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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07YAOUNDE904
2007-07-20 16:51:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Yaounde
Cable title:  

CAMEROON ELECTIONS: THE NEXUS BETWEEN CORRUPTION

Tags:   KCOR  PGOV  PREL  PHUM  PINR  EAID  CM 
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VZCZCXRO8491
RR RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHYD #0904/01 2011651
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201651Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7960
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YAOUNDE 000904 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C, INL/C/CP AND EB
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA ACTION OFFICERS
EUCOM FOR J5-1 AFRICA DIVISION AND POLAD YATES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2017
TAGS: KCOR PGOV PREL PHUM PINR EAID CM
SUBJECT: CAMEROON ELECTIONS: THE NEXUS BETWEEN CORRUPTION
AND DEMOCRACY

REF: YAOUNDE 1883

Classified By: Acting Pol/Econ Chief Tad Brown for reasons 1.4 b and d.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YAOUNDE 000904

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C, INL/C/CP AND EB
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA ACTION OFFICERS
EUCOM FOR J5-1 AFRICA DIVISION AND POLAD YATES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2017
TAGS: KCOR PGOV PREL PHUM PINR EAID CM
SUBJECT: CAMEROON ELECTIONS: THE NEXUS BETWEEN CORRUPTION
AND DEMOCRACY

REF: YAOUNDE 1883

Classified By: Acting Pol/Econ Chief Tad Brown for reasons 1.4 b and d.


1. (C) Summary. High-level corruption is intrinsic to
democratic politics in Cameroon. With Cameroonians going to
the polls on July 22, critical USG interests in improving
governance and democratic processes are affected by the nexus
between grand corruption and the financing of political party
operations, a connection that undermines both participatory
politics and the country's development. Although the problem
remains widespread and deeply corrosive, the political
conversation is evolving, albeit slowly, towards a
condemnation of the corruption-democracy nexus and a search
for alternatives. This evolution is not, however,
inevitable, and continued pressure on the anti-corruption
agenda will be neccessary if it is to succeed. End summary.


2. (SBU) With national parliamentary and municipal
elections on July 22, the functioning of Cameroon's political
system has been increasingly in the public eye. Although
media coverage has been muted and generally thin on probing
analysis, the private press has revealed some disturbing
illustrations of the central role that party money plays in
shaping the political discourse.

--------------
A Penny for your Vote?
--------------


3. (U) The incumbent speaker of the National Assembly
(Parliament), Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, publicly pledged 100,000
CFA (about $200) to whichever CPDM constituencies in his
region were able to deliver 100 percent support for the CPDM
candidates. His statement met with condemnation in the press
and calls from the Catholic Church that he be prosecuted for
violating electoral law, which prohibits offering financial

reward in exchange for votes.

--------------
Cash for Conversion
--------------


4. (U) Seeking to erode support for the opposition Social
Democratic Front (SDF) in the Northwest Province it
dominates, the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement
(CPDM) hosted a rally where party leaders bestowed 1 million
CFA (about $2,000) on a converted SDF activist who had been
injured in a political battle many years ago. In case the
gesture was not clear enough, the CPDM official asserted this
action as evidence that the CPDM "takes care" of its
supporters.

--------------
Fortunes to be Made in Party Politics
--------------


5. (C) In a March 27 meeting with the Ambassador,
Transparency International Cameroon President Charles Nguini
explained that he had turned down a seat on the CPDM's
dispute resolution committee (that adjudicates disputes in
party offices and nominations) that he believes was offered
to him because of the lucrative income to be made from party
hopefuls trying to secure a position.

--------------
Robbing Cameroon to Pay the CPDM
--------------


6. (C) A grand-scale corruption trial that resulted in a
50-year jail sentence for the former manager of a parastatal
corporation (reftel) revealed that substantial amounts of the
funds he embezzled (he was convicted for personally pocketing
$22 million, but the total losses exceeded $100 million) were
destined for CPDM party activities. In 2004, for example,
the parastatal's records show that $10,000 was transferred
from the agency's coffers to Biya's 2004 presidential
campaign. In the previous year, the parastatal contributed
$240,000 to the National Day celebrations, which are
practically indistinguishable from CPDM rallies. The public
trial provided unprecedented visibility into the relationship
between grand corruption and political operations, but
anecdotal evidence suggests that the pilfering of parastatal
accounts for party (and personal) purposes is the rule, not
the exception.


YAOUNDE 00000904 002 OF 002


--------------
Reason for Hope, However Faint
--------------


7. (SBU) There have been, however, some positive signs that
the political climate is starting to cool towards such
illicit financial relationships. Party activists have
complained to Embassy contacts that their activities during
this election cycle have stalled for want of cash, explaining
that parastatal heads are more stingy with government funds
for fear that their largesse may come to haunt them if Biya
expands his anti-corruption campaign.


8. (SBU) In addition, the implementation of the Cameroonian
law (#2000/15) providing public funding of political party
operations and campaigns (and outlawing contributions from
abroad) was improved this year. About $3 million was
distributed to 45 political parties contesting the elections
(based on previous election results and the number of seats
contested in the current election). The breakdown was not
made public, but the CPDM would have received the vast
majority of the funds. The SDF announced that it was
promised about $440,000 in total, including around $10,000
per parliamentary race it is contesting. No one seems to
believe this public finance scheme can resolve the current
system, but it has sparked discussion about possible
alternatives.

--------------
Comment: US Pressure Helps Break the Fix
--------------


9. (C) The nexus between corruption and political activity
functions like a vicious circle: campaigns unhindered by
political agendas or platforms attract voters through
material incentives (food, drink, farm implements, party
paraphernalia, and cash), and public officials owe their
position to CPDM party patronage. From working level
accountants to the highest echelons of government power,
these officials recognize that their positions are dependent
on the CPDM retaining power. Even the most starry-eyed CPDM
stalwart would acknowledge that the CPDM would not fare so
well without such an overwhelming financial advantage,
providing a contrary incentive to turn off the official
embezzlement that feeds CPDM party coffers.


10. (C) The good news about Cameroon's corrupted political
system is that it cannot get much worse and, in fact, there
are signs that the times may have begun to change, albeit at
a glacial pace. In the current environment of
anti-corruption crusading, the parties' fund-raisers may need
to consider alternate sources for campaign funding, like
higher party dues, or campaign methods less dependent on
large cash outlays. Cameroon's media has yet to adequately
fulfill its role in revealing the corrosive effects of the
current system, and press vigilance will be necessary to any
solution. We are optimistic that the trend towards greater
transparency will continue, but recognize the need to keep up
the pressure, in public and in private, for cleaner
governance. End comment.
NELSON