By Tata Mbunwe
The right to selfdetermination of the people of Southern Cameroons was one of the striking resolutions of a recent online international conference meant to discuss the armed conflict in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions.
Self-determination involves being able to choose the form of State and the type of government Southern Cameroonians want, the conference resolutions reads.
“… The People of the Southern Cameroons should be able to determine the form of state that they want… should be able to determine the type of governance system they want.”
The conference, attended on Zoom by over 1,000 Southern Cameroonians, was organised by the Coalition for Dialogue, an organisation that advocates for dialogue as a means of resolving the four-year conflict.
Other key resolutions of the conference include a call for an immediate ceasefire; a UN-mandated fact-finding mission; the release of all prisoners associated with the armed conflict; the putting in place of a UN-mandated third party mediation process; and an honest mediated settlement addressing the root cause(s) of the conflict.
“There is an urgent need for dialogue and negotiation as well as an urgent need for a mediated and supervised ceasefire to pave a way forward for mediated negotiations,” stated the Coalition for Dialogue in a summary document on the conference.
The conference was meant to be a physical meeting but was confined to an online event due to travel restrictions posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
But the virtual confinement did not stop 1,297 Southern Cameroonians from attending it.
362 non-Southern Cameroonians also attended the event with 100,000 people following the live streaming of the conference.
Participants discussed the terms of a possible ceasefire and reconstruction how economic reconstruction could be carried with the help of countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
While discussing on the root causes of the armed conflict, issues of marginalisation featured with further discussions on very low expenditure on education and economic neglect of the English-speaking regions.
In 2018-2019, Cameroon Government spent just 3.13 percent of its gross domestic product on education as opposed to other lower middle income countries such as Sierra Leone, Costa Rica and Somalia, which spent 7.1 percent of their GDPs on education.
The state of Southern Cameroonian IDPs and refugees was also discussed and it was realised that 900,000 persons from the regions are internally displaced, with 60,000 others as refugees in Nigeria.