Female Cameroonian Presidential Candidate Abducted
Submitted Alyse Nelson Alyse Nelson, president & CEO of Vital Voice
Just yesterday we learned that Kah Walla, candidate for the national presidency in Cameroon, current president of the Cameroon People’s Party, and one of last month’s Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards Honorees, was abducted from the Mont Febe Hotel in Yaoundé, Cameroon, by two men who identified themselves as policemen and forced Kah into their car.
Her bags were searched and phones confiscated. Nearly three hours later, after a harrowing journey and repeated requests to be released had been ignored, Kah was freed at the front gate of her home in Douala.
This incident is part of a larger trend of intimidation. Last February in Douala, riot police brutally suppressed a peaceful gathering, led by Kah. While demonstrating in support of electoral reform, a group of young Cameroonians was subjected to beatings with night sticks and dousings from a high-powered water cannon. Kah was instructed by police to stand on a traffic median and endure the full force of the water cannon’s blast. Some of the brutality was caught on video by citizens using cell phones.
Vital Voices condemns the constant intimidation and harassment of Kah Walla, who is exercising her right as a citizen to run for political office. In October of 2010, Kah declared her candidacy on a platform of transparency and human rights.
In a statement on May 19 in commemoration of the anniversary of Cameroonian independence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the support of the United States for a democratic election in Cameroon:
“The United States remains committed to working with the Government of Cameroon as it seeks to strengthen democracy, governance, and rule of law. We look forward to seeing the people of Cameroon exercise their right to vote later this year in a free, fair, and credible Presidential election.”
If recent history reminds us of anything, it is that attempts to retain power through intimidation will ultimately fail.
We call for an immediate end to the harassment of Kah Walla, and stand in defense of her right to run for political office.
As we know, in so many places around the world, leadership can often be a dangerous and lonely occupation. As long as women across the globe stand up for democratic and peaceful change, Vital Voices stands with them.
Submitted Alyse Nelson
Alyse Nelson is president & CEO of Vital Voice