By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Democracy, peace and security experts say there is need for a third-party to step in and broker a deal as the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions is in its fifth year.
The experts from varied backgrounds were speaking January 27, on the theme “The Effectiveness of the ‘African Solutions to African Problems’ in Silencing the Guns in Africa”, an event organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation. The event was moderated by Francis Tazoacha, Director of Peace and Security Division, Nkafu Policy Institute.
The objective of this dialogue was to involve Pan Africanists, peace and security experts, stakeholders and the general public on a discussion that will enable them examine and assess the role and contribution of Africans and African Institutions have mustered to resolve their problems without soliciting for foreign interventions in any form.
“No conflict has been resolved without efforts of other countries and done outside of that country,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute, Washington, USA.
“Five years on, I am dumbfounded that the conflict in Cameroon is still treated like we are in 2016. There is need for an urgent mediated effort on the crisis and there are countries who can take that challenge (to mediate).”
Since the dawn of the last century, progressive African visionaries have proffered that to achieve economic well-being, African nations must forge a path to prosperity that is independent of Western prescription.
The African continent continues to face many complex challenges ranging from issues of governance, poor socioeconomic development within its borders to growing terror attacks from extremist groups. Given this context, Africa’s own insecurity is serving as a source of concern for not only the global community but also for African leaders,” a concept note from the Nkafu Policy Institute noted.
“The growing concern is one of the contributing factors behind the phrase ‘African solutions to African problems’, a phrase that has become the boast of the continent as well as a way to show that Africa has both the capability and determination to solve her own problems without any external interference.”
To Prof Annie Barbara Chikwanha, Associate Professor – University of Johannesburg, South Africa, casting ballots does not make Democracy. She said: “Most of the African leaders have subverted the rules to maintain their stay in power. There has been marginalization; attacks on the press and others. When we have small gains like in the ballots, there is usually several reversals of the laws after the elections.”
Yet, are the continent’s challenges so distinct as to be completely unique from those of the rest of the world? Dr Christopher Fomunyoh thinks otherwise on this matter. He said: “Africa needs to define its problems so it can include the rest of the world. Africa needs to take its space in the global stage and w have all the resources needed. We will not achieve that if we continue to be on the defensive. The only way African problems can be heard is if we take it to the global stage.”
Much is made of looking for African solutions and the AU and its member countries have no shortage of ideas, whether appropriate or not, on how to resolve the continent’s peace and security challenges. But Chief Charles Taku, International Law expert, International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherland says the African Union needs to reform itself taking into consideration the new trends on the continent and the world.
He said: “The AU is held hostage by its inability to fund itself. The time has come where many people on the continent want change and we are seeing it across Africa. The AU cannot be indifferent and it must reform itself radically.”
And while “African solutions” sound more legitimate, interventions by African states are often less controversial than international ones – this is not to say African interventions in other states have not caused great suffering. For example, Ethiopia’s interventions in Somalia in 2006 and 2011, respectively, were very problematic and had less to do with the stability of the country and more to do with their own national concerns.
“African leaders have not committed themselves to some of the treaties and when they do sign it is not operational. The very people who are now the problem where the ones who said they wanted to bring solutions to their people,” Chief Charles Taku said. “The African leaders have militarized every situation and are even trialing their own population. So, it begs the question whether or not African leaders are actually doing enough for their population.”