Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (Union des populations du Cameroun, UPC)
The Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) is an opposition political party in Cameroon. The UPC was founded in 1948. The Political Handbook of the World 2012 (PHW) described the UPC as a "Marxist-Leninist" party. For nearly a decade beginning in the mid-1950s the country was subjected to outbursts of terrorist activity by supporters of the outlawed Union of Cameroonian Peoples (Union des Populations du Cameroun — UPC). This major threat to internal security began as violent opposition to the French administration before Cameroonian independence in 1960 and was mounted mainly by young members of the Bassa and Bamileke ethnic groups.
The violence that began as a protest against French administration in the mid-1950s was supported by radical African regimes and several communist nations, including the People's Republic of China (PRC). After independence the rebellion continued until it was gradually quelled by the combined efforts of the country's three separate security forces — the military services, the National Gendarmerie, and the National Police (Surete Nationale — SN). Within the legal framework of a state of emergency decree issued by President Ahmadou Ahidjo, the security forces had considerable authority and freedom of action in dealing with the rebellion. In sweeping counterguerrilla drives, military and police units killed a number of the terrorists, broke up organized rebel units, and drove many UPC leaders and supporters out of the country. Captured suspects were tried in special military courts, and many were executed.
President Ahidjo maintained a standing offer of amnesty to those who surrendered peacefully and even allowed them to reenter politics. By 1967 the level of violence had been reduced to sporadic minor incidents, and by early 1971 overt opposition to the government had been almost entirely eliminated. Nevertheless, strong security measures were apparently still in effect in 1973, at least in some administrative subdivisions where interethnic conflicts or banditry were sometimes attributed to the UPC.
The UPC was outlawed in 1955, but continued to operate clandestinely for 30 years. During this clandestine period, the UPC became the most prominent of the groups opposing Cameroon's one-party regime. The party was legalized once again in 1991. The Democratic Rally of the Cameroon People (Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais, RDPC), the party of Cameroonian president Paul Biya, who was in power in 2012, was the only legal party in the country from 1966 to 1991, until the other parties were legalized in December 1990. There are several factions within the UPC. Some sources refer to the diverse factions as "wings" of the party.
The party split in 1992 into one faction led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock, the secretary general of the party, and another led by Ndeh Ntumazah. Ndeh Ntumazah was the last surviving founder of the UPC. According to Bonaberi, an information website on Cameroon, the faction led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock was described as "moderate," whereas that of Ndeh Ntumazah was considered "more radical". Ndeh Ntumazah's faction wanted to boycott the 1992 legislative elections, while Augustin Frédéric Kodock participated in them. However, according to Bonaberi, the split was caused by Augustin Frédéric Kodock's decision not to run for president and to give his support to Paul Biya during that year's presidential elections.
The International Crisis Group states that the UPC is "split between the opportunist Augustin Kudock and the principled but ageing Ndeh Ntumazah" (25 May 2010). According to the Cameroonian daily Cameroon Tribune, Ndeh Ntumazah died in January 2010 and was entitled to a state funeral because of his role as an activist who fought for the unification and independence of Cameroon. The Cameroon Tribune describes him as the "late National President" of the UPC but notes that his family did not allow the secretary general of the party, Augustin Frédéric Kodock, to speak at the funeral, as the two men had not been in contact for years.
One of the factions is called UPC(K). According to the Cameroonian daily Le Messager, this faction is a wing that some identify as being "pro-government" (18 Jan. 2012). This faction was led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock until his death in October 2011. According to the Journal du Cameroun, he was the one who worked for the re-legalization of the UPC in 1991. He was elected secretary general of the UPC in 1991. He retained that title until his death. Sources indicate that Augustin Frédéric Kodock allied himself with President Paul Biya and his party for several years and held several cabinet posts within his successive governments. Augustin Frédéric Kodock was dismissed from his cabinet post in September 2007.
According to Bonaberi, he then "turned his back" on his alliance with President Biya's party. Some sources state that some people thought that this exclusion was decided upon because of his declining support. However, others state that Augustin Frédéric Kodock was removed from cabinet because of allegations of embezzlement within his ministry. Sources indicate that Augustin Frédéric Kodock tried to run for president in 2011, but that his candidacy was rejected. Jeune Afrique states that he subsequently gave his support to the presidential candidate from the Cameroonian Democratic Union (Union démocratique du Cameroun, UDC) rather than to the MANIDEM candidate, another UPC faction.
UPC Hogbe Nlend
Another faction was led by Henri Hogbe Nlend (Le Messager 18 Jan. 2012; PHW 2012, 226-227). This one is known as UPC(N) (ibid.) or UPC(H) (L'Actu 24 Jan. 2012; Mutations 19 Jan. 2012; CamerounActu 17 Jan. 2012). According to Le Messager, some people consider the UPC(N) to be "pro-government". In 2001, the UPC was reportedly split once again into factions, one led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock and another led by Henri Hogbe Nlend, the party's presidential candidate in 1992 and 1997, who was named a minister in the cabinet following the 1997 presidential elections. The faction led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock became increasingly anti-Biya, whereas the faction led by Henri Hogbe Nlend continued to support President Biya. In the 2002 legislative elections, the national election board of Cameroon treated the two factions as a single party, although the candidates identified themselves as candidates for the UPC(K), for the faction led by Augustin Frédéric Kodock, or for the UPC(N), for the faction led by Henri Hogbe Nlend. However, PHW reports that the UPC(N) joined a coalition of political parties seeking to run a single candidate against President Biya in the 2004 presidential elections.
Another faction of the UPC is the so-called "faithful". According to Le Messager, this faction "claims to uphold the original positions of the founding fathers" of the UPC. According to the Cameroonian daily Aurore Plus, this faction takes the position that the Government of Cameroon illegally gave legal status to the new party created by Augustin Frédéric Kodock, when the former UPC still existed. Media reports indicate that the leaders of this faction take the view that the faction close to Auguste Frédéric Kodock is close to the government. MboaNews, a news website in Cameroon, also notes that the faithful faction was previously sued by the Kodock faction for usurping the UPC logo. Sources indicate that, in 2013, the secretary general of the faithful UPC was Albert Moutoudou [or Motoundou], and that Alexis Ndema Same was the president. This faction was led by Samuel Mack-Kit until 2011.
Another group with ties to the UPC is the African Movement for New Independence and Democracy (Mouvement africain pour la nouvelle indépendance et la démocratie, MANIDEM). According to Europa World, MANIDEM was "formerly" a UPC faction. The International Crisis Group reports that the party was formerly known as the UPC-MANIDEM (25 May 2010). According to PHW, it is comprised of former UPC members. According to the International Crisis Group, MANIDEM "maintain[s] the UPC's radical tradition, while being blocked by the law courts from using the party's name" (25 May 2010). Sources indicate that MANIDEM is led by (Pierre) Abanda Kpama. However, the 2012 edition of PHW states that Anicet Ekanè led this party. According to the African Elections Database, a database that collects election results from Sub-Saharan African countries from various sources, Anicet Ekanè was MANIDEM's presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential elections.
Reconciliation and New Divisions
Members of the various factions of the UPC have attempted to reunify the party. Factions of the UPC were reported to have met in Yaoundé on 17 January 2012 with the stated goal of [translation] "completing the process of gathering and unifying the movement" (L'Actu 24 Jan. 2012). In particular, sources indicate that Henri Hogbe Nlend participated in these reunification efforts. Sources indicate, however, that the faithful UPC did not participate in these attempts at reunification.
New divisions, however, appeared within the Kodock faction following his death. According to media reports, three separate sub- factions of the UPC presented their own lists of candidates for the senatorial elections in April 2013 . These three sub-factions were allegedly the UPC-Ouandji, the UPC Bapooh and the UPC Papy Ndoumbe. The Cameroonian daily La Nouvelle Expression states that three of the five existing factions of the UPC that had presented lists of candidates saw them rejected by the national election board and the constitutional council (12 July 2013). Media reports indicate, however, that various sub-factions agreed to present a joint list of candidates for the municipal and legislative elections planned for September 2013. According to the media, the leaders of these sub-factions came to an agreement with the support of the minister of territorial administration and decentralization.
Sources mention that the UPC held no seats in the National Assembly in 2012. During the 2007 legislative elections, the party lost the three seats it had held since the 2002 legislative elections. According to the Cameroon-Info.Net website, no UDP faction won a seat in the April 2013 senatorial elections . L'Actu, a Cameroonian information portal, stated that the UPC "gained more attention in the press for miscellaneous activities than for the strength of its policies or for playing a real role in national politics, where they hope to play leading roles" (24 Jan. 2012). The Journal du Cameroun stated that the party has been "undermined by turf wars," adding that the various factions of the party that have emerged have caused it to "lose credibility" (24 Oct. 2011). According to Jeune Afrique, members blamed Augustin Frédéric Kodock for "the UPC's loss of prestige," resulting from his participation in President Biya's governments (Jeune Afrique 3 Oct. 2011).
Media sources indicate that the president and secretary general of the "Faithful" faction of the UPC were arrested in February 2013 when they were protesting against the election board of Cameroon. According to the sources, they were charged with organizing an illegal protest and disturbing the peace. However, according to Aurore Plus, the accused maintain that they had advised the authorities of the staging of the protest, in accordance with the law. Aurore Plus adds that the two accused remain free "on bail" pending their next appearance before a judge in October 2013.
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