October 7th is Election Day in Cameroon. The incumbent Paul Biya who has been in Office since 1982 once again is seeking a new term as President of the Republic of Cameroon.
But there is a deep dark secret lurking in the shadows. Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions, the north-west and south-west, are demanding the creation of an independent, English-speaking state. This was agreed to by the UN in 1961, but never realized. Now, at the core of Biya’s campaign is an effort to drive the Anglophone community out of the country, and that effort has a voice here in Washington.
On July 11th, 2018 a contract between the Cameroonian Government and Denver-based lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs was renewed at an annual cost of $400,000 annually. This is not the first time during the Trump Administration SPB Global has been retained to lobby the United States Government. In 2017 the firm was hired by the genocidal Sudanese Government to improve its image in Washington and to lift the sanctions on the regime that were currently in place. The sanctions, sadly, (and shamefully) were lifted.
Now a year later the firm has been retained by the Government of Cameroon to clean up its image in Washington. What does the Biya regime fear?
First of all there have been two Catholic priests killed in the Anglophone region since the contract between SPB Global and the Government of Cameroon was renewed. On July 21, Africanews reported of the death of one of the priests:
The Catholic church in Cameroon is mourning the death of the parish priest of Bomaka, a district of Buea, the capital of the English-speaking region of South-West Cameroon, who was killed on Friday by unidentified individuals.
“We have received photographs of the body of the deceased priest, Alexander Sob Nougi,’‘ said a communication officer of the Catholic Church in Yaoundé, specifying that the perpetrators of the murder remain unknown and that the body is mutilated.
This crisis should be of concern to the Trump Administration, with its emphasis on the importance of religious freedom.
There is another interesting twist. Mercury, a division of Omnicom, was brought on earlier this month to provide lobbying support and media consultations for a twelve month contract. Reports link this firm to Paul Manafort and the current row over Ukraine.
This is indeed a tangled web. A government who appears to be an ally of the United States rigging an election campaign, trying to make sure legitimate voices of dissent are quashed by retaining dubious lobbying firms here. Meanwhile anyone who is a threat including priests are eliminated. Sadly, this is par for the course.