Cameroon: Douala Commercial Bikers Spoiling for a Fight over CFA F 20M Promised Them to Boycott Opposition Protest
Commercial motorbike riders’ syndicates in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala are getting ready for a showdown with the administration of Littoral should the sum of CFA F 20 million (about USD36,000) promised them by the Governor, Ivaha Diboua in exchange for their boycott of the September 22 street protests against President Biya is not paid.
This syndicate was coerced to keep commercial bike riders off the streets in Douala, so they do not participate in nationwide peaceful demonstrations organized by Prof. Maurice Kamto, leader of the Opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) that took place Tuesday, September 22.
On Wednesday, September 23, the motorbike syndicates in the region met and urged Governor Ivaha, to fulfil his own end of the bargain by paying in the CFA F 20 million he promised, averring that they boycotted the September 22 protests aimed at forcing Octogenarian Paul Biya out of office. The bikers were not allowed are to see the Governor, forcing them to threaten street riots if the money was not paid to them and within the agreed time.
Although the office of the Littoral Governor is yet to make a statement on this allegation of a financial promise in exchange for a boycott of the protest march, political observers say it is common knowledge that the Cameroon government uses every means possible, sometimes including financial promises it has no intention to honour, to have its way out of desperate situations.
The Kamto call to massive street demonstrations sent the 38-year-long Biya regime into panic mode, leading authorities to use threats of military brutality and stringent court actions to dissuade the public from participation. The efforts yielded mixed results as thousands of people defied the presence of armed police and military men to go out. in all fronts.
Eyewitnesses told Timescape that on the eve of the demonstration, delegations from the central administration in Yaounde held meetings with local chiefs, civil society actors and commercial motorbike riders’ syndicate for littoral where some brand new motorbikes were distributed to some riders alongside the promise of CFA F 20 million after the confirmation of their collective boycott.
The outcome of those meetings was the issue of multiple press releases from the Chiefs, some civil society organizations, and bike riders’ syndicates, distancing themselves from the Kamto-led protests. Economists in the country estimated that several hundreds of millions in CFA F were sucked out of the state treasury between September 11 to 22, just to foil the planned demonstrations.