The President of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon advises the Head of State not to yield to the sirens of his colleagues who invite him to run again in 2018. In the interview he gave to La Nouvelle Expression ( LNE) published on December 5, 2017, the Archbishop of Douala also reviews other current topics.
Question: The National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon promised to seize justice to shed light on the death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Balla. How far with the case?
Bishop Kleda: Indeed, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) has lodged a complaint against X. The NECC therefore became a civil party and we requested the services of a panel of four lawyers responsible for following this case. Preliminary investigations are taking place and we hope they will have information that will help us know the truth. This is an opportunity for me to ask anyone with information that can help in this case to work with our lawyers. We trust the justice of our country and hope that our lawyers will work freely to enable them to do their job well. Our wish is that all the elements that were seized by the gendarmerie and the police during the investigations, are presented to our lawyers so that they make their overlapping themselves.
Question: What is your reflection on the stagnation of the Anglophone crisis?
Bishop Kleda: The latest events that have just occurred in these two regions (North-West and South-West) show that the situation is serious enough. The death of civilians, military, police and gendarmes shows that the crisis is far from resolved, it gets bogged down as the days go by. We have the impression that people are organizing themselves into guerrilla action. This is a situation that no one should be indifferent to. Every Cameroonian must really worry about the deterioration of the situation. In my opinion, it is time to get something done, it is time to convene a national base to which all the forces of the nation will take part, in order to find a solution to this problem. We can not continue in this radicalization that we observe on both sides.
Question: Has the Catholic Church been asked for a possible national dialogue on this issue?
Bishop Kleda: To my knowledge, the Catholic Church in Cameroon has not yet been solicited for any mediation. However, at the level of the NECC, in the name of our faith, and in the name of the love we have for our country, we took the initiative to ask our faithful to pray for peace in Cameroon, we organized novenas of prayer throughout our country.
Question: Should the government talk to secessionists?
Bishop Kleda: I have observed that people are very receptive to secessionist discourse. This seems to say that they believe that secessionists will provide solutions to the socio-economic problems that are theirs. As the situation is, we should not exclude them if ever the national dialogue is organized within this framework. In order to find a lasting solution to this crisis, the State should reach out to all its sons, all actors, for a way out of crisis that would relieve everyone.
Question: Are you for or against the debate on the form of the state?
Bishop Kleda: In a dialogue aimed at finding solutions to the problems facing our country today, all issues must be addressed, including the form of the state. It is in this context that the actors could make real decisions about the form of the state that is right for our country at the moment. The form of the state is a dynamic process that can be modified according to evolution and governance. The current form of African states is a subject of debate. Do these different forms inherited from colonization truly meet the development requirements of African countries? What is more important is that our leaders begin a deep reflection on the best way to govern and manage the country.
Question: What can you say to those who burn schools, churches or prevent children from going to school?
Bishop Kleda: Burning churches and schools is far from the solution to the current crisis. Violence engenders only violence and misery. If we start destroying what we have taken the trouble to build for years, we must ask ourselves who will rebuild. I insist that everything starts with dialogue. Let those who burn schools and churches know that the actions they take will not solve the problems. I invite them to calm and the spirit of responsibility.
Question: Motions of support call on President Paul Biya to run in the 2018 presidential election. Is there any sincerity in these motions?
Bishop Kleda: At first, the authors of these motions are sincere because, in reality, they seek to protect their personal interests, they do not want to lose their privileges. On the other hand, if they think about the future of Cameroon, they would hesitate before making such proclamations. I am convinced that these people are very familiar with the real problems of Cameroon today, and at this level they are not sincere. They play a game whose purpose they know. To be honest, these people do not like Cameroon.
Question: Do you have any advice for President Paul Biya regarding the upcoming presidential election?
Kleda: For my part, if President Paul Biya really loves this country, he would rather think of a peaceful transition by passing power to another person, either within his party, the CPDM, or within a party of opposition. I am convinced that if there are free and democratic elections in Cameroon, the truth will be surprising. I insist that if President Paul Biya likes this country, he should rather withdraw than listen to those who ask him to represent himself. There is time for everything. I hope that a council of wise people, a council composed of people who love this country, will be set up to find solutions to all these problems that arise today.