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MoRiscs Leader Boh Herbert Stinks US Ambassador Cohen: Strategic Blunder Or Right?

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A Cure Worse than the Disease
By Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert (Yindo Toh)

Former U.S. Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs Hon. Ambassador Herman J. Cohen is seen, by many, within Ambazonian circles as a sympathetic voice for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons. Some of his more recent tweets on Ambazonia, including notably the last one (posted by @CohenOnAfrica at 2.13pm on 20 August 2019), has some of us scratching our heads. Before I write anything more, let me indicate, for the record and by way of full disclosure, that I was one of more than a dozen Ambazonian leaders who earlier this year toyed with the idea of retaining Ambassador Cohen as a lobbyist. The monthly price for his services – in the neighborhood of $30,000 per month – was way too high for the shallow pockets of this revolution…

And, right there is one of the seeds of the extra pair of inquisitive eyes that I could not help putting on to view his most recent tweet. To be very honest, I am no longer convinced that Ambassador Cohen is not on someone’s payroll… I mean someone with deep, deep pockets… Someone like Colonial Cameroun… why not? Obviously, Ambassador Cohen is free to work for whomever he wants and owes neither me nor any Ambazonian an explanation for doing so. However, because of his interest in Ambazonia, I meaning my survival, I find myself making his business my business as well. A lot jumped out at me from the fewer than 300-Word tweet:

1. Ambassador Cohen decries the jailing of Ambazonian leaders, but refers to them as “secessionists”; not restorationists or pro-independence leaders. Ambassador Cohen is as seasoned a diplomat as they come and his choice of the word “secessionist” is deliberate. Just as deliberate as Ambassador Cohen would have never referred (if he were around in 1776) to America’s founding president, George Washington, as a secessionist. Or, may be he could have… if he was working for Colonial England at the time.

2. In the same tweet, Ambassador Cohen offers a few prescriptions. One of the first is pointing out to the Biya regime that they “should be negotiating a peaceful solution with them” (the so-called secessionists). The words “with them” caught my attention. They are used at a time when many actively seek to torpedo the Swiss-led third-party-mediated negotiated settlement. They come st a time when some voices have said no negotiations will be valid unless they involve the jailed leaders. And while no true Ambazonian would want leaders excluded from negotiations, conditioning their participation to the validity of any negotiations essentially imposes a precondition. The Biya needs such an excuse to point out to the international community that Ambazonia won’t comply.

3. There is more… Ambassador Cohen is too knowledgeable not to know that Ambazonia is not Eritrea. Whereas Eritrea needed self-determination to get to independence, Ambazonia already obtained independence and merely seeks restoration of independence (won before the UN General Assembly in April 1961, but lost to recolonization by Colonial Cameroun). Might Ambassador Cohen be promoting the idea of a new referendum in Ambazonia… one that the colonizer will make sure to rig? Why would he be doing that, unless…?

4. If the country structure between Eritrea and Ethiopia until 1959 was federal in nature, with Eritrea functioning as an autonomous region within Ethiopia until the Emperor converted it into the 13th province of that country, why was Ambassador Cohen not on board with Ethiopia describing Eritreans as secessionists but is with Colonial Cameroun? Why did Ambassador Cohen support independence for Eritrea but is advocating federalism for the previously independent Ambazonia? Might it be the case that Ambazonians are cheering tweets from the seasoned diplomat, delivered in partial fulfillment of an undisclosed contract that furthers interests different from those of Ambazonia?

5. This most recent tweet has a strong stench of “Clorox” as it devotes a few words to laundering the image of the monsters in power in Yaounde. From out of thin air, Ambassador Cohen’s tweet refers to wha he calls a democratic Cameroun. To show how deliberate the choice of words is, Ambassador Cohen explains that he sees Ambazonia fitting right into what he calls “a greater democratic” Cameroon. When did Ambassador Cohen become a convert of Biya-the-Democrat? Or, is this paid speech?

6. Ambassador Cohen knows that any merger between two equally independent countries can only produce a confederation. He, therefore, knows that the 1961 so-called federation (decreed in September 1961 and retroactively imposed on Ambazonia in October 1961) was a fraud, imposed thanks to the criminal silence of the United Nations and countries like the USA which failed to uphold their vote in favor of independence. How did it happen that the one man in American diplomacy who advocated for an independent Eritrea is still fidgeting with and prescribing federalism for Ambazonia?

7. It also has to be deliberate that Ambassador Cohen avoids using words in the tweet that would confer recognition for our Homeland. Rather than use the names “Ambazonia” and/or “Southern Cameroons”, Ambassador Cohen plays safe (by Colonial Cameroun, it has to be) by employing the expression “the English-speaking region”. Again, this is deliberate refusal to acknowledge the fact that there are two Cameroons; two peoples; two independence dates; two territories; etc. Even if the tweet was not meant to be neutral, it just happens to serve Colonial Cameroun.

Let me clarify something before I close. I do not have any proof (shall I say that I have “no proof, of any kind”?) that Ambassador Cohen works for Colonial Cameroun. Chances are he does. Chances are he does not.

Even if he did, it pays to remind lobbyists of all stripes that they will be found out if they twist facts. Ambazonia is not only a patient; she is also her own doctor. That’s why Southern Cameroons prescribed and took our own medecine by walking out of Nigeria in 1953. If Nigeria could not stop Ambazonia, what does Colonial Cameroun think will stop Ambazonia today? Ambassador Cohen’s prescription of federalism in a so-called “democratic” Cameroun is, sadly, a cure worse than the disease. And, Ambassador Cohen knows or should know. better than to offer such a dead-on-arrival proposal.

Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert (Yindo Toh)
Spokesperson, MoRISC

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