23 Aug 2006
Cameroon’s main opposition leader Ni John Fru Ndi, has refuted widely circulated allegations that he has been charged with murder. On Tuesday, Aug 22, Fru Ndi was invited to the State Counsel’s office in Mfoundi, Yaounde in connection with ongoing investigations into the killing of Gregoire Deboule, a member of a splinter faction of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party. Diboule allegedly died in May 2006 when there was a fracas between Fru Ndi supporters and those of Lawyer Ben Muna- a former Fru Ndi ally that has turned against the SDF chairman. “I have no charges leveled against me. I knew nothing about it.” Fru Ndi was quoted over BBC Focus on Africa program. Adding; “ I have not been charged with murder. I will never under the sun be involved with any murder.”
These declarations by Fru Ndi on Wednesday, Aug 23rd ran contrary to earlier reports the previous day in the government owned Cameroon Tribune Newspaper that the SDF chairman has been charged in connection with the death of Diboule. Some of the reports were even attributed to one of Fru Ndi’s lawyers Boniface Mbah Ndam (a junior brother to Joseph Mbah Ndam- lawyer, and SDF parliamentary group leader). In an article written in the French Language newspaper ‘Le Messager’ by Joseph Flavien Kankeu, Boniface Mbah Ndam was quoted as having confirmed that Fru Ndi has been charged.
These confusing signals are not strange when matters affecting Fru Ndi are concerned.
Controversy has always followed the SDF chieftain since he launched the party against all odds in 1990. Since then, Fru Ndi has remained the most prominent opposition figure in Cameroon. The current crisis within his party is just one in a series of them that he has surmounted in the past.
Diboule was allegedly killed when the Muna-led faction of the SDF tried to simultaneously hold a parallel party convention in Yaounde to the one taking place in Bamenda in the North West province. It is alleged that when supporters of Fru Ndi tried to prevent those of Muna from holding their convention on party premises in Yaounde, a fight broke out leading to the death of Diboule. Fru Ndi was elected chairman of the SDF in Bamenda and Ben Muna emerged as chairman of his faction of SDF in Yaounde. Both are now claiming to be authentic leaders of the same party.
Supporters of Fru Ndi suspect the hand of the ruling CPDM party in the destabilization of their party. To them, Muna is being used as a tool to accomplish this plan. They point to the fate of other opposition parties like the UNDP and the UPC that went through similar crisis and eventually their leaders effectively took up ministerial posts within the government of president Paul Biya.
Njei Moses Timah