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Title:Through the Prism of a Local Tragedy: Political Liberalisation, Regionalism and Elite Struggles for Power in Cameroon
Author:Eyoh, Dickson L.
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:political conditions
political elite
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:A prominent feature of political liberalization in Cameroon is the increasing resort by elites to idioms of community (regional, religious and ethnic) and neotraditional institutions like chieftaincy as a means of mobilizing political support and reasserting control of local populations. Focusing on the anglophone part of Cameroon this study examines the historical roots of the salience of these phenomena in current struggles for power. It uses the circumstances surrounding the death, in June 1994, of the chief of Mbakwa Supe, located in Meme Division in the South West Province, to explain the ways in which elite reliance on these phenomena facilitates the linkage of locally specific, culturally encoded political conflict with competition for power at the national level, and provokes local populations into resisting State power. At the centre of the analysis is the South West Conference of Chiefs (SWCC), an organization which was formed in 1990, when the incumbent regime succumbed to popular demands for multiparty politics, with the deceased chief as its inaugural secretary-general. The study concludes that popular scepticism about whether current political struggles will lead to fundamental changes in State-society relations is rooted in the ways in which elite politics are played out in local and regional spaces. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.