DISCUSSION AT CHATHAM HOUSE ON THE CAMEROON ANGLOPHONE CRISIS: EXAMINING ESCALATION AND SEEKING SOLUTIONS.
WHY THE BIYA REGIME IS INTRANSIGENT:
In Cameroon, we have a strongman, not strong institutions, and the tendency of strongmen is always to respond with brute force. We also have a system where we have very extremist members of government who enjoy the status quo and make money from the crisis. People have interest in ensuring that we are where we are.
ON THE SPREAD OF THE RESTORATIONIST IDEOLOGY:
During the period when we were taken to jail and because of the systematic and gross violations of our people, the population got more radicalised. People felt that independence was the panacea to the problem and that there was no need to be talking about ‘a united’ Cameroon and that we should go back to ‘Ambazonia’ Southern Cameroons.
MY STANCE OF FEDERALISM:
I am for a two-state federation and I have made that clear, notwithstanding those who disagree with me, they don’t have to be disagreeable about it. I believe that federalism is a middle point between those who stand for a decentralized unitary state and those who are clamouring for independence.
ALL ANGLOPHONE LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE FORUM:
We need an All Anglophone Leadership Dialogue Forum. We have a myriad of leaders who have divergent views. There are some who believe in the force of argument and there are some who believe in the argument of force. Some are for separation while there are those who clamour for a two-state federation, there are those who clamour for a unitary state.
The leaders have to meet and agree on a common course because if they don’t meet and talk, when there’s a call for real dialogue, their voices will not be heard. What unites us is stronger than what divides us so I think that with time we shall meet and agree on the short term, medium term and long term goals.
ON “BETRAYING” THE STRUGGLE:
I can never betray our people because it is a cause that I believe in. I know things are very charged emotionally at this time, it’s easy for us to try and destroy our own but those who look beyond the present situation know who’s fighting for them. History will record the real story. I don’t get distracted by the smear campaign, I keep walking, doing what I think is right, doing what the people would like.
My dad died in my house, and I wasn’t given the opportunity to bury him because I was in jail. So even from an African perspective, even my ancestors will strike me dead if I betray the struggle.
WE NEED CONTINUED PRESSURE FROM THE INDEPENDENCE CAMP:
Yes, I want pressure to still come from those calling for independence because we need that pressure to be able to bring the government to the table. But yes, I also understand that those clamouring for independence should allow the space for those who don’t think like them to talk.
By Barrister Nkongho Felix
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