This is an account by my friend and candidate for the presidency of Cameroon, Kah Walla:
Kah Walla, president of the Cameroon People’s Party and candidate for the presidential elections 2011 was abducted from the Mont Febe Hotel in Yaound at about 11:15 a.m. on May 20th. The following is a step-by-step account.
11:15 a.m. – Ms. Kah Walla leaves her hotel room and heads to the elevators on the 5th floor of the Mont Febe Hotel. She is met by 2 gentlemen who identify themselves as policemen and ask her to follow them. The CPP President declines and asks why. The policemen reply that they are following instructions and cannot give further information. They physically bar her from going toward the elevators and ask for her telephones. Ms. Walla refuses. She follows the policemen into the elevator and to the hotel lobby.
In the lobby where hotel staff have gathered, Ms. Walla announces to them that the men with her are policemen and are taking her away against her will and to a destination unknown to her.
11:45 a.m. Presidential Candidate Kah Walla is taken to a Toyota Prado. The car has no license plates. Only a red sticker in the upper right-hand corner of the vehicle gives an indication of where the vehicle and the men in it are from. The sticker reads “Passe Spciale PRC”. PRC is the abbreviation for Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon. In the car are 4 men. A driver, a leader in the front seat, one man on the left and one man on the right. Candidate Wallais held hostage in the middle.An invisible bossis obviously directing this entire operation. Every move is reported to him. Phones ring in the car every 2 minutes as he gives instructions. After driving for about 1 km, the invisible man on the phone calls and gives an order.
The driver turns the car around and goes back to the hotel.Once again they ask for her phones. She refuses. They are visibly disturbed. They concert outside the car and make more phone calls. An order is given. The man on the right grabs Ms. Walla’s handbag forcibly. They insist on searching the bag in front of her. They confiscate 1 Nokia phone, 1 Blackberry, 1Sony camera, 1 business card holder, documents of hers.
12:20 p.m. The car now takes off. Ms. Walla has no idea where she is being taken. As they reach the outskirts of Yaounde, she wonders out loud. “I hope you are not going to drop me off in the middle of the forest” (This has been regular practice of the police with some opposition leaders). Her captors chuckle. “Madam President, we will give you only treatment that your rank deserves”. The drive continues.
After about an hour they ask to search her small suitcase. She refuses. “Why don’t you make this easy for us? Please don’t be difficult. We have a lot of respect for you. We do not want to do things without your consent”. Kah Walla is outraged “Make things difficult for YOU? You kidnap me, hold me hostage in a vehicle, are taking me to an unknown destination and I am making life difficult for you?”. They are immediately apologetic. Clearly these policemen have very paradoxal instructions. Kidnap the president of a political party and candidate for the presidential elections, but do so very politely. Paul Biya once said “Cameroon is Cameroon”. Kah Walla was living it. Here is absolute barbary being carried out with the utmost politeness. Despite her refusal, they do eventually search her suitcase. Telling her they are looking for flyers (these are often used in Cameroon for a political call to action, public demonstrations, strikes, etc.). They have the decency to look abashed when they find none.
2:30 p.m. – Arrival in Douala. The men ask Ms. Walla where she lives. She directs them. They drop her in front of her gate, carry her bags out of the car and each one proceeds to come and shake her hand and greet Madam La Presidente. Had this not been a kidnapping, you would have mistaken them for gentlemen.
3:00 p.m. No time to digest being kidnapped. Ms Walla arrives inthe party office and meets 6 party members in full action.She is informed that 3 members of the CPP have been arrested in Douala. Their crime? They were wearing CPP t-shirts and handing out flyers describing the party’s political program and giving background information on Candidate Walla (so this is what all the confusion about flyers was about). Kah Walla heads to the Brigade de Gendarmerie, Port Sud. No one can provide information about why these party members have been arrested. All of this to manage, and she has no phones.
In Dschang the party president speaks to a young woman, party member who is being detained by police. She too is being questioned about wearing a party t-shirt and distributing party flyers. Evidently in Paul Biyas Cameroon, on National Day, only certain parties have the right to public demonstration. The young lady in Dschang is tough, resolute. She is not being detained, just kept for questioning. The focus is on Douala.
The gendarmes say they are acting on instructions from administrative authorities. Evidently this is a day for “instructions”. A couple of hours are spent trying to locate the Governor, the highestadministrative authority of the region. When he is finally located Ms. Walla is informed Governor Fai Yengo cannot receive her. He is busy. Receiving guests for the National Day celebration. Oh yes, of course. This is Cameroon’s National Day. A day for unity, peace and democracy. Surely the 3 Cameroonian men who are being illegally detained are enjoying all of that, please, do not disturb the Governor. What is the importance of the freedom of his fellow countrymen when he is busy eating and drinking?
6:00 p.m. – The only bright spot in the day. CPP party members call in from The North West – Bamenda, South West – Kumba, Littoral – Edea, Mombo, Nkongsamba, Extreme North – Maga, etc. The CPP has been present during the National Day and has shown a powerful new face to Cameroonians. Young people in their green, red and yellow t-shirts got standing ovations from various crowds across the country. In spite of the attempt by the authorities to crush it, hope is alive and well in Cameroon and showed its face through the CPP across the country.
9:00 p.m. Candidate Walla manages to catch the Governor between parties. He has finished with his own party and is now going off to the party at the Senior Divisional Officers house. He has 3 minutes for a discussion. Standing up on the porch of his home. HIs first question is with the utmost disdain “you expect me to solve problems, at this hour, today?” “Yes Mr. Governor, it is a question Cameroonians who have been denied their basic rights, their basic freedoms on National Day. “Madam Walla, I did not detain anyone. I did not ask for anyone to be arrested”. “Go and look for the person who asked for them to be arrested and he will release them”. The Governor has no more time to bestow on such trivial matters. There is a party waiting.
12:00 a.m. The CPP team decides to get some rest. The young lady in Dschang has been allowed to go home, even though she is requested to return on Monday for more questions. The 3 young men are obliged to spend the night in detention.
As we write this, those 3 young men are still being held illegally by the Cameroonian administrative authorities and the gendarmes. They have not been charged with a crime, they have not been registered on the Brigades roll.