The 33rd African Union Summit is set to begin on Sunday, the same day Cameroonians go to the polls to elect their parliamentarians and local repesentatives.
To Human Rights advocate and lawyer, Nkongho Felix Agbor, it should be an opportunity to discuss the raging conflict in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, which has left over three thousand dead.
In an opinion piece he authored with Rebecca Tinsley published on DW Africa, they highlight why, the African Union should not ignore the bloody crisis in Cameroon.
Tracing the history of the crisis, they note that due to the violence “the economy is at a stand-still, and normal life is impossible for many of the 5 million residents of the Northwest and Southwest”.
To Rebecca Tinsley who is a journalist, human rights activist and Nkongho Felix Agbor, “If the AU is to gain legitimacy in the eyes of African citizens, it must prove it exists not for the well-padded political and business elite, but to speak the truth when one of its members violates the founding principles of the AU”.
Cameroon to them, “deserves more than the slap on the wrist delivered in a 2018 AU resolution”.
“The only way forward for Cameroon is through inclusive peace negotiations between the government and both moderate and extremist Anglophone voices” they state.
“The AU summit — whose 2020 theme is “Silencing the Guns” for development —should make it clear to the Cameroonian government and the armed separatist groups that there will be consequences if they refuse to participate in the proposed Swiss-led peace talks, and the upcoming Africa Forum symposium as well” they propose, adding that “the AU’s African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is to mean anything, it must apply to a situation like Cameroon’s”.
Ahead of Sunday’s polls and the AU Summit, hundreds have exited the conflict hit regions for fear of the unknown following a lockdown announced by Ambazonian fighters, fighting for an independent state in Anglophone regions since 2016.
Though the sit-home move is not observed in all the towns, residents in other parts of the restive regions have witnessed gunshots and with many complaining of military brutality on the civilians populations.