It came as a surprise to a few when President Paul Biya was last year reelected for another seven-year mandate, a victory the MRC party till date maintains was stolen from their flagbearer, Prof. Maurice Kamto.
Paul Biya in a campaign visit to the Far North region stated that the Boko Haram sect had been kicked out of Cameroon soil, leaving the Anglophone Crisis as the only elephant in the room.Since taking over his new mandate however, things seem to have worsened as the crisis keeps deteriorating, despite the many cosmetic measures put in place. The UNICEF Spokesperson Toby Fricker in June said some 1.3 million people, including around 650,000 children, were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
Around 450,000 of these people, half of whom are children, are internally displaced as thousands lack access to essential services such as healthcare and safe drinking water, he added.Thousands have also been killed, with hundreds of thousands displaced in other parts of the nation and beyond, making it hard to believe that it was once one of Africa’s most peaceful nation.
Even with the Major National Dialogue that was staged in Yaoundé last month and the Special Status it prescribed for Anglophones, the woes only seem to be increasing as many continue to insist that the core issues are still being neglected.
Prior to the dialogue, another measure the Biya regime employed was the putting in place of a Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission and later a National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee, NDDR, all of which have failed to yield fruits. Shortly after its inception, the NDDR seemed to be doing the trick, with several supposed separatist fighters coming out in the open to drop their arms.It eventually turned out however that some of the cases might have been staged, but what was worse was the backlash that followed, with several ‘former fighters’ killed, some as early as 24 hours after dropping their weapons.Another facet of the Biya regime’s handling of the Anglophone Crisis is the infamous raids carried out in villages in the North West and South West regions. The raids which have sometimes seen villages reduced to ashes and non fighters killed after the dialogue seem to have rather increased, with more and more atrocities recorded.In May, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA noted that: “Since the escalation of the Anglophone Crisis and the violent repressed by the Cameroon government authorities in 2016, a recorded total of 206 (two hundred and six) villages both in the North West and the South West Regions of Cameroon have been raided and partially or severely burnt down by state defense forces in an attempt to crackdown on armed separatists”.When Biya came to power, it signified a new dawn in the political landscape of the country, with a lot of expectations including a free press and more room for opposition. 37 years down the line however, one of the actions he would be most remembered for, is the rudeless battles with the opposition and press that have oftentimes resulted in arrests and detention and even deaths.One of the most notable is the arrest and detention of the MRC’s Maurice Kamto after the presidential elections, a heavy handed response the opposition, the press and non regime conformists have always received.
Though they were eventually released, the mark had been left, like that of the arrest of separatist leader, Ayuk Tabe and others as well as the life sentences handed them.Despite its many visible divisions, Cameroon’s unity is always portrayed when it comes to sports, football in particular. It is for this reason that the nation seemed divided than ever after the nation failed to host the African Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019. Not only did it not show the level to which holders of public offices are given the laxity to do as they please without any repercussions.
“A man never defecates where he hides from the rain,” a popular adage goes.
Many however say this is not the case with the Biya regime which has largely for 37 years been watered, groomed and supported by Anglophone brains. From General Yenwo Ivo’s role in the 1984 abortive coup d’etat to Fru Ndi’s denial to ‘misbehave’ after the 1992 elections and many more instances, most of his achievements pundits argue have Anglophones written all over them.The tough stance on the Anglophone Crisis therefore comes as a surprise to many who expected the Fon of Fons to repay the people of his “second home “.
All this by no means indicates that things are better on the other side of the Mungo. One of the most renowned movements so far has been the Movement Anti Sardinade, BAS that came up following last year’s post electoral disputes. Made up mostly of Cameroonians in the Diaspora, the group has not made the Head of State and his government members’ lives stay abroad any better. From trolling them in several European nations to holding massive rallies, they have shown the world that Cameroon is not the “small paradise” many thought it was.As the nation marks 37 years of a single regime in power, everyone expects a lot including the much postponed council and parliamentary elections as well as the implementation of the resolutions of the Major National Dialogue. Regardless of whether or not they come and in what manner, more seems to be in stock for not just the president alone but with the nation as a whole, as pressure mounts for the status quo to change.
Biya may be remembered for the green tree accord that saw Bakassi given to Cameroon among other achievements, but will obviously go down into history as the president who’s regime’s heavy handed response to the plea of a people led to untold suffering and death of many. He will be recalled for multiparty politics in Cameroon but also for the blood of youths shed on the streets and the old burnt in the comfort of their homes.The question on the minds of many now is whether he will use his “force of experience” to be recalled as the president that put an end to one of the most deadly crises the nation has ever faced.