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CHRONICLES of the Anglophone Problem: The Old Megalomaniac and His March toward Disaster…










CHRONICLES of the Anglophone Problem: The Old Megalomaniac and His March toward Disaster…

— by Mola Lyombe Eko

In less than two years, the Anglophone problem in Cameroon has degenerated from simple political demands for change, to yet another African armed conflict complete with human rights violations: imprisonment of political leaders and demonstrators, wanton killings of innocent civilians, and collective punishment (curfews, mass expulsions, arrests, and destruction of whole villages), leading to tens of thousands of refugees seeking asylum and safety in Nigeria. The Ambazonians are responding with attacks on the military and kidnapping of government officials. We are on a downward spiral. There is no end in sight in the short run.

Some day, when historians ask: “How did Cameroon get to such a catastrophic situation?” What led to the disintegration of what had once been a peaceful country? The finger of history will point in one unmistakable direction–Paul Barthélemy Biya bi Mvondo, the Megalomaniac of Mvomeka’a. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a megalomaniac as: “A person who has an obsessive desire for power, a person who suffers delusions of their own power or importance.” One does not need to be a trained psychiatrist to know that Paul Biya is an 85 year-old megalomaniac who is so intoxicated with power, rule-by-decree, and patronage that 35 years of corruption and dictatorship is not enough.

Biya’s mishandling of the Anglophone problem has been nothing short of unbelievably megalomaniacal and treasonous. The record shows that the man is so full of himself he has turned a deaf ear to all calls for dialogue and change. Like all megalomaniacs, Biya lives in his own parallel universe and has no clue how real Cameroonians suffer die from his policies. He believes that he controls time; that he can stop the tides; that he can, Like Jesus Christ, make the wind and the waves to him. This is the reason for his march of folly.

Biya is so narcissistic that he has turned a deaf ear to all and sundry. When Anglophone lawyers and teachers went on strike in October 2016, Biya opted to use extreme military force to solve what was essentially a political problem. Like a man who uses a sledge hammer to kill a mosquito on his foot, he used maximum, self-destructive force, hoping to subdue and conquer the 8 million Anglophones who had dared call for change. It did not work. He banned the Consortium of Anglophone Civil Society, and imprisoned its leaders. That did not stop the uprising. Having lost sight of his political objectives and lacking an exit strategy, Biya redoubled his repressive efforts on the road to no where.

When things started to get out of hand in Bamenda, Buea and elsewhere, calls started coming in from the international community for Biya to dialogue with Anglophones. When President Biya went to the Vatican to visit Pope Francis on March 23, 2017, the Pope told Biya, a man who is supposed to a Catholic, to dialogue with Anglophones and “respect human and minority rights” of Cameroonians! (diplomatic language for: “stop killing Anglophones!”). Since Biya is so full of himself, he turned a deaf ear to the Pope. That same week, UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, phoned Biya to have a chat on the Anglophone problem after an unsuccessful visit to Cameroon by the UN representative for the Central Africa region, Mr. Fall. Biya refused to take the call of the UN Secretary General. The UN envoy, Mr. Fall visited Cameroon a few more times to try to kick off a dialogue. Biya turned a deaf ear and the UN efforts came to a standstill.

If the mountain cannot come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. On 27thOctober 2017, UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, came to Yaoundé to meet Biya. They discussed the Anglophone problem, among other issues. Biya turned a deaf ear to the UN scribe calls for dialogue. Next in line was the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, who visited Cameroon from 18-22 December, 2017 and went through the motions of looking into the Anglophone problem. Nothing came out of the visit. Scotland did not even bother to write a report on the Anglophone problem. Next in line was Harriett Baldwin, the UK Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Biya did not even bother to meet Baldwin. He sent his lap dog, Yang Philemon to go through the motions of holding talks. That was the end of the story.

Southern Cameroon is under oppressive military occupation. Hundreds of unarmed civilians have been killed, hundreds imprisoned, tortured and tried before the kangaroo court called the Yaoundé Military Tribunal. The Cameroon army and gendarmes have razed whole villages to the ground as collective punishment for retaliatory attacks by resistance groups. The situation in Cameroon is now worse than square one. An armed conflict is in the offing, and thousands of refugees have now fled for safety to Nigeria.

How has Biya been able to defy the international community and carry out what amounts to human rights violations and crimes against humanity with impunity? A number of factors have emboldened Biya to ignore the Anglophone problem:
1. The Swiss carte blanche: Switzerland has been Biya’s principal enabler. Despite its human rights rhetoric, Switzerland did nothing when it became clear that Biya masterminded the 1st October 2017 massacres from Swiss territory–his luxurious presidential suite at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva. Biya has been a very lucrative Swiss hotel and banking client. Switzerland will not lift a finger against Biya!
2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided funds to replenish the empty coffers of the regime. It not clear whether Christine Lagarde of the IMF can continue to fund Biya’s very expensive war against Anglophones indefinitely.
3. Emmanuel Macron provides aid, equipment, and training to the Cameroonian armed forces and gendarmes who have wreaked havoc in Southern Cameroon. French human rights rhetoric is only that–rhetoric. French economic interests always trump human rights in Africa.
4. The Nigerian government has essentially been an accomplice to the atrocities of the Biya regime. The Nigeria people have been sympathetic but not their government.

At the end of the day, time is the enemy of even the most genocidal megalomaniacs –ask Hitler, Mengistu, Idi Amin, and Mugabe. At 85, Biya is not too far from joining the trash heap of history.
— Mola Eko

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