For the last three years, a lot of pressure has been on the Cameroon government to engage in open and frank dialogue with Ambazonian separatists to bring an end to the Anglophone crisis which is now in its fourth year. The crisis which morphed into an armed conflict in 2017 has claimed over 3000 lives and displaced over one million persons.
In a letter to President Paul Biya on Monday, February 17th 2020, 16 Roman Catholic Bishops from different parts of the world have once more urged President Biya to ensure his government participates in proposed Swiss-led peace talks aimed at ending the violence in the restive North-West and South-West regions.
Motivated by their concern about the plights of the civilian population, the stability and prosperity of Cameroon, the bishops say they are impartial in their request.
“Violence and atrocities on all sides have forced 656,000 Anglophone Cameroonians from their homes, kept 800,000 children from school (including 400,000 from Catholic schools), caused 50,000 people to flee to Nigeria, destroyed hundreds of villages and resulted in a death toll of at least 2,000” their letter reads.
“Each of these lives” the bishops adds “is precious, and we mourn their suffering and wish to prevent more loss of life and innocence”.
“There will be no military victory for any side. A lasting solution to Cameroon’s problems must come from a mediated process that includes Anglophone armed-separatist groups and nonviolent civil-society leaders. If all parties treat each other as they wish to be treated, a solution is possible” they tell President Paul Biya.
Despite last year’s Major National Dialogue, the clergymen note that “it did not stop the violence. We believe the proposed Swiss-led talks offer the best path to an appropriate political solution through inclusive negotiations”.
“The success of these talks will be critical in Cameroon’s journey towards ensuring peace and your legacy as an effective leader in a troubled region,” they tell the Head of state, adding that a spirit of cooperation, pragmatism, and realism from all stakeholders “is what the people of Cameroon, your sons and daughters, God’s children, expect and deserve”.
“Only true peace will allow Catholic dioceses, clinics, and schools to once again minister safely to the blessed congregants and citizens of Anglophone Cameroon” they add.
The bishops’ recent plea comes barely days after government soldiers engaged in a massacre in Ngar, a village in Donga Mantung Division, North West region. Despite government’s denial of responsibility for the act in contradictory statements, soldiers hours back stormed Kuk village, killing more civilians.
President Paul Biya it is worth mentioning is a member of the Roman Catholic church.