The establishment of the Political Alliance for Change (APC), a new coalition of political parties, members of civil society, associations, and citizens from diverse backgrounds, is announced as a pivotal moment in Cameroonian politics, one year ahead of the upcoming presidential election. The goal is to support the candidacy of Maurice Kamto, the president of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC), in this election. However, this initiative is already facing skepticism about its chances of success in a country that has witnessed similar endeavors before.
The actual launch and functioning of the APC will require more time. At the beginning of this year, the focus is on fine-tuning the details that will give substance to the Political Alliance for Change. “We are working on it. We are busy drafting documents and conducting various consultations,” reveals one of the figures involved in this political endeavor, announced at the end of 2023.
The purpose of this political initiative is clear: to rally support for Maurice Kamto, the president of the MRC, who officially ranked second to Paul Biya in the presidential election of October 2018 and considering running again in 2025.
According to its initiators, this dynamic aims to unite political parties, civil society organizations, traditional and religious authorities, intellectuals, academics, and cultural figures around Maurice Kamto.
The creation of the APC holds significant implications. The MRC officially has no elected representatives following the boycott of the 2020 legislative and municipal elections. Under the current electoral code, Maurice Kamto can only be a candidate in the next Cameroonian presidential election under two conditions: either he gathers 300 signatures from personalities across the country, or he runs under the banner of another political party, provided that party has elected officials.
However, Kamto has reassured his supporters, stating, “I can confirm that the MRC will present its candidate in the presidential election, even if it were called now. We don’t need to go through another political party to have the right to run. According to the relevant provisions of the Constitution and considering several specific cases in our country, the MRC has several elected officials from state elections, whose mandates are still valid,” explained Maurice Kamto, a seasoned jurist, in early December.
Is the debate settled? It seems unlikely. Other questions arise regarding the APC’s ability to gather support beyond the MRC, the Dynamic, and the Front for Change in Cameroon (FCC), two relatively insignificant political formations led by Albert Dzongang (a former heavyweight of the ruling party) and Jean-Michel Nintcheu (former vice-president of the Social Democratic Front, a long-time main opposition party in Cameroon).
“It will depend on Maurice Kamto’s ability to negotiate, knowing that negotiating often means compromising on one’s values, even at the cost of self-denial. It should be noted that participating in elections carries significant symbolic and economic stakes for political actors concerned about their image. From this perspective, it will be challenging for them to withdraw in favor of the president of the MRC, who has already positioned himself as the hegemon of the APC without clear bases such as the number of elected officials or the party’s territorial presence,” analyzes political scientist Njoya Moussa.