Cameroon: Government open to Dialogue,but not with Separatist leaders?

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations Minister, LeJeune Mbella Mbella at the UN General Assembly

Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations says the conflict in Eastern Europe is among the “hotbeds of tension where shocks are exerted whose waves and effects amplify the threats and suffering that already weigh heavily on peoples and nations in terms of loss of human life, property, migration.”

Speaking during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on the theme: “A watershed moment, transformative solutions to interlocking challenges,” Lejeune Mbella Mbella addressed terrorism, and conflicts in different geographical areas of the world, especially in Africa and Europe.

Violent clashes have been ongoing in the English-speaking regions for the past six years and Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella said the Cameroon government has made strides to solve the crisis. The U.N. reports that the separatist war has forced more than 500,000 people to flee their homes since the conflict erupted in late 2017. Ongoing armed clashes, civilian casualties and the burning of houses, hospitals and other infrastructure are causing further displacement.

“With its commitment to peace and territorial integrity, and its policy of national integration, my country’s government continues to demonstrate openness and willingness to engage in dialogue to put an end to the sociopolitical crisis in the North West and South West Regions. After holding the Grand National Dialogue in 2019, we continued the process of accelerating and further deepening decentralization,” Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations said

Eric Tataw, a U.S.-based Anglophone activist said the National Dialogue organized by Cameroon president Paul Biya a year ago to solve the separatist crisis failed woefully. Tataw says for peace to return to the restive English-speaking regions the international community should force Cameroon to organize what he calls true dialogue in another country

“The Grand National Dialogue was a publicity theatre by the Cameroonian authorities to please the international community. Any such discussion will be done on an international scene with Cameroon and Ambazonia as equal parties, where we will decide peacefully on the separation of these two countries,” he said

Speaking on the Ukraine-Russia crisis that has been ongoing for months now, Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella said the Government of Cameroon has been closely following the situation. He said: “The peaceful settlement of disputes been stated has always been one of the fundamental principles of my country’s foreign policy. Cameroon has reiterated its position by calling on the two parties to open negotiations to solve so that the ideals of peace, security and sustainable development which underpin our organization can triumph.”

The statements made by Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations have been received with mixed reactions from the Cameroonian cycle. Human rights defender Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor in an interview with the daily newspaper Le Jour and carried by Le Journal du Cameroun said: “We note that nothing has changed in the two regions in security crisis since 2016. Kidnappings, armed attacks, during which civilians and soldiers are killed, continue in both regions.”

I propose to the government to discuss with the separatist leaders who are in Cameroon to resolve the crisis definitively within the framework of informal meetings for example. The government can also consult members of civil society to find a definitive solution to this crisis. A reform of the republican institutions is also necessary,” Barrister Felix Nkongho said as a solution to the Anglophone crisis that has shown no sign of ending any time soon.

Violence escalated in 2017 in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions after teachers and lawyers protested alleged discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority. The military reacted with a crackdown and separatist groups took up weapons, claiming that they were protecting civilians.

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