The most recent attack in Cameroon that took place on Monday 6th November in Bamenda has led to the killing of two gendarmes-paramilitary forces. The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon continues to pose serious concern for the country, neighbouring countries and international community. The security situation, which occurs in northwestern and southwestern regions, has led to the burning of schools, detonation of homemade bombs in the main cities of Bamenda and Douala. About 2000 Cameroonians have fled into neighbouring Nigeria.
The Cameroonian government has blamed the separatists for the raid on a security checkpoint that killed the two security officers. Meanwhile, the International Crisis Group sounded an alarm in October that the situation in the country could lead to an armed uprising. Following the position of President Paul Biya that the unity of the country is non-negotiable and the call for dialogue, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, European Union and African Union have joined the call for dialogue and the need for respect of the rights of protesters.
What is going on in Cameroon depicts a new form of colonialism (neo-colonialism). The government should desist from suppressing political debate on Anglophone crisis, including on federalism. This reaction from the government, and several others, has aggravated violence in the country. The measures taken by the Cameroon government, especially the call for dialogue, has not recorded any success, due to the fact that it has been a positional type of dialogue. It is based on aggressive pursuit of interest and is typically adversarial and competitive. The intention has been to win instead rather than working towards a mutually beneficial outcome. Hence, the government should work towards collaborative dialogue and champion it. The process is collaborative in principle and the emphasis is on mutual understanding and feeling which aimed at building a sustainable relationship.
The grieved Anglophone in Cameroon make up 20% of the population. Most live in former British territories in the North-West and South-West regions. The agitation of the Cameroon’s Anglophone started in 2016 when the government refused to respond to Anglophone lawyers who were aggrieved at the nomination of magistrates who neither spoke English well enough nor were trained in British common law. The Northwestern and Southwestern Cameroonians have long protested marginalization from the French majority. An attempt at declaring a symbolic independence in early October led to clashes that resulted in deaths, injuries and mass arrests.
After repressing the Anglophone struggle at the beginning of the year, the government has made some adjustments, most notably restoring the internet and granting freedom of some (but not all) detained activists; however, the government continue to turn a deaf hear to the feeling of marginalization and humiliation. Discussion on federalism, which should be totally allowed, has landed some in jail. The Anglophone movement and struggle continue to be treated as illegitimate.
To avoid the bloodbath of continuous crisis, the government should start by acknowledging the root of grievances of Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. The Anglophone problem requires international intervention, especially as election is approaching. The contending parties should resume genuine dialogue, a collaborative one. Cameroon government should be prepared to restore and revive decentralization, not partial decentralization, into its system. If decentralization is revived and handled properly, it will reassure Anglophones that they have control over their own legal and educational system.
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