By Boris Esono in Buea
Some 12 persons who before described themselves as Ambazonia fighters have dropped down their weapons, saying no to a war that has been ragging for the past four years.
The ex-fighters were presented to the media November 18, 2020, at the South West Governor’s Office alongside guns and other weapons like locally fabricated weapons used in fighting Cameroon’s forces for an independent state of “Ambazonia”.
The fighters authorities said are coming from camps in Lebialem, a Division in the Region that has felt the brunt of the struggle and from areas like Wabane. Some of the materials seized included amongst others bulletproof vest, den guns, bullets, and canon holsters.
The Secretary-General at the South West Governor’s Office talking to the press said: “As you can see, we have different weapons of different calibres. I want to seize this opportunity to call on those who are still in the bushes to follow suit of their friends and drop by weapons. In the DDR Centre, the ex-fighters will be received, logged, feed them and medical assistance will be provided to them.
To assist in their smooth reintegration back into society, the ex-fighters at the DDR Centre will be provided with various training. “In the DDR we have more than eight sections of different pieces of training. Let them take this opportunity made available to them they have to stop what they are doing; killings, hiding in the bushes and suffering for nothing,” Dr Mohamadou said.
The SG thanked the SDO of Lebialem Mungambo Ekema William, the DO of Alou Subdivision Kah Fabian Ambang and also the security officials for facilitating the process.
One of the fighters, Ex-General Edwin said he was the one manufacturing some of the weapons presented that day. Edwin, while thanking the administrative officials, lamented that many of them have died in the bush and about six were remaining. Speaking in pidgin, he said he was deceived to take arms against the State.
“War is a dangerous thing, so, that is why I have decided to come out with everything that I have,” he said.
Another fighter, Ex-General Tiger, also from Lebialem, said: “… I want to thank the officials for giving us the courage and the sensitization to come out of the bush.”
He said he thought that it was through payment and connection that people used to drop their arms; little did he know that the Government had opened its hands to embrace them. “I am giving again the last opportunity to my friends in the bushes; Besali, Yern, Batibo, Bali. You people should come out. The Government is forgiving,” Ex-General Tiger said while noting that they used to kill, burn their own houses and kidnap their people. “That was a very bad life,” he said.
He cautioned that some fighters need only “advice, discussion and persuasion, maybe through phone call discussion, before they can drop their arms.”
“Cameroon’s international partners and the UN Security Council should help civilians in the Anglophone regions who are facing violence daily, and demand government forces and separatists stop attacks on civilian targets,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said in July of this year. “They should impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on separatist leaders responsible for abuses and consider the same for government forces involved in abuses.”
In Anglophone regions, violence intensified as government forces conducted large-scale security operations and armed separatists carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks. Over 3,000 civilians and hundreds of security forces personnel have been killed in the Anglophone regions since 2016 when the crisis started. The unrest in these regions led to the displacement of over half-a-million people, according to Human Rights Watch.