One of Cameroon’s opposition political parties, MANIDEM, an offshoot of the UPC, is currently going through its worst internal crisis since its legalisation in 1995.
The crisis has divided the party into two warring camps; one headed by the pioneer National President, George Anicet Ekane, and the other headed by current National President, Dieudonné Yebga, both founding members of MANIDEM.
On July 29, 2017, a meeting of the National Coordination of the party held in Mbankomo, Yaounde adopted a resolution suspending Anicet Ekane and three others from the party.
The suspension was to last until the national congress of the party in January 2018.
But Ekane dismissed the decision as a mere bluff and said the group that met in Mbankomo has no legitimacy to suspend him from the party.
He said Yebga was suspended from the post of National President early last month.
The crisis took another dimension on August 1, when the DO for Douala I, Jean Marc Mbarga Ekoa, banned a press conference that was to hold in Douala.
Gendarmes cordoned off the venue to stop anybody from getting in and some irate MANIDEM militants who attempted to force their way were arrested.
The DO said the press conference was a threat to peace and public order.
Yebga had indicated that the press conference was to brief the media and the public at large on the resolutions of the Mbankomo meeting, which Ekane boycotted.
Yebga Accuses Ekane
Yebga, who spoke to reporters away from the press conference venue, accused Ekane of being the brain behind the banning.
But Ekane told reporters that he had no hand in the DO’s decision.
Yebga said Ekane has been acting as a bus driver from the passenger’s seat.
He said Ekane does not want him to have a free hand to run the party as the elected National President.
Yebga further accused Ekane of trying to eject him from the party, and then sell it off to the Biya regime.
“One of the major problems I have been having with Ekane is that he does not accept the idea of the party getting into an alliance with other opposition parties, especially the Municipal and Legislative Elections expected next year. I have been trying to discuss the creation of an alliance with a number of opposition political parties for next year’s elections, and the discussions are progressing. But Ekane has been hostile towards any such alliance.”
Yebga said Ekane is only interested in the party’s participation in Presidential election, because, he has, since the creation of the party, imposed himself as the natural candidate for election.
Party Headquarters Issue
Yebga told reporters that another major problem is the fact that the national headquarters of the party at Bonadibong in Douala I, is in a house that Ekane inherited from the father.
He said Ekane has been exploiting the situation to continuously impose his control over the party.
“Whenever Ekane is angry during a party meeting because his idea is rejected; he jumps up and insults party officials for being ingrates and would demand that everyone should leave his house immediately.”
The conflict, which had quietly been going on for quite some time, went public early last week when the party’s National Communication Secretary, Edimo Kouoh, organised a press conference at the party’s headquarters, purportedly on the socio-economic and political situation in the country, without the knowledge of the National President.
The next day, the Communication Secretary addressed a letter of condolence on behalf of the party to the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defence, following the death of 34 soldiers in the ship wreck off the coast of Debunscha in the Southwest Region.
The National President reacted with a communiqué disassociating the party from the correspondence addressed to the Minister Delegate.
Power Tussle With Successors
The founding members of MANIDEM were all staunch militants of the divided UPC party.
When the party was created, Ekane was designated as first National President.
He stayed in the post unopposed until 2009, when he announced that he wanted to hand over, after 14 years.
The then National Secretary of MANIDEM, Banda Kani, who was seen by many militants as Ekane’s political god-son, became the next President, with Ekane’s apparent manipulation.
Few months later, Banda Kani complained that Ekane had actually not passed over power, and that he still wanted control of the party.
He also accused Ekane of having a secret deal with the Biya regime.
Ekane and Banda engaged in a power tussle and the latter ended up losing his post six months after. He left the party and created his own.
In 2010, one of the founding members of MANIDEM, Pierre Abanda Kpama (now of blessed memory), was elected National President.
But few months after, he too started having problems with Ekane, but decided to allow Ekane to act as party leader.
Abanda Kpama passed away in 2013. In 2014, Yebga was elected National President.
Secret Deal With Biya Regime!
All the three successive leaders of MANIDEM after Ekane, have accused him of having a secret deal with the Biya regime, reason why, they claim, he wants to continue controlling the party.
The attitude of the local administration towards Ekane, has also helped to fuel the allegation of the existence of a secret deal with the Biya regime.
The local administration as well as the Government have persistently addressed all official correspondences and invitations meant for the National President of MANIDEM, to Ekane.
The Post Newspaper