When Cameroon’s Deputy Justice Minister decided to draw parallels in a political discussion on state TV relating the Holocaust to current political ongoings in the country, little did he know it will draw a diplomatic backlash.
Jean de Dieu Momo likened the political positioning of main opposition leader Maurice Kamto to Jewish people killed by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.
The first reaction came from the Israeli embassy in Cameroon which slammed the minister’s comment saying he was justifying the Holocaust – which cost the lives of about six million Jewish people and called for an apology.
The Embassy’s statement read in part: “These anti-Semitic comments, coming barely a week after Cameroon and the world participated in the commemoration of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Holocaust constitutes a big disappointment for bilateral relations between Cameroon and Israel.”
Government’s reaction came later on Monday dissociated itself with the comments saying the minister had acted in his personal capacity. “The government of Cameroon wishes to point out that the political leader concerned was speaking on a strictly personal basis.
“The government strongly deplores the irrelevant comments of the said personality and completely dissociates itself,” the statement added.
It also confirmed that a Minister of State has since rendered sincere regrets of government to the Ambassador of the State of Israel.
Portions of Minister’s controversial remarks
In seeking to address how Kamto, currently detained on charges of insurrection, was leading his supporters in defiance against government, the minister cited the Holocaust.
“In Germany, there was a race of very rich people. They had enormous economic power. And they were so arrogant that the German people felt a little nervous. Then one day, a certain Hitler came to power and put these populations in gas chambers.”
Reports indicate that Kamto comes from the Bamileke tribe who a reknown for their business acumen across the country. Incidentally, Momo is also from the same ethnic group. His advice being interpreted as the Bamilekes should guard their business and leave frontline politics.
“Educated people like Kamto should know where he is leading his people. When you are a leader, you lead your people away from danger, not towards it,” Mr Momo said is quoted to have further stressed.