Chronicle published in Journalisten
January 4, 2017
By Arison Tamfu
Cameroon. Cameroon’s president Paul Biya, 83, has occupied his post for 34 years and is one of most Africa’s long-lived rulers. At the beginning of 2008 he announced that he wanted to modify the constitution, implicitly securing his power hold for life. Masses of Cameroonians took to the streets to protest.
I was working at the privately owned Equinoxe Television (ETV) – one of the most popular TV channels in the country – and on February 25 I was meant to interview the leader of the opposition, Fru Ndi, about the suggested changes to the constitution.
I had barely started the interview before armed police stormed the studio and ordered the interview to stop and the TV channel to be shut down. A few weeks later, the constitution was changed to the president’s advantage.
ETV was not able to start again until six months later, when the programs where closely monitored by the regime, who also increasingly censored them.
According to the regime, ETV had not paid their license fee and was operating with a so called “administrative tolerance”. It is an unofficial policy which means that the state “tolerates” that media operates without a license as long as they do not report on anything that displeases the regime. The application for a license is extremely expensive (the equivalent of £135k) and and difficult to obtain, especially for those not towing the line of the regime.
Now, eight years later, Paul Biya is still the president and the media is still as oppressed. The constitution of Cameroon, which guarantees freedom of speech and press, is in stark contrast of reality.
Full chronicle published in Journalisten: https://www.journalisten.se/kronika/bevapnade-man-stormade-studion