Worried about the deterioration of the situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Emmanuel Macron has just called Paul Biya to order. The Cameroonian head of state has begun to release ballast. For a real solution to emerge, the involvement of the United Nations is however essential, according to an English-speaking African Union.
Presented by the Cameroonian head of state as a hand extended to the English speakers, with the exception of Ambazonian leaders, still imprisoned, the foundations of the “Great National Dialogue”, completed on October 4 in Yaounde, have the ambition to bring peace in both Southwest and Northwest regions. But this “Biyalogue”, as the Cameroonians have been very derisive, raises many concerns, including from the Elysee.
During a bilateral meeting, this Thursday, October 10 in Lyon – on the sidelines of the meeting of the Fund for the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, where were invited several African heads of state – Emmanuel Macron had Elsewhere encouraged his Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya to “really implement” this political dialogue. He also welcomed the release of the main opposition leader Maurice Kamto and a hundred members of his party, the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC). Nothing has pierced the exact content of exchanges for about forty minutes between the two Presidents but according to Elyos sources, this first head-to-head would have allowed a rapprochement between Paris and Yaounde. Relations between the two countries had recently become complicated
For many observers, after the situation in the Sahel, it is the future of Cameroon which, in Africa, most preoccupies the Élysée. For proof: the recent setbacks of the Bolloré group in the Cameroonian maritime and rail transport as well as the departure of the ambassador Gilles Thibault, in full summer period. His successor, Christophe Guilhou, took office on July 29, 2019, even before the annual Conference of Ambassadors in Paris at the end of August. This is rare and shows the urgency with which he was dispatched to Yaoundé.
During his time at the International Organization of La Francophonie, where he was Director of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (2013-2015), the French diplomat became familiar with the Anglophone crisis and had established professional relations with many Cameroonian intellectuals, including Maurice Kamto. His recent visits to the Littoral and Southwest Regions have not gone unnoticed, including his tete-a-tete with religious, political and trade union leaders of all stripes.
Separatist crisis in Cameroon, a big dialogue for nothing?
In the absence of a return to federalism demanded by many English-speaking personalities, President Paul Biya and his supporters have lathered “the granting of a special status to the North-West and South-West regions and the elimination of the status delegate of the appointed government provided for under the special regime applicable to certain agglomerations”.
It was also expected that state guardianship would be “substantially alleviated”. And, according to the Commission on Decentralization – one of eight to have worked on an agenda carefully chosen beforehand by the Cameroonian President, who will also have the last word for the effective implementation of the measures announced – that “A range of 10% to 15% of government revenue will be transferred to local governments.”
Many critics were pleased with this high mass, organized under international pressure to try to solve the ups and downs of a crisis at the outset corporatist and later separatist. This conflict now threatens to turn into civil war as clumsiness has been accumulated in three years. The choice of the place first: the capital Yaounde, to hold these bases. Then of the person: the Prime Minister, while a foreign personality of good offices or even an international organization of mediation would, without doubt, have been more consensual.
In addition, a national dialogue without the main opponents is doomed from the start. Julius Ayuk Tabe – one of the leading leaders of the Ambazonian separatists who was sentenced with nine of his deputies on 20 August 2019 to life imprisonment and a colossal fine – was not present. Not to mention the absence of Maurice Kamto, certainly released but the 5 October only, that is to say the day after the end of the assizes. Finally, the requirement of Yaoundé that the separatists deposit their weapons beforehand is akin to capitulation if there is not a neutral force of UN or African Union type to guarantee a freeze of confrontations during the holding of negotiations.
Senior official of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Denis Atemnkeng describes himself as an “African deeply interested in working for peace”. Originally from the English-speaking regions, he refuses to give details about him for fear of reprisals against his family because, alas, he deplores, “we are at war!”. Since the beginning of the conflict between the two Cameroon, he has written a lot and proposed solutions to the international community, without really being heard until then. Except, perhaps, by the United States whose involvement in trying to resolve this conflict by putting pressure on Paul Biya has been very noticed in Western chancelleries. Washington fears, indeed, a risk of contamination with neighboring Nigeria.
In his exclusive interview with Sputnik, Denis Atemnkeng takes up and develops the theses he defended in an article published in May 2019 in Ambanews24 concerning the historic responsibility of the United Nations in the current conflict. Convinced that he must try everything within the pan-African institution for which he works, and whose first task is to establish peace in Africa, he wants to make public the injustice that he suffered, according to him. Southern Cameroon, then under British rule, at the time of decolonization. And thus contribute to the return of a lasting peace in the region.