Historical hindsight instructs the attentive world that the Biya regime cannot be accused of being interested in developing a democratic ethos to promote democratic as well as transparent institutions that are answerable to Cameroonians.
Instead, the regime is still immersed in that whacky repressive culture intent on controlling, co-opting, containing, or simply coercing or cowing the populace into submission. Besides, logistically and militarily supported by France, that has extensive business "partnerships" with the regime, Biya has until now never been officially accused of crimes against humanity, although several heavily documented reports have been published on the mass human rights violations and massacres that took place in, for instance, February 2008. France is covering him, Switzerland is covering him, as well as others within the international community.
They are therefore accomplices to gross human rights violations as well as crimes against humanity in Cameroon.
These foreign umbrellas covering Biya has combined with an ethnic-prone militia called a “national army.” The "security forces" have been trained to kill and to torture. Like ferocious animals they can only be content by shedding the blood of their own people. Human life has absolutely no value in their eyes. They are the best and most obvious symbol of Biya's age-old bloodthirsty regime. Hence, President Paul Biya has seen no need to offer his vassals the luxury of establishing the rule of law. What is important to his village tyranny is the rule of men, implying the arbitrary use of political authority for the greedy interests of ruling cliques and their starving table companions at home and abroad. .Nemesis of this political myopia has caught up with the President. And, he is spectacularly arresting and jailing those with whom he leagued to bleed the country dry in the name of “embezzlement of public funds” today and organize electoral façades whose results are tabulated before any scheduling of the socalled elections. If Biya cared about the rule of law or the legal maxim whereby governmental decisions are made by applying known legal principles since he claims to have been ruined by legal studies in France, Cameroon would not have degenerated to this nauseating level of corruption. His religion-the rule of men-may not save him in the not too distant future.
Rule of Men vs. Rule of Law
All of the governments that mankind has instituted in the history of the world can be divided into two categories. Any and every state can be categorized into either rule of law governments or rule of men governments. History has proven that any nation founded upon the shifting sands of the whim of men will always degenerate into oligarchy and tyranny. However, a nation of virtuous, educated people, which is founded upon and holds to the bedrock of a rule of law system will maintain prosperity and freedom despite the natural occurrences and challenges of history. This elementary yet strikingly relevant dichotomy is misunderstood by many Cameroonians. And, this misunderstanding is one of the many reasons why Cameroon has been mistakenly led away from a rule of law system toward something that was not intended, rule of men or lawless tyrants.
First, it is important to define the two systems. A governmental system ruled by men is any system in which fallen man directs the course of the nation. This includes not only dictatorships and oligarchies where one man or a select few call all of the shots, but also democracies where majority opinion rules without any restraints or protections for minority opinion and individual liberty. In the case of America, for example, according to its Founding Fathers, democracies were as dangerous as any form of government. Benjamin Franklin defined democracy as “three wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch,” and explained that true liberty is “a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” In sum, any rule of man system, whether mob rule or rule by the elites, is destined for failure. Liberty and property will not be protected under such systems, and the nation will ultimately suffer under tyranny.
A rule of law system is quite the opposite. In a rule of law system, the country possesses a set of guidelines usually in a constitution, which sets the terms for governing. Only according to those blueprints for governing, then, can any men write and execute additional laws. The constitution is the law of the land, and everything else must be measured up against it. A constitutional republic is such a form of government. The constitution is written to assign tasks to the various branches of government and to assure the God-granted liberty and property rights of every citizen. Then, representatives of the people govern according to the constitutional limits of power with a constant concern for individual liberty and constitutional integrity.
Unfortunately, many Cameroonians have become confused regarding these two drastically different systems for governing. Cameroonians have been taught in school, by the media and by politicians that democracy is good, and that the more democracy we have, the better. This mistaken view is not simply a semantic error, as some might assert, but it is a dangerous misunderstanding. Most Cameroonians actually believe that the majority ought to rule; they do have a correct understanding of democracy, but they mistakenly advocate it because that is what they have been taught to do.
The biggest danger in the bizarre Cameroon brand of democracy is that the very things that government is instituted to protect (liberty and property) are in constant danger to the whim of the President and his kleptocrtic ethnocrats and mealy-mouthed sycophants. In a democracy, when a crisis occurs (whether real or manufactured), the majority calls for government solutions. Then, when politicians answer that call and government grows in size and influence over peoples’ lives, there is an equal and opposite decrease in the amount of liberty and property maintained by the people. 21st century Cameroon history is supposed to reflect this process in action. Interestingly enough, as the government gains more and more power, the majority actually begins to lose its voice and the country descends into oligarchic anarchy and, ultimately, senile and barbaric tyranny.
The only alternative for citizens who want to keep their liberty and property unmolested by majorities or oligarchs is the constitutional republic rule of law system. All governments pretending to be democratic are intended to be such a system. The Government has a job description laid out clearly and concisely in a few-pages-long document, in case any Cameroonian didn’t catch it on the first read through the Constitution. It reminds Cameroonians that any powers not given to the Government are reserved to the people. The obvious central concern of the Constitution in including this emphasis is to limit the amount of power that the native tyrants in government would be able to wield, regardless of what man might say.
The constitution is not meant to be read as a collection of mere suggestions for governing. It is not a piece of paper that can be discarded at will as indicated by Andze Tchoungui years ago. The literal rigidity of the document itself is described well by Thomas Jefferson when he exclaimed, “Let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” The proverbial chains of the rule of law are meant to bind men down from their wayward tendencies.
Once upon a time in the then Southern Cameroons, citizens and politicians alike had a constant concern for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; laws were written and executed according to its mandates. Those were days when government was limited in its function because the politicians knew that their job description was limited indeed by the expressed powers of the Constitution itself. Those were the days before the “elastic clause” had been stretched to the moon and back by the gangsters of the Cameron Republic. And, those were days when the liberties of the citizens were top priority. Today, we would do well to remember that the law of the land ought to rule and that people (politicians or majority opinion) could only act according to that rule of law. If Cameroonians continue to move simultaneously toward democracy and oligarchy they will be disappointed to see that their future belongs to tyranny. Some day each ignorant citizen will wake up to these realities and will lament, as Woodrow Wilson did years after the creation of the Federal Reserve System in America, “I have unwillingly ruined my government.”
Rule of Law: Foundation of Constitutions
Throughout most of human history, the rules by which life was governed were usually determined by force and fraud: he who had the power—whether military strength or political dominance—made the rules. The command of the absolute monarch or tyrannical despot was the rule and had the coercive force of the law. Rulers made up false stories of inheritance and rationalizations such as “divine right” to convince their subjects to accept their rule without question. This is still the case in many parts of the world, where the arbitrary rulings of the dictator are wrongly associated with the rule of law.
A principle that itself is quite old and long predates Cameroon, the rule of law, is the general concept that government as well as the governed are subject to the law and that all are to be equally protected by the law. Its roots can be found in classical antiquity. The vast difference between the rule of law as opposed to that of individual rulers and tyrants is a central theme in the writings of political philosophers from the beginning. In the works of Plato and as developed in Aristotle’s writings, it implies obedience to positive law as well as rudimentary checks on rulers and magistrates.
In Anglo-American history, the idea was expressed in Magna Carta in 1215. In its famous thirty-ninth clause, King John of England promised to his barons that “No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, disseized, outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will he proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and the Law of the Land.” The idea that the law is superior to human rulers is the cornerstone of English constitutional thought as it developed over the centuries. It can be found elaborated in the great seventeenth-century authorities on British law, Henry de Bracton, Edward Coke, and William Blackstone. The ultimate outcome of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England was permanently to establish that the king was subject to the law.
Over time, the rule of law had come to be associated with four key components in the defunct Southern Cameroons. First, the rule of law means a formal, regular process of law enforcement and adjudication. What we really mean by “a government of laws, not of men” is the rule of men bound by law, not subject to the arbitrary will of others. The rule of law means general rules of law that bind all people and are promulgated and enforced by a system of courts and law enforcement, not by mere discretionary authority. In order to secure equal rights to all citizens, government must apply law fairly and equally through this legal process. Notice, hearings, indictment, trial by jury, legal counsel, the right against self-incrimination—these are all part of a fair and equitable “due process of law” that provides regular procedural protections and safeguards against abuse by government authority. Among the complaints lodged against the king in the Declaration of Independence was that he had “obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers,” and was “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.”
Second, the rule of law means that these rules are binding on rulers and the ruled alike. If the American people, as Madison wrote in Federalist 57, “shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.” As all are subject to the law, so all—government and citizens, indeed all persons—are equal before the law, and equally subject to the legal system and its decisions. No one is above the law in respect to enforcement; no one is privileged to ignore the law, just as no one is outside the law in terms of its protection. As the phrase goes, all are presumed innocent until proven guilty. We see this equal application of equal laws reflected in the Constitution’s references to “citizens” and “persons” rather than race, class, or some other group distinction, as in the Fifth Amendment’s language that “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” It appears again in the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee that “No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The rights of all are dependent on the rights of each being defended and protected. In this sense, the rule of law is an expression of—indeed, is a requirement of—the idea of each person possessing equal rights by nature.
A striking example of this came in 1770, after British soldiers fired into a crowd of colonists, killing five persons, in what is known as the Boston Massacre. Popular passions were overwhelmingly against the soldiers yet, in a remarkable testament to the significance of the rule of law, these British regulars were acquitted in a colonial court, by a colonial jury, and defended by none other than John Adams, who was to become one of the most committed stalwarts of the patriot cause. Adams wrote that this was one of the most disinterested actions of his life, and considered it one of the best services he ever rendered his country.
Third, the rule of law implies that there are certain unwritten rules or generally understood standards to which specific laws and lawmaking must conform. There are some things that no government legitimately based on the rule of law can do. Many of these particulars were developed over the course of the history of British constitutionalism, but they may be said to stem from a certain logic of the law. Several examples can be seen in the clauses of the U.S. Constitution. There can be no “ex post facto” laws—that is, laws that classify an act as a crime leading to punishment after the act occurs. Nor can there be “bills of attainder,” which are laws that punish individuals or groups without a judicial trial. We have already mentioned the requirement of “due process,” but consider also the great writ of “habeas corpus” (no person may be imprisoned without legal cause) and the rule against “double jeopardy” (no person can be tried or punished twice for the same crime.) Strictly speaking, none of these rules are formal laws but follow from the nature of the rule of law. “Bills of attainder, ex-post facto laws and laws impairing the obligation of contracts,” Madison wrote in Federalist 44, “are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.”
Lastly, even though much of its operation is the work of courts and judges, the rule of law ultimately is based on, and emphasizes the centrality of, lawmaking. This is why, although we have three coequal branches of government, the legislature is the first among equals. But as those who make law are themselves subject to some law above them, this gives rise to the idea that there are different types of laws, some of which are more significant and important, and thus more authoritative than others. The rule of law—especially in terms of key procedural and constitutional concepts—stands above government. By definition and by enforcement it is a formal restraint on government. It judges government in light of a higher standard associated with those ideas. The more authoritative or fundamental laws have an enduring nature. They do not change day to day or by the whim of the moment and cannot be altered by ordinary acts of government.
This sense is captured in Magna Carta’s reference to “the Law of the Land,” a phrase written into all eight of the early American state constitutions, as well as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. It is reflected in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The deep importance of this supremacy is seen in the fact that the oaths taken by those holding office in the United States—the president, members of Congress, federal judges—are oaths not to a king or ruler, or even to an executive or to Congress, but to the United States Constitution and the laws.
In the case of the Republic of Cameroon the BIG QUESTION mark as large as the size of Africa is: Can a Personality/Ethnic-Prone Constitution and laws be Personality/Ethnic-Proof? This is the brutal question the Prof.Ndiva Kofele Kale Defense Team has to confront squarely. All those victims of Biya’s “spectacular arrests” and dumping into dungeons had cautioned the Personality/Ethnic-Prone Constitution and laws of impunity for decades. Now, the chicks have come home to roost. Let the jail birds vomit the truth and, as the Holy Bible says,” the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). This is enduringly a political trial of the Biya regime.And, the world is ready to see the verdict.
This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want — including breaking their laws—and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country—live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. Cameroonians were hoodwinked inot collectively deciding that their most powerful political leaders are not bound by laws—that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. The country has thus become a country which lives under the proverbial “rule of men”—that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed—and the “spectacular arrests” and their attendant revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.