Barrister Agbor Nkongho Balla in his exceptional written statement to the United States Congress on June 27th, 2018 did stated categorically and explained to the Congress how both La Republique Du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons gained independence separately. Balla situated the UN April 21st I961 Independence votes of Southern Cameroons Independence by community of nations including the United States and even went further to informed the US that surprisingly La Republique Du Cameroun voted against the Independence of Southern Cameroons and turned around to lay claims to it. In fact, Balla presented it as a recolonisation project after all the UN charters were violated after the so called ‘joining’ agreement. In this edition, BaretaNews brings to you part of Balla’s written statement. Read on
History of French Cameroon
On 1st January 1960, the attached territory of French Cameroon, also a class B trust territory, achieved independence from France, though with a chronic ongoing anarchy and terrorism there notwithstanding. The French had decided that 1960 was to be the year of independence for its African colonies.
French Cameroun achieved independence under the name and style of La Republique du Cameroun (Present day name of the country) with Mr. Ahmadou Ahidjo as its President. It was admitted to membership of the United Nations on 20 September 1960. The name ‘Republique du Cameroun’ is variously translated into English as ‘Republic of Cameroon’ or sometimes simply as ‘Cameroon’.
Plebiscite Recommended by United Nations
On 13 March 1959 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1350 (XIII) recommending a plebiscite in the Southern Cameroons instead of the granting of independence right away. This was followed by another General Assembly resolution, 1352 (XIV) of 16 October 1959, ordering a plebiscite to be held in the Southern Cameroons “not later than March 1961”. The people of the Southern Cameroons were to pronounce themselves on ‘achieving independence’ by the two dead-end alternatives of ‘joining’ Nigeria or Republic of Cameroon.
Still that same year, some perceptive minds in the Trusteeship Council expressed concerns that after attaining independence on 1 January 1960 Republic of Cameroon could try to annex the Southern Cameroons. The Premier of French Cameroun, Mr. Ahidjo, denied any such intention or the possibility of any such action on the part of independent Republic of Cameroon. At the 849th meeting of the Fourth Committee of the UN, Mr. Ahidjo took the floor and gave the UN the solemn assurance that Republic of Cameroon is not annexationist. He declared: “We are not annexationists. … If our brothers of the British zone wish to unite with independent Cameroon, we are ready to discuss the matter with them, but we will do so on a footing of equality.” Of course this is the reverse on the field.
The United Nations, on April 21, 1961, voted for the independence of the British Southern Cameroons. According to the United Nations Resolution 1608(XV), the Southern Cameroons had a right to sovereignty. The UN General Assembly session voted an overwhelming 64 votes against 23 and 10 abstentions for independence of the Southern Cameroons to take effect on October, 1961. The United States voted for an independent Southern Cameroons. However, France hoodwinked the British and other state to push for the UN coordinated plebiscite.
Plebiscite Process Set in Motion
On 31 March 1960 the Trusteeship Council adopted Resolution 2013 (XXVI) requesting the UK Government “to take appropriate steps, in consultation with the authorities concerned, to ensure that the people of the Territory are fully informed, before the plebiscite, of the constitutional arrangements that would have to be made, at the appropriate time, for the implementation of the decisions taken at the plebiscite.”
The Secretary of State put forward the following interpretation as consistent with the plebiscite alternative of ‘joining’ Republic of Cameroon: “the Southern Cameroons and the Cameroon Republic would unite in a Federal United Cameroon Republic. The arrangements for the union would be worked out after the plebiscite by a conference consisting of representative delegations of equal status from the Republic and the Southern Cameroons. The United Nations and the United Kingdom would also be associated with this conference.” Both the Southern Cameroons and Republic du Cameroon agreed to this interpretation. The signed and published Agreement between the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon provided that in the event of the plebiscite vote going in favour of “achieving independence by joining” Republic of Cameroon, the following would be the broad terms of the ‘joining’:
1. The Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon would unite to create a Federal State to be called the ‘Federal Republic Cameroon’, outside the British Commonwealth and the French Community;
2. The component states of the Federation would be the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon, legally equal in status;
3. Each federated state would continue to conduct its affairs consistently with its colonially-inherited state-culture, with only a limited number of subject matters conceded to the union government;
4. Nationals of the federated states would enjoy Federal Cameroon nationality;
5. The Federation would have a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Federal Senate and a Federal National Assembly; and
6. Federal laws will only be enacted in such a way that no measures contrary to the interests of one state will be imposed upon it by the majority.
The Agreement also stipulated as follows:
1. Constitutional arrangements would be worked out after the plebiscite by a post-plebiscite conference comprising representative delegations of equal status from the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon, in association with the United Kingdom Government and the United Nations;
2. The post-plebiscite conference would have as its goal the fixing of time limits and conditions for the transfer of sovereignty powers to an organisation representing the future federation;
3. Those entrusted with the affairs of the united Cameroon would put the would-be federal constitution to the people of the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroon to pronounce themselves on it; and
The phrase “to achieve independence by joining Republic of Cameroon” was therefore clearly understood by all concerned (the UN, the UK Government, the Southern Cameroons Government, and the Republic of Cameroon Government) to mean that the Southern Cameroons would attain independence and then form, on the footing of legal equality, a federal union with Republic of Cameroon under an agreed federal constitution as defined in Resolution 1514(XV).
On 11 February 1961 the UN-supervised limited plebiscite took place in the Southern Cameroons. The vote was a plebiscite on political status to enable the people of the Southern Cameroons progress from full measure of self-government to national independence. The vote went in favour of achieving independence ‘by joining’ Republic of Cameroon rather than Nigeria.
Two months after the plebiscite vote, on 21 April 1961, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 1608 (XV) to give effect to the intention expressed by the people of the Southern Cameroons at the plebiscite. Republic of Cameroon, through its Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Charles Okala, made a protest against the taking of a vote on the independence of the Southern Cameroons and then voted against Resolution 1608. It speaks volumes that the overwhelming UN vote on the independence of the Southern Cameroons did not go down well with Republic of Cameroon.
In Resolution 1608 (XV) the General Assembly:
1. Endorsed the results of the plebiscite that “the people of the Southern Cameroons decided to achieve independence by joining the independent Republic of Cameroon”;
2. Considered that “the decision made by them through a democratic process under the supervision of the United Nations should be immediately implemented”;
3. Decided that “the Trusteeship Agreement of 13 December 1946 concerning the Cameroons under United Kingdom administration … be terminated, in accordance with Article 76 b of the Charter of the United Nations … with respect to the Southern Cameroons, on 1 October 1961, upon its joining the Republic of Cameroon”; and
4. Invited “the Administering Authority, the Government of the Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroon to initiate urgent discussions with a view to finalizing before 1 October 1961 the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented.”
These said ‘agreed and declared policies’ were not and have never been finalized.
By Barrister Agbor Nkongho aka Balla
To be continued