The Chairman of the African Union Commission (AU) and the Secretaries-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie have jointly visited Cameroon in a bid to assist the government in managing the three-year long war in the Anglophone regions of the country.
Speaking shortly after a visit to the Presidential Palace on Wednesday November 27th, where they were jointly received by President Paul Biya, AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said Cameroon is a member of their organizations and they cannot remain indifferent after three years of bloodshed. Meanwhile, Patricia Scotland of the Commonwealth and Louise Mushikiwabo of La Francophonie praised the government of Cameroon for the recently organized national dialogue but insisted that it needed to do more, encouraging a broad-based dialogue with all the groups to the conflict. They held that their organizations were not imposing any solution on the Cameroonian people and government but would accompany them in their search for peace so that the underlying causes of the conflict, as well as other political issues at stake, could be addressed.
In the course of their three day stay in Cameroon, the delegation also held meetings with Prime Minister Dion Ngute as well as civil society and political leaders including parties to the October 7th 2018 Presidential elections, whose results are still being contested by some including Prof Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) who was officially declared runner-up to Biya. The visit of the trio came less than 48 hours after Kamto and his party took the whole nation by surprise by announcing a boycott of the February 9th 2020 municipal and legislative elections, citing the war in Anglophone Cameroon as a major impediment to a free, fair and peaceful election. Kamto also held that the current electoral code favours President Biya’s ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM).
It is the first time in the history of Cameroon that three global personalities are jointly visiting the country, a fact that is indicative of the magnitude of a conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands of persons and displaced over half a million others. According to rights groups, over a million children have been out of school for the past three years and the country risk having a lost generation. Most of the human rights violations were attributed to the military, which ensured that at the beginning of the year the U.S government suspended some vital military aid to Cameroon. In November, President Donald Trump also announced that Cameroon would be suspended from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which accords preferential treatment of Cameroonian goods in the U.S market.
With the upcoming legislative and local elections announced for February 2020, there is likely going to be an upsurge in violence and millions of persons would be disenfranchised which explains the need for intervention by leaders of these three organizations to savage the situation before it further mutates into something worst engulfing the entire sub region.
For three years now Cameroon’s economy, which has largely depended on the Anglophone regions, has crumbled and the country’s largest agro-industrial complex, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), is near closure. National and international rights groups and states have urged the government to engage in broad-based dialogue with Anglophone separatists fighting for a separate state of theirs, called Ambazonia. However, government has engaged force and in October it organized a National Dialogue void of the major separatist leaders, some of whom have been jailed in the country’s capital, Yaoundé while others are on exile. Two months after the dialogue, the violence and daily killings have remained unabated this is why more pressure is being brought on the Yaoundé authorities to talk directly to the separatist leaders. The separatist leaders have welcomed talks but say it must be done in a neutral environment, moderated by a third party and in the presence of the UN, the U.S and Cameroon’s former colonial masters including France, Britain and Germany.