Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh of the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) has proposed that government charts a path forward to end the war in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon. The war, he noted, has caused a lot of hatred and discord, and would require a daunting process to get the population to buy into any measures to end it.
In an interview granted to The Voice newspaper, Dr. Fomunyoh said it was a pity it has taken so long for some government officials to acknowledge the existence of a problem, talk less of a solution.
“… it has taken National Assembly Speaker Cavaye Djibril five full years to realize that thousands of people have been killed in the North West and South West Regions, that a million are now displaced either internally or as refugees and hundreds of villages and homes have been burnt or destroyed”, he said, adding “had the Speaker listened to Hon. Joseph Wirba in 2016, or had he sent parliamentary teams of inquiry into the regions all these five years or himself visited some of the areas, perhaps he would speak with more credibility on the matter.”
He reiterated his stance on the armed conflict, noting that the government’s lone choice, should be to seek an amicable solution before it gets any worse. To him, “aiming for a military solution is a setup for failure because to win militarily, government forces will have to kill, but each person killed is a family or village or community antagonized.”
Due to the 5-year-long violence, families on both sides of the divide, Dr. Fomunyoh noted, have had and continue to have casualties. With the government having the moral duty to maintain sanity, “the right thing to do right now is to have a cease-fire, release all prisoners and detainees, and open up facilitated negotiations over the root causes of the alienation and conflict,’ he proposed.
“… in 2018, I warned that the armed conflict would have a dehumanizing effect on us all, and you can see today, the loss of life, including of children, civilians, young men, and people in uniform is fast becoming part of normalcy. We must take concrete measures to reverse course,” Dr. Fomunyoh warned.
Genuine dialogue is a must
Dr. Fomunyoh did not fail to address the 2019 Major National Dialogue held in Yaounde. The event, according to him, fell short in several regards including acknowledgment and failure to bring some stakeholders to the table.
“People,” he said, “are still yearning for their voices to be heard and their dignity and sense of belonging to be restored.”
“A crisis of this magnitude cannot be resolved by one individual, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I could make a substantive contribution to its resolution under the right circumstances and alongside other well-intentioned individuals and social and political actors,” he went on.
To this effect, he stated, “certain conditions would have to be met, several confidences building measures would have to be taken and all parties must be open to speaking frankly about the hard facts and difficult questions that now divide us.”
Among actions needed to stop the chaos, he suggested, were immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, a release of political prisoners and detainees, a stop to arbitrary arrests, harassment, and extrajudicial killings, agreement on a neutral third-party facilitator who can shepherd the negotiations among the warring parties or factions, a review of the rules of engagement for security service still deployed in the two regions, and various confidence-building measures that can create an enabling environment for meaningful dialogue.
“In the past five years, the conduct of this war has engendered very hard feelings of bitterness, disaffection, and disenchantment within Anglophone communities, and any agreement that is arrived at in the course of a negotiated process would have to be sold back to the population to get their buy-in,” Dr. Fomunyoh remarked.
In response to Dr. Fomunyoh’s position, former US diplomat, Tibor Nagy said the Cameroon government continues to push to the limit. The government’s current policies, he predicted, “will speed the creation of Ambazonia.”
“‘Pacification’ means bringing peace, not scorched earth. The military approach only creates more secessionists. Past precedents prove bullets delay, not kill the peoples’ will,” he added.
(C) Mimi Mefo Info