Journal du Cameroun.com met with Charles Nguini, President of Cameroon’s branch of Transparency International, three days after wide outrage ensued over election observers ‘posing’ to be coming from the anti-corruption body aired on CRTV news.
In this interview Charles Nguni throws more light on the controversy.
Who are these observers whom media reports say are sent by Transparency International?
I cannot tell you who they are since I do not know them. I saw them for the first time last night. Because after our public declaration refuting the TV report, they called me, they absolutely wanted to meet me. Some of them were already leaving. I asked to meet them at Hilton, an open and public place. I went to the Hilton, that’s when we met. And I asked them to explain their side of the story.
You pretend not to know them, but there are indeed media reports…
I will explain things in simple terms. Last Thursday, we organized a press conference to announce that we are setting up a platform to denounce fraud and irregularities in the area of corruption. ‘It’s called election-corruption-no-sissia’ and it’s part of a project dedicated to this electoral operation. We had about fifty volunteers which we deployed in three pilot regions: Mfoundi, Wouri and Fako. These are the ones we put on the ground, we of Transparency International.
In addition, we have formed other civil society organizations, using our platform with our technical partner Afro leadership. These observers were therefore part of the people who were trained, but they were under the banner of another association called Cameroon Press Agency. I must tell you that there were also observers from various backgrounds, including those from the African Union who were interested in our platform.
How did you react when you learnt that the observers were speaking on TI’s behalf?
We were surprised. When I listen to the Crtv, I heard announcements that there are TI observers who have organised a press conference. I asked the Executive Director, just for the sake of formality, and we immediately seized our international secretariat in Berlin. But I can tell you that until yesterday, they swore on their hearts that they had never said they were on a mission from Transparency International. The confusion, as they said, was that they were trained by TI but people preferred to remember that they belonged to the organisation.
Will Transparency International bring legal action against these observers?
When we discussed, they were confused and apologies and for me, that is enough. I must tell you that they were scared, they told me they have received a lot of threats from Cameroonian on social networks … as soon as they accept friend request, insults poured in. One of them almost cried … I made some adjustments and that’s what counts: TI does not know them.
Have you asked for explanations from state media, CRTV? They aired the report.
One of my members found that the CRTV has removed this specific report from its web programs. Cameroonian forums no longer talk about it,
So for the moment, we are not considering doing so. But we can ask for explanations if it takes a different dimension which demands our clarification.