The United Nations on 8th August, 2017 issued a statement which says Cameroun should revisit the root causes of the crisis destroying Anglophone Cameroon. It is interesting to note that Mr. Penn Terence, Vice Principal of CCAST Bambili who was abducted by Biya’s forces and currently languishing in Kondengui jail Yaounde had on January 3rd explained what the root causes of the Anglophone Problem is. Should the government be listening, its own people had explained the root causes, instead for the government to engage with such persons, they turn to abduct and arrest them. We hope that now that the UN has spoken, the government will listen. What then did Penn Terence explained as the root causes?
TACKLING THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE ANGLOHONE (SOUTHERN CAMEROONS) PROBLEM
By PENN TERENCE KHAN
3 JANUARY 2017
The only thing that caught my attention during Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroun’s traditional end of year speech was his calling Camerounians to ‘un dialogue franc’ ( frank dialogue) . The only healing we need to come out of this impasse that has plagued Cameroun since 21 October 2016 when the Common Law Lawyers took to the streets of Bamenda and later Buea denouncing the encroachment of the civil law into common law courts is frank and sincere dialogue. What started with the lawyers and was passed on to the teachers of the English sub system of Education and lastly the Anglophone Civil Society is likely not going to stop until the root causes of the grievances tabled are looked into. All three sectors involved in this industrial strike action have one thing in common : The Return to the 1961 Federalism. This just goes to prove to the power that be that the people of former Southern Cameroons are tired of this union. It will not be wrong to say that from 1961 to today, the Republic of Cameroun has been sitting on an active volcano mistaking it for being dormant. If a frank, sincere and inclusive dialogue is not engaged by all the actors to heal the land thereby correcting the cracks made on the foundation of this union, this simple strike action might and will blow out of proportion. The Anglophone problem is as old as this country. It dates as far back as 1961 when the union between Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun was forged. It will therefore be unwise to try seeking cosmetic solutions to this without trying to look at the ‘Root Causes’ of the problem. Any cosmetic arrived at now will not stand the taste of time as this problem is bound to rise again sooner than expected.
What are the Root Causes of the Anglophone Crisis?
1- THE NON IMPLEMENTATION OF UN RESOLUTION 1608(5)
The very first Root Cause of the Anglophone Problem lies in the non implementation of the 21 April 1961 UN Resolution 1608(5) which invites the Administering Authority, the Government of Southern Cameroons and the Republic of CameroUn to initiate urgent discussions with a view to finalizing before 1 October 1961,the arrangements by which the agreed and declared policies of the parties concerned will be implemented .By virtue of the above, the future of the Trust Territory was to be decided between Britain ( Administering Authority),the Government of J. N Foncha (Southern Cameroons) and President Ahidjo (of the already Independent Republic of Cameroun). A treaty thus had to be worked out and deposited at the U.N Secretariat in application to Article 102(1) and the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which states
Every treaty and every international Agreement entered into by any member of the United Nations after the present Charter comes into force shall as soon as possible be registered with the Secretariat and published by it.Clearly, this was never the case as Britain never showed up at Foumban. The inexperienced Southern Cameroons was left alone to deal with the already independent Republic of Cameroun which had by her side legal experts from France. The fact that Britain failed to turn up at the Tripartite conference in Foumban ties with the views of a certain school of thought which holds that the UN simply set a trap for Britain and she fell inside. According to this school of thought, Britain was supposed to prepare her Trust Territory of British Cameroons for self determination. The idea of a Plebiscite was as solely that of Britain which was contrary to the UN principle of Self Determination. The UN knew that based on the Vienna 1969 United Nations Convention on the Laws of Treaties, a treaty could never be worked out between Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun due to the fact that the former was not a full state. With no union treaty signed between Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun and deposited at the UN Secretariat, the union became illegal from birth.
2- LAPSES IN DRAFTING THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
When in 1961 President Ahmadou Ahidjo and Prime Minister John Foncha led the delegations from their respective ‘countries’ to negotiate the articles of the Constitution of the emergent Federal Republic of Cameroon, Southern Cameroons committed a grave error by embarking on this mission on her own. The British advisers were of little assistance, and so was the United Nations.
A constitution is the supreme law of the land and not just an executive agreement. Laws are made by lawmakers—members of Parliament and of the National Assembly and not by presidents, prime ministers, leaders of political parties, etc. Only the Republic of Cameroun had a national assembly which had drafted her constitution in 1959 ( drafted by three individuals under the guise of the Legislative Assembly). The Southern Cameroons delegation thus had no constitutional power to draft a constitution binding on the inhabitants of the Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons. For the French Cameroun delegation, they saw nothing wrong with it since ALCAM (Assemblèe Legislative Camerounaise) had gone into recess when Ahidjo used his ‘plein pouvoirs’ to literally abolish it by calling the Legislative Assembly “une assemblèe de bavards” ( A gathering of talkative people). Even the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroun that was tailor cut to accommodate the Federal Constitution was drafted in one night by Jacques Rousseau and Paul Audat and was later proofread by Professor Maurice Duverger who for a fee agreed to be part of the legal farce. The constitution of Southern Cameroons at that time was ‘The Southern Cameroons Order in Council ‘ which was a law passed in the British Parliament in October 1960. That law made Foncha Premier ( not Prime Minister). Even if the Foncha delegation was properly constituted to draft a constitution, they left Southern Cameroons for Foumban with the view of creating a Strong Confederation in which Buea and Yaounde were equal but did not achieve that. ( one of the reasons Foncha tabled in his resignation letter in 1996 as to why the union has failed)
This procedure of drafting this constitution( the supreme law of the land) was not followed and might well be a major contributing factor to current misunderstandings. The ratification process is very crucial. It is when nationwide debates of the constitution take place, when citizens are sensitized and educated about the provisions of the constitution, when they become acquainted with their rights and protections under the constitution.
3- VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 47(1) OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
Irrespective of the failures of the July 17-21,1961 Foumban constitutional conference, the Federal Constitution was adopted to become the supreme law in the land. What finally happened on May 20th, 1972 was nursed as far back as 1961, just three days into the Federation which was illegal in both form and structure. President Amadou Ahidjo was already so used to the concept of ‘Full Powers'(plein pouvoirs) which was characterized by the concentration of powers in the hands of the executive of which he was the head. Law No 59/33 of 27 May 1959 had given him that power to rule by decrees and ordinances. It was it this concept of ‘plein pouvoirs’ that Amadou Ahidjo started scheming on how to destroy the just newly formed ‘unconstitutional’ Federal Structure. Just three days after the British left Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroun lowered the Union Jack and Gendarmes from the Republic of Cameroun entered the territory, Ahidjo issued Ordinance 61/OF/5 of 4 October 1961 on the State of Emergency, which was to regulate emergency within the new Federal Structure. Ahidjo used his ‘plein pouvoirs’ to maintain his iron grip on the new nation. By 1966, Multi Party politics was abolished every other party was coaxed or threatened to join Ahidjo’s newly formed Cameroun National Union. It was not surprising when in 1970, when Ahidjo made a speech “My countrymen, I have decided to end the Federal form of the state”(mes cher compatriotes, j’ai décidé de mettre fin a la form Fédéral de l’État )
On May 20th, 1972, Ahidjo’s Referendum was held on the abolition of the Federal form of Government. This Referendum was in complete violation of first paragraph of the Federal Constitution in it’s Article 47(see above). The Referendum appeared to be a farce aimed at despotically ending the Federation. It is not the first time citizens of former Southern Cameroons took to the streets demanding the return to Federalism or the Restoration of the Statehood of Southern Cameroons. It happened in the early 90s that led to the ALL ANGLOPHONE CONFERENCE (A.A.C) 1 and 2 in Buea and Bamenda respectively. If a dialogue is not called to heal the foundations of this union, no amount of cosmetic measures will heal the union. It will erupt again and the fear is that it might not be easy to handle the next time it sparks again.
A stitch in time saves nine