-Democracy expert fears majority of Anglophones no longer identify as Cameroonians
By Amos Fofung
Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, says the failure of President Paul Biya’s regime to broker peace or make any meaningful progress in restoring normalcy to the North West and South West regions of Cameroon is prove of the administration’s incapability to resolve the Anglophone crisis.
The outspoken political expert and avid humanitarian was categorical that contrary to what the Yaounde administration thinks, their handling of the crisis has made most Anglophones (English-speaking Cameroonians from North West and South West regions), no longer identify with the entity called Cameroon – indirectly saying they identify more with the yet to exist nation separatists seek to create called Ambazonia.
The political scientist cum civic advocate with vast knowledge on African politics and democracy says since 2016 when civil unrest ensued in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, the administration of 87-year-old President Paul Biya failed to get it under control but rather watched and in some cases fueled the unrest to a now full-blown armed conflict.
The Cameroonian-born democracy expert and mediator of civil protest and elections-related conflict across Africa said in an interview with Mimi Mefo this week that it has become obvious that the Biya regime is incapable of resolving the Anglophone crisis.
Backing up his assertion Dr. Fomunyoh who has organized and advised international election observation missions to Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone among others said the crisis could have been resolved since 2016 but the Biya administration preferred to embrace denial of the existence of an Anglophone problem.
“In 2016 when the lawyers and teachers put forth their grievances, we had the government saying that they were no Anglophone grievances (problem) even though President Paul Biya while serving under late President Ahmadu Ahidjo was entrusted with chairing a commission to deal with Anglophone crisis,” he said before adding that it took the government until 2017 to acknowledge the existence of an Anglophone problem forcing some Ministers to tone down on their denial and inflammable speeches and actions towards protesting Anglophones.
The international recognized Dr. Fomunyoh who has also designed and supervised country-specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties, and legislative bodies in over a dozen African countries said President Paul Biya despite his speech in December 31st, 2016 where he denied the existence of an Anglophone problem and blamed the civil unrest on “a few manipulated extremist”, was well aware of the existence of an Anglophone problem during his 20-years of service under former President Ahmadu Ahidjo right up to when he took power in 1982.
“President Paul Biya served for 20 years in very high-level positions under Ahmadu Ahidjo and those grievances began to populate the surface in 1964 with memoranda from people like Bernard Fonlon and other opinion leaders within the Anglophone community. They were not resolved up until 1982 when President Paul Biya took power.”
“With the actions that he took especially in 1984 when he changed the name of the country…and the way the crisis has been managed since 2016, has aggravated the situation transforming what were written petitions into an armed conflict and to the point where a majority of Anglophones no longer identify with the entity that is today called Cameroon,” he said.
Blaming the current loss of patriotism to the Green-Red-yellow nation due to the handling of the country’s crisis which now threatens its core unity, Dr. Chris condemned in strong terms the killing, amputation, and gross human rights violations by government forces and separatist fighters.
He warned perpetrators to be ready for they will come a time when sanctions and individually mated punishments for those committing and ordering the committing of atrocities in the Anglophone regions.
Calling on the United Nations, European Union, and United States to redouble their efforts and find fresh ways to address the crisis since all other options seemed to have failed, Dr. Christopher chairs the Fomunyoh Foundation, a charitable arm that carters for and donates to dozens of internally displaced Cameroonians, urged rights groups, advocates and individuals, to keep sounding the alarm and reporting on the crisis saying their reports will push for more action by the international community to act on the crisis.