PRESS RELEASE No. 003
GROWING PUBLIC INTEREST IN THE HOLDING OF A NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CRISIS IN THE ANGLOPHONE (NORTHWEST AND SOUTHWEST) REGIONS OF CAMEROON
The ANGLOPHONE DIALOGUE FORUM (ADF) is a network of individuals and organizationsof Anglophone Cameroon origin based at home and abroad who are committed to finding an immediate and lasting solution to the socio-political crisis that has gripped the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon since October 2016 through a frank and comprehensive national dialogue.
The ADF notes with deep satisfaction the growing public interest in, and support for, the national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis project initiated by civil society, in all the ten regions of Cameroon and among Cameroonians of the diaspora. This enthusiasm for a national dialogue is exhibited within State institutions and in the various economic, social, religious, cultural, women and youth constituencies, and runs across political party lines. It stems from the general realisation that the measures so far taken by state authorities have not succeeded to end the Anglophone crisis because they have been limited to the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism and to certain aspects of the Anglophone sub-systemsof education and of justice based on the common law.
These measures do not touch the many other causes of the pervasive sense of domination and marginalisation that continues to be felt by the populations of the Anglophone (Southwest and Northwest) regions of our country; nor have they responded to the multiple calls for the immediate release of the over one hundred Anglophone lawyers, teachers, journalists, students, pupils and activists who were arbitrarily and indiscriminately arrested in the Anglophone Southwest and Northwest regions and taken to Yaounde to be tried in French by a military court staffed entirely by Francophone Cameroonians. In these circumstances, a frank and comprehensive national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis appears to be the best avenue to a global and lasting solution to the crisis.
The ADF believes that the successful implementation of the national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis project initiated by civil society calls for the participation of, and mutual trust and frank collaboration between, the Government, national and local political leaders such as senators, members of the National Assembly, mayors and local councillors, political parties, traditional rulers, religious authorities, professional associations, trade unions, women’s organisations, youth organisations and other civil society stakeholders. The ADF also believes that the National Commission on the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism could, if called upon to do so, play a key role in the organisation and conduct of the much-needed national dialogue, in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the decree of 23 January 2017 establishing it, which provides that this Commission may perform, among others, “any other task assigned to it by the President of the Republic, including mediation”.
The ADF does not foresee any obstacle to the convening and holding of the necessary national dialogue on the crisis in the Anglophone (Northwest and Southwest) regions of our country. As already mentioned, the enthusiasm of Cameroonians in all the ten regions and in the diaspora for this dialogue is growing. In addition, the President of the Republic and Head of State, in his end-of-year address to the Nation on 31 December 2016, said several times that ‘frank dialogue’ was the appropriate way to find lasting solutions to problems and invited Cameroonians not only to ‘listen to each other’ but also to ‘remain open to constructive ideas’. The national dialogue would offer Cameroonians the best forum to do this. The Head of State’s call for dialogue was echoed through similar calls by prominent voices at home and in the international community, including the Speakers of the Senate and of the National Assembly, leaders of political parties, high-level leaders of Christian and Moslem communities in Cameroon, associations of traditional rulers, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his Special Representative for Central Africa, the President of the African Union Commission and the heads of prominent diplomatic missions in Cameroon. Furthermore, there is a salutary precedent for the expected national dialogue in that, in similar circumstances, the Head of State, President Paul Biya, convened the Yaounde Tripartite Conference of November 1991. Nothing can stop him from doing the same in the present circumstances.
The ADF intends, therefore, to intensify and relentlessly pursue its advocacy for the joint implementation, by all stakeholders, of the national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis project that was initiated by civil society in March 2017. It would be recalled that, on the eve of the parliamentary session that opened on 13 March 2017, in a memorandum dated 6 March 2017 addressed to all Senators, Members of the National Assembly and Traditional Rulers of the Southwest and Northwest regions, the Coordinator of the ADF appealed to these political leaders and traditional rulers, first, to request the Head of State to organize a national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis, preferably at the beginning of the month of May 2017, ahead of the celebrations that were scheduled to take place throughout the country on 20 May; and, secondly, to convene an inter-regional conference of the populations of the Northwest and Southwest Regions, at the end of April 2017, to prepare for the national dialogue to be held in May.
The ADF Coordinator used the opportunity of the June 2017 parliamentary session to renew his appeal to the political leaders through one-on-one consultations held with individual Senators and National Assembly Members of Anglophone extraction from the 3rd to the 7th of July in Yaounde. This culminated in the announcement by the Social Democratic Front (SDF) political party, at a press conference held by its parliamentary group at the National Assembly in Yaounde on 7 July 2017, of its endorsement of the national dialogue project initiated by civil society and its decision to participate fully in the implementation of this project. The ADF commends the SDF for this patriotic decision that reinforces the unity of our nation and strengthens our living together. It remains confident that other political parties in government as well as the opposition will also endorse the project and participate actively in its implementation, in concert with all the other political and non-political stakeholders, for the good of our country and of all its people.
Done in Buea,this 17th day of July,2017
Dr Simon Munzu, Coordinator, Anglophone Dialogue Forum (ADF)
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