Cameroon : Paul Biya’s appointment of Mochiggle Vanigansen as senator revives internal divisions

In a letter addressed to militants, the Shadow Cabinet of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) promises that the party reserves…

In a letter addressed to militants, the Shadow Cabinet of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) promises that the party reserves the right to accept or reject the senatorial seat offered to them by the President of the Republic, Paul Biya.



In the letter, Nguidjol Ngan, who is in charge of media in the Cabinet, said the nomination of Mochiggle Vanigansen, an active SDF activist, as a senator has provoked “a lively debate” within the party.
“We therefore call on all our comrades in the interior as well as those in the Diaspora to remain calm and we reassure them that the official position of our party, the SDF, will be made public in due course,” Nguidjol Ngan wrote in the hope of relieving the pressure.

But all is not so simple. For, this zone of turbulence that the SDF is going through is nothing more than the continuation of the quarrel of chapel that has divided this opposition party for several years already. On the one hand, there is the hard wing, whose face is the deputy Jean Michel Nintcheu. Those who claim to be part of this group within the SDF suspect the leader John Fru Ndi and the first vice-president, Deputy Joshua Osih, of having diluted the influence of the party by surreptitiously moving closer to the ruling party, the Rally for the  CPDM.

It is this hard-line wing that is strongly critical of the appointment of Mochiggle Vanigansen. This is a gift from Paul Biya, which is presented as one of the witnesses of an unassumed convenience between the main leaders of the SDF and the CPDM. This situation has not failed to embarrass the party’s nomenklatura, which has given itself time to reflect before ratifying the appointment of Mochiggle Vanigansen or simply declining the president’s offer.

Mochiggle Vanigansen

The SDF has still not managed to exorcise its old demons. Jean Michel Nintcheu and about twenty other leaders were expelled from the party last February. Tired of being heard, they went to war with the SDF leadership by boycotting a political meeting and taking legal action to reverse a series of decisions taken by John Fru Ndi. But obviously, these expulsions were not enough to demolish the hard wing. It continues to exist to the extent that it is fuelling this ‘heated debate’ over the appointment of Mochiggle Vanigansen.

In the absence of an amputation, can Chairman John Fru Ndi manage to reconcile the two camps? This last hypothesis is far from being possible. The reason is that the SDF leader does not have a neutral position in this dispute. He is in any case presented as the main supporter of a rapprochement with the ruling party. This accusation was reinforced by a letter signed by John Fru Ndi and addressed on June 27 to lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho, who had just refused a position in the Shadow Cabinet. In this letter, the chairman revealed that negotiations with the government for a ‘transitional government’ were underway.

Faced with the outcry raised by this revelation, Adeline Lord Djomgang, the Secretary General of the SDF, quickly took to the stage. In a statement dated June 28, she wrote: “this ‘letter’ is a false document “whose intention is to tarnish the reputation of our party as well as that of some senior officials and to make the public believe that the SDF is in talks to join a government of national unity.

This clarification did not spare John Fru Ndi, especially since concordant indiscretions within the SDF authenticate this letter sent to Felix Agbor Nkongho, which was leaked to the press. This is probably why the SDF’s decision is being scrutinised by the party’s activists and the public. If John Fru Ndi’s party accepts Mochiggle Vanigansen’s nomination, it is likely that the infighting will continue.

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