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Cameroon’s Kumba Massacre: Fomunyoh Appeals for Serious Negotiation to Tackle the Conflict

October 27, 2020

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Relations says there is need for serious negotiations to tackle the root causes of the ongoing conflict in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the country.

“#KumbaMassacre shows those who think that this conflict can be resolved militarily and claim all is well and only small pockets of resistance remain are Wrong. As we’ve said four years running, we need serious negotiations to tackle the root causes of the conflict,” Christopher Fomunyoh tweeted.

6 School children were killed and 13 injured in the  attack that has drawn global condemnation, but little on the way forward  to resolve the simmering crisis in the English speaking regions
7 School children were killed and 13 injured in the attack that has drawn global condemnation, but little on the way forward to resolve the simmering crisis in the English speaking regions

His call comes after seven (7) school children were killed by yet to be identified gunmen at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, Meme Division of the South West region of Cameroon.

There have been accusations and counteraccusations about who attacked the school children. Some supporters of the government have blamed the separatist fighters, while others have laid the blamed on Cameroon’s security forces for carrying out the attack. As of now, no one has been apprehended.

“Our hearts bleed for dark Saturday in Kumba. A few decades back and any of those kids could have been any of us. Our deepest condolences to the families, all of Kumba and all of us,” Christopher Fomunyoh added. “If this tragedy does not shock your conscience, nothing will. The killings and atrocities must end.”

This latest assault on school children brings to the memory of many the attack on Ngarbuh, where children and a mother were all killed. During that time, many blamed Cameroon’s security forces for the, though government spokesman refuted it at first, it turned out to be true.

File picture of Dr Fomunyoh speaking in Kumba in 2016.If this tragedy does not shock your conscience, nothing will. The killings and atrocities must end, he says.
File picture of Dr Fomunyoh speaking in Kumba in 2016.If this tragedy does not shock your conscience, nothing will. The killings and atrocities must end, he says.

Switzerland has been seen as one of those countries that can help mediate and bring a solution to the crisis. There have been efforts to bring both parties on the dialogue table by Swiss officials, though the Swiss dialogue has not been welcomed by government officials in the country.

While some regard Switzerland’s efforts in finding a solution to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe, others say Switzerland is yet to make its official stands on the matter.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya in a tweet condemned in the strongest possible terms what he called “barbaric” and “cowardly” crime against innocent children. “I have also instructed that appropriate measures be taken diligently to ensure that the perpetrators of these despicable acts are apprehended by our defence and security forces and brought to justice,” President Biya tweeted.

In May 2020, the Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute for International Relations on the Swiss proposed dialogue said Switzerland “should come clean on efforts to a negotiated, peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Cameroon.”

Either you seriously lead peace talks and play your hand fully, or you become complicit in waving the talks every time others want to act. People are dying daily,” Christopher Fomunyoh tweeted, as quoted by Mimi Mefo Infos

“I hope that we would have The courage to look at realities in the face and also to make a sincere introspection in the search of solutions in order not to be carried away by the ease of looking for non-existing scapegoats,” Dr Chris Fomunyoh said

Christopher Fomunyoh, a revered Peacebuilder

Chris Fomunyoh has acquired a reputation of peacebuilder and negotiator in conflicts, recognized not only by the Western world but Africa and Cameroon in particular. His vast knowledge on peacebuilding has led some political observers to conflicts to think Christopher Fomunyoh as a man who can play the role of finding a consensus, due to his expert knowledge.

He has organized international election observation missions to many African countries; and has designed and supervised country-specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties, and legislative bodies in over 20 African countries from Senegal in the West Coast to Madagascar in the East Coasts and the Indian Ocean, and places in-between.  He frequently is called upon to mediate contentious issues between political leaders in the countries in which NDI conducts programs.

The Anglophone crisis that started in 2016 and degenerated in 2017 has seen several thousands of persons displaced wither internally or are refugees in neighbouring Nigeria. Security forces and the non-state armed groups have been accused of carrying out gross human rights violations.

The non-state armed groups also known as Ambazonia groups have been faulted for killing ordinary citizens, all in the name of “blacklegs” (a name giving to anyone who collaborates with security forces. The security forces on their part have been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and even killings.

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3 responses to “Cameroon’s Kumba Massacre: Fomunyoh Appeals for Serious Negotiation to Tackle the Conflict”

  1. Tikum Richard Anyang says:

    This is a real santanic acts,the authority of Cameroon gorvememt is not willing to tseat for any good way to end the comflict in southern Cameroons region, Their own is to lay blame on people who are by complaint for something which is going wrong within their rights,But gorvememt on their side keep on applied opposit law citizens, they are terrorist they are separatist given them the bad names, and Cameroon is state of law, where is that democracy they are talking of? Where a shameful blinds intellectual , only to present their academic background,Dr in political science professor in that in this of university of lile in France,I wonder whether all this are really truth? Where is they feature leaders , when they on post for over 40 years, They youth school and get retirement, while searching for concourse, weeeh God are you really exist?

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  2. Marcel SIME says:

    With respect to the title of the publication “Fomunyoh appeals for serious negotiation to tackle the conflict”, in my humble opinion, we should be appealing to the government the reconsider the reason of the 1972’s referendum that is the origin of the conflict.
    There is no possibility to solve any conflict while ignoring its origin. This conflict will never been solved if its origin is not addressed.
    Accepting to enter a negotiation necessary implies that parties in conflict agree for an agenda but so far, we are ignoring the origin of the conflict that is the key point of the negociation and merely the single point of the agenda.
    Apart from the fight of the “independentists” who demanded a real independence of the country, the form of government of our country was federalism in 1961.
    The successive governments of Yaoundé have maliciously undertaken to change the form of the government which moreover was declared unchangeable and bounded in the article 47 of the constitution of the federal state of 1961.
    The origin of the current conflicts goes far back to the malicious referendum of 1972 changing the federalism form of the government to the “United Republic of Cameroon”
    The question was biased and gave the choice to respond to the single question by “YES” or “OUI” in order to move from the federalism form of the country to the “United” form; a fake unanimous response with no chance to stand against.
    We should look ourselves in the mirror and “appeal to reconsider the referendum of 1972” to be vicious and step back to the federalism.
    There is a strong radicalism position on both sides.
    Acceptable or not, without having this point in the agenda of negotiation, we only have a tiny chance to resolve this crisis.

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  3. Aaron Ogundiwin says:

    Until Africa begins to listen to its voices, especially those voices in diaspora who have been mediating peace in and engendering conducive environment for development of countries of other continents, Africa may not know enduring peace, let alone develop.

    The profile of Dr. Fomunyoh distinguishes him as one of those rare African voices that internally-focused leaders should readily listen to. Please, do not give up on the appeal; that is what peace does to conflict.

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