Bulu friend.

      Since balls is what it takes for Bulus to kill babies and unarmed civilians, we have decided to go our way and leave the ballsfull land of LRC to you Bulu people with balls.

      Stop us if you have what it takes to fight armed men you cockroach.

    • Tchotcho Cyriaque Bityala

      My name is Tchotcho Cyriaque Bityala, Corporal Chef in Cameroon’s military. I enjoy killing babies and unarmed women. I am very proud of my work and recently posted a video on YouTube to demonstrate the good work I do for my country

  6. No, there is no evidence that Cameroon’s men in uniform were involved, not in the incident in the far north nor in the slaughter of five students forcefully pulled out of their hostels in Bambili, nor in the burning of human beings in their homes around the SW and NW where the military occupies every square inch of land.
    The military is merely deployed to observe these happenings.

    And now the last act of the play that calls day night and night day. Elsewhere candidates declare their intention to run for elective office and then campaign to get the people’s vote. In the Golden Triangle it is the people that plead for a candidate to run for office, beg him against his will to run again and again and reluctantly he gives in.

    • What a listening government right?
      He hehehehehe. Francophones can have him, we have had enough and have left.

  7. Can Paul Biya go Campaign in kumba, Buea, Bamenda, Banso, Bello , Nkambew etc .I want to see him travelling across AmbaLand Campaigning if he really believe Cameroon is one and Indivisible!

    • In Cameroon it is hardly the one who goes on the campaign trail that wins; it is he who stays back and uses surrogates for campaign – presidential majority, hidden satellite opposition parties, well-placed civil servants jockeying for position, traditional rulers, ELECAM itself, the National Assembly, the Senate and last but not the least, the Supreme Court whose head has hands tied to the apron strings of the RDPC.

      The only sad note is that neither the old Ni John Fru Ndi nor the new one (also known as Joshua Osih) can see or foresee this.

      • Marxcell (Prof)

        John Dinga:

        Do you have any definition of a rig and fraudulent political system further from that one you just boldly outlined ?…… if the attempt is to further insight of a sad state of the Cameroon political system, it is a veil on at it.

        Please, understand that there is nothing redeeming of repressive and tyrannical government and a rigged political system and politics it espouses under as veil notion of democracy.

        Any government that kills its people or allow them to die regardless of the source of mayhem and especially if it is the very source, is the height of inhumanity.

        Numerous sources of Human Rights as , well as personal accounts of Cameroonian, Cameroon and especially those who govern that country is one of those governments.

  8. He’s doing the right thing but look who he’s talking to how do you expect a fool like Biya to do the right thing?

  9. Killed all ambazonias peoples

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