By Tata Mbunwe
Pope Francis’s envoy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has rounded off his brief visit to Cameroon where he has prescribed peace and reconciliation between government and separatist fighters as a remedy to the armed conflict raging in the Northwest and Southwest regions for over three years now.
Cardinal Pietro’s visit to Cameroon this January was timely, given that at least 25 civilian and military men’s lives have been lost in the conflict in four incidents witnessed at the start of 2021.
Before visiting the Archdiocese of Bamenda, Cardinal Parolin first met with President Biya on January 29, where he said peace, and not war, is the solution to the conflict.
“What we are looking forward to is reconciliation and peace, especially in this present situation where there are many other crises starting from the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to achieve peace. It is the only condition to grow and achieve sustainable development everywhere,” Cardinal Parolin said during his visit to the Unity Palace on Friday.
Peace, may, however, remain illusionary if the Pope’s advice – dropping arms, reconciliation, and peace – is not heeded by the authorities and the separatist fighters.
Some Cameroonians in the English-speaking regions, who seemed weary of insecurity and numerous lockdowns, especially during the CHAN competition, rekindled their hopes for a consoling message from the Pope that would bring peace in the regions.
Since the start of 2021, conflict has not been abated in the regions with separatist fighters killing at least eight military men in two attacks, with about 15 civilians killed in incidents in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
Separatists launched two attacks in Limbe: one on January 14 where they damaged road construction equipment KJBTP company and then on Jan. 25 when a bomb explosion injured police officers at a check point.
This was after separatist leaders had warned against on-going CHAN matches being organized in the Southwest town of Limbe, claiming it is part of the State of Ambazonia, a breakaway country being formed from the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
These security incidents, alongside killings, have happened just before the coming of the Pope’s peace envoy.
Amid accusations from separatist, the Vatican’s envoy has said they are concerned about a return to peace in the Anglophone regions.
He told President Biya that their wish is that all Christians, traditional rulers, civil society and separatist fighters should heed the Vatican’s peace and reconciliation message.
*Hundreds Of Catholic Faithful snubbed Lockdown To Welcome Cardinal Parolin*
Hundreds of Catholics, however, had defied a separatist-imposed lockdown on Sunday to welcome the prelate who adorned Archbishop Andrew Fuanya Nkea with Pallium from the Pope, a liturgical vestment that symbolizes his participation in Papal authority.
While in Bamenda on Saturday, January 30, the Cardinal said Amba boys should drop their arms, adding that Cameroonians should reconcile with government and address their differences.
Separatists spokesperson, Chris Anu, had called for a lockdown in the two English-speaking regions as the Cardinal planned to visit Bamenda.
Some of the separatist leaders had threatened individuals who would turn out to welcome him, stating that the Catholic Church has been silent over government’s atrocities in the Northwest and Southwest regions.