The Government of Cameroon should adhere to the global call for the unconditional release of all Southern Cameroonians incarcerated within the context of the armed conflict as a show of good faith for genuine ceasefire negotiations.
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations has welcomed the preliminary talks held between the Cameroon government and jailed leaders of the Southern Cameroons struggle led by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.
In a released signed July 10, 2020, for the steering committee, the Coalition strongly believes that ceasefires are effective if negotiated with credible guarantees for compliance. At a time when the world yearns for global leadership in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to save the most vulnerable, The Coalition welcomes the unanimous United Nations Resolution 2532 of July 1, 2020, that called for a global ceasefire of hostilities for at least 90 days.
Since the conflict escalated in 2017, this is the first reported peace talks between the government and the Anglophone separatists. As per a communiqué released by the Interim Government of Ambazonia, representatives of the Cameroon government and leaders of the Interim Government led by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe were engaged in a peace talk geared towards ending the four year-long battle.
“Be reassured that we remain committed to the restoration of the independence of the homeland,” Julius Ayuk Table, self-decaled President of Ambazonia, currently serving life imprisonment for charged including terrorism said.
The statement further states that “no war has ever been wrapped up in the battlefield” and that “real, sustainable peace and independence are a product of the negotiation table.”
With Cameroon having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Central Africa the country faces an increasingly daunting challenge, especially with the worsening sociopolitical crisis. In light of these, The Coalition strongly recommends:
1. The Government of Cameroon and the leadership of all Southern Cameroons armed groups to commit to an open, genuine, and transparent adherence to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2532.
2. On Human Rights Abuse and Humanitarian Response: The Government of Cameroon should adhere to the global call for the unconditional release of all Southern Cameroonians incarcerated within the context of the armed conflict as a show of good faith for genuine ceasefire negotiations. In the same vein, it is imperative for the Cameroon Government forces, and the Southern Cameroons armed groups to commit to fully adhere to humanitarian law. We welcome the “Ambazonian Defense Forces (ADF)” commitment on July 7, 2020, to allow safe passage for humanitarian aid workers under the auspices of OCHA.
3. Political Parties: At this critical juncture it is imperative for all political engagements to be geared towards encouraging the warring parties and credible international stakeholders to implement a negotiated ceasefire.
4. The International and Diplomatic Corp in Yaoundé should commit to advance the implementation of Resolution 2532. Their collective support is needed for the Cameroon Government to commit to genuine mediated negotiations for a ceasefire and its effective implementation.
5. UNDP Cameroon to ensure an enabling environment for sustained development and peace before commencing the implementation of the recovery plan. UNSC Resolution 2532 provides an opportunity to leverage UNDP’s expertise to ensure a ceasefire and peace agreement in line with UNDP’s core values.
6. To the United Nations Security Council and the UN Secretary General a. Hold a UN security council meeting to begin addressing the root causes of the armed conflict
b. Mediate and Monitor Ceasefire: Empower in-country UN Chief to ensure any negotiated ceasefire adheres to recognize international norms and instruments with guarantees for an effective implementation
A July 6 statement signed by the Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi has dispelled the news stressing that the reports circulated on media outlets “did not conform with reality.” This suggests that no such talks with the jailed leaders took place.
He added that all efforts were being taken by the government to end the crisis in the country’s two English-speaking regions but that all such measures were aimed at preserving the unity, and territorial integrity of the country, while He reiterated government’s call for armed groups to lay down their arms and embrace a peace offer by President Paul Biya.
Violence in Cameroon’s two-English speaking regions broke out following government’s crackdown of peaceful protest of teachers and lawyers who complained of marginalization. Non-state armed groups took up arms and demanded separation from La Republic du Cameroun.
The ongoing squabbles has caused more than 3,000 deaths and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Some have taken up refuge in other regions while others are refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.
Last year, Switzerland mediated talks between the government and exiled separatist leaders, but those leaders are considered less influential than Tabe and the discussions did not produce any significant results, Aljazeera reported.