Swiss-Led Negotiations: Consortium Urges Caution, Return to the Drawing Board
The Consortium has been following diplomatic events relating to the former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons’ struggle for the restoration of her independence and hereby expresses concerns on the purported capacity building workshop initiated by the Swiss Government through a Geneva-based organization, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD). The Consortium, in a previous press release (N0. 14/06) raised a red flag and decided not to send representatives to the supposed capacity building workshop which held in Geneva from June 25 to 27, 2019 on the grounds that due process was not followed.
We have observed that the mode of operation of HD consists in brainwashing through purported capacity building, divide-and-rule as a method of obtaining a mediation mandate, slander of other international stakeholders and blackmail of Southern Cameroons groups and faction leaders and an incomprehensible insistence on the need for secrecy where transparency should be the norm. This approach has created suspicions that HD is indeed acting on behalf of the government of the Republic of Cameroun in its desire to tone down international pressure while at the same time pursuing the massacre of unarmed civilians in the former UN Trust Territory of the British Southern Cameroons in all tranquility. This would enable them to make negotiations at some point no longer necessary.
In as much as The Consortium believes in the virtues of negotiations and holds strongly, like other movements, groups, and organizations in this liberation struggle, that permanent peace between the former UN Trust Territory of the British Southern Cameroons and the annexationist Republic of Cameroun can only be achieved through a negotiated settlement in the presence of third parties. It also believes that the process leading to such negotiation must be open and transparent.
The Consortium holds this truth to be self-evident that a credible mediator must exhibit a clear ability to unite all parties to a conflict without inflicting harm to needed trust. In this regard, the mediator exhibit neutrality, effective planning, collaboration, transparency and clarity of purpose that are needed to build and sustain trust. Trust is indispensable in the conduct of a mediation process as it guarantees acceptability of the outcome of the ensuing negotiations by all parties involved.
Where we Differ
So far, the Swiss-led mediation effort falls short of this internationally recognized blueprint. It is not certain that Southern Cameroons parties to the said process have seen the mandate Yaounde is supposed to have given to the Swiss government. It is also unclear if a framework for the mediation process was drawn up, carefully examined in relation to the factional context, before being approved on behalf of the suffering and dying masses of Southern Cameroons. The divide-and-rule tactic adopted by HD, marked by mudslinging and demonization of other interested international actors in order to cement its standing as the sole mediator does not, and will not guarantee a fair process and most importantly, the trust of the people of Southern Cameroons. Hence, this may not guarantee the acceptability of the outcome.
The Consortium notes with dismay, that almost two weeks since the Swiss-led effort was announced and applauded by some key actors on the international scene, no such framework document has been presented to the people of Southern Cameroons for appraisal. At the same time, not even Yaounde, which the Swiss government claims have given them a mandate, has made any official comment in that regard.
The Way Forward
As a member organization of the Southern Cameroons Liberation Council (SCLC), The Consortium respects the decision of other platform members that adhered to the initiative but will continue to maintain its cautious stance. We will also continue to educate the masses on the shortcomings of the Swiss-led process, especially at this foundational stage, insisting on a thorough assessment, transparent planning and preparatory requirements that need to be addressed. This is the beauty of the SCLC; a platform in which members are free to hold diverse opinions but have only the core interest of our people at heart. Our collective focus here is on either total self-determination for a people who have already had their fair share of hell for almost a century.
The Consortium does not subscribe to the imposition of mono-mediation through crooked and unorthodox means. The Republic of Cameroun is noted for under-the-table dealings and has always refused to examine and address the root causes of this conflict. Mono-mediation under such circumstances will be suicidal.
The Consortium in this regard opts for and calls on the entire civil society of the Southern Cameroons that make up its membership, to stand for multi-mediation with all the advantages that come with it: openness, clarity, diversity, and transparency. We believe in, and reaffirm our stance for a negotiated solution to end the genocidal war declared on our people through an inclusive process that guarantees fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, respect for international instruments enacted by the United Nations, the African Union and other relevant international bodies. The Consortium further believes in the promotion of justice and the internationally recognized right of the people of the former UN Trust Territory of British Southern Cameroons to independence enshrined in UNGA Resolution 1608 (XV) of April 21, 1961.