The ill-advised international “dialogue” between the Cameroon government representatives and Cameroonians in South Africa and Belgium descended into a perfect fiasco as Southern Cameroonians stormed the Cameroon High Commission in South Africa and the Cameroon Embassy in Brussels respectively demanding immediate independence to the bemusement of the officials who looked on in terror and horror. It is unclear as to who conjured up this kind of “diplomacy” which truly replicated an after match boxing punch up — for such a method is unheard of since recorded history began. The unprecedented drama left at least one person receiving a knock-out punch that left him motionless on the floor. Did it occur to the Cameroon Commonwealth Minister, Dr. Dione Ngute; and Cameroon Justice Minister, Laurent Esso, that those in prison, killed, tortured and raped have relatives and friends abroad? What, exactly, is the rationale behind such a very bad idea?
To refocus, the AU had recommended dialogue– within their auspices– to resolve this constitutional matter in 2009. They offered their good offices. The Cameroon government arrogantly rejected the offer which came through the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and thus, a legal order or obligation of a member state of good standing.
Recently, the United Nations Organisation (U.N.O) made a similar good will gesture, and urging the Cameroon government to re-install the internet in Southern Cameroons after it was illegally turned off by the Cameroon regime, and that they should release all the detained after which they offered to mediate so as to resolve the matter “legally”. The Cameroon regime of President Paul Biya again seems to have rejected this golden opportunity.
The writer believes that this crisis is descending into danger,and that crimes against humanity are being committed by the Cameroon government against the politically persecuted people of Southern Cameroons. These are very serious international matters because as evidence continues to mount, the likelihood of prosecution of perpetrators dramatically increases;and that the crisis may spiral into uncontrollable violence.
There is still a lean window of opportunity to salvage this crisis out of the furnaces of anger and outrage. This can be done by:
1. Freeing all detained Southern Cameroonians.
2. Announcing an amnesty to all who have been chased into exile to return to Cameroon.
3. Dismiss the discredited Southern Cameroonian “negotiators” from all forth-coming discussions and dialogue.
4. Dismiss the discredited French-speaking “negotiators” from all forth-coming discussions and dialogue.
5. Drop all court summons of the Church leaders.
6. Systematically withdraw the brutal military from the Southern Cameroons.
7. Begin prosecution of members of the military and police forces who are known to have violated and brutalised citizens in the Southern Cameroons.
8. Set up a Truth and Reconcilliation Commission of honest men and women from the Cameroon civil society to begin work.
9. Provide a comprehensive acount on those kidnapped Southern Cameroonians whose whereabouts are unknown.
10. Inform the United Nations and the AU on the willingness to dialogue, and who will be part of the government team.
The writer is aware of the cataclysmic consequences of post-independence conflicts in Africa. Such conflicts draw in foreign powers that are eyeing great resources– and with long-standing interests– so as to get or retain a foothold in areas of strategic world importance.
I will not belabour the audience on the strategic geographical importance of Buea, Victoria,Tiko,Mamfe and Bamenda in the Southern Cameroons.Their proximity to both African power,Nigeria, and the Central African markets within the Gulf of Guinea would make a military confict a matter of grave danger.The consequences will be far-reaching in the Gulf and the world because Nigeria will join the fight to secure their sea routes for their oil supplies and transportation which would be severely disrupted.The following is that Nigeria shoud take the initiative to begin to broker a peace plan for that region,and to put pressure on the Biya regime to respect human rights and international law.
In every crisis there are more than one parties –two in this dire scenario. The Southern Cameroons leadership should also take the following steps thereof:
1. Write a visionary strategic plan to financially, politically, economically execute their clear aims and objectives.
2. Stream line the number of “positions”. Not everyone with a title or name is a leader. The more leaders an organisation co-opts,the greater the proponderance of confusion and misunderstanding. This is not the time for power and positions.
3. Start campaigning for a referendum to reflect the wishes of the Southern Cameroons people.
4. Heighten its international profile with well-calculated and well- written, short but precise press releases in crisp and correct grammar; and good visual presentation by presenters. Perception is important.
5. Communicate with leaders in detention since they are the symbols of the resistance.
6. Quickly denounce hate messages from any quarter,especially from their own camp.Furthermore,denounce any form of tribalism.
7. Have communication with the ordinary people of Southern Cameroons especially those families whose members have been killed, abducted, raped or tortured.
8. Together with leaders in detention, come up with a team that most likely represents all shades of opinion in the Southern Cameroons, and which will make up the envisaged negotiating group.
9. Inform the UN and AU of the intention to dialogue,and present the team of men and women of integrity and substance to them.
10. Intensify the civil disobedience, calls for the release of the captured and peaceful resistance until such a time when the other party has reasonably met their own requirements. Do not engage in offensive violence. However, you have the right to self-defence under attack under international law.
Louis Mbua, Ph.D.