AU offers to Negotiate: Calls for Restraint and Effective Dialogue by the Government
In a Press statement issued on the 18th January 2017, African Union (AU) expressed concern in the ongoing West Cameroon struggle. The Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said she is following the situation and is ready to assist the government of Cameroun in finding lasting solutions to the problems raised by West Cameroonians. In this regard, the Chairperson encourages the continuation of an effective dialogue that had been initiated by both the government and West Cameroonians through a consensus between both parties has failed severally. It should be noted that the grievances raised by the Lawyers, Teachers and the people included among other issues a two Federation or complete sovereignty. Based on the fact that government’s proposed solutions are not in accordance with the people’s demands, ghost town operations were declared all over West Cameroon.
Also, the Chairperson regrets the loss of lives and destruction of properties, as well as the closing of schools and other institutions in West Cameroon. It should be noted that since the break of the crisis, several lives have been lost, several West Cameroonians have been arrested and detained including leaders of the Anglophone Consortium Barrister Nkongho Felix and Dr. Fontem Neba. In this regard, the AU Chairperson calls for restraint in all forms of violence and arbitrary arrests and emphasized the support and respect for the rule of law and the right to peaceful demonstrations which are critical principles of democracy.
AU’s commission statement came few hours after the government had issued a ban on the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, the SCNC and other pressure groups and civil societies in West Cameroon. It should be recalled that these demonstrations have been going on for several months and all tactics by the government to push teachers and lawyers to resume duty have proved abortive and have met with severe non-violent resistance from protesters who argue that the government is yet to demonstrate good faith to their grievances.
The AU statement gives assurance to West Cameroonians who are determined to continue with their peaceful demonstrations. At present, a one-month ghost town operation has been declared by the Consortium. Meanwhile, their enthusiasm towards the struggle is enforced each passing day. The people of West Cameroon, therefore, call on other international organizations like the United Nations and the European Union to intervene.
Akame Gerald with contributions from Mark Bareta.