Southern Cameroons-French Cameroun Crisis: Another African state descending into chaos 0

It was formerly called the North West and South West regions of the Republic of Cameroon; today’s Federal Republic of Ambazonia (also known as Southern Cameroons) was declared independent from the French Cameroun recently.

Although the government of La Republique du Cameroun started waging a war against the Southern Cameroons after the independence day declaration and the abduction and extradition of its leaders from Nigeria, Africa’s newest nation has been relatively stable under the guidance of the Interim Government (IG) since Sisiku Ayuk Tabe was elected Interim President.  President Paul Biya – one of world’s longest-serving leaders – announced he would hold presidential elections this October in an already fragmented society.

The French Cameroun dictator’s reign has been marred by corruption and violence including untold misery. Ever since he joined the French Cameroun government as a junior minister and had a meteoric rise in the Cameroon political system, the former Roman Catholic seminarian has never lost a top seat.

The frustration and vicious marginalization of English speaking Cameroonians for over 57 years has prompted the creation of numerous militia – known as the Dragons, the Odeshi Warriors, The Tigers and the Amba Boys, respectively – drawing fighters from all Southern Cameroons ethnic and political backgrounds.

Biya’s government was aided by President Buhari of neighbouring Nigeria and consequently, the Interim President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and senior members of the Southern Cameroons government were abducted in Nera Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria and extradited to Yaoundé. Ever since Nigeria took that line, the conflict has escalated.  Violent clashes have been the order of the day between the Francophone dominated army and Ambazonia Restoration Forces.

Naked arrogance and resisting talk on the part of the Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo regime has already claimed the lives of some 1000 Southern Cameroonians including nearly 300 Cameroon government troops. The UN says some 160,000 Southern Cameroonians have been internally displaced and some 50,000 are seeking refuge outside the nation’s borders.

France and Nigeria are supporting the Biya regime that has also attracted a number of Chadian soldiers. Biya has continued to work closely with a number of Western powers, notably Britain and France, and allowing their firms to explore and extract Cameroon oil and gas.

Repression has always been a key factor in his renewed reign and the 86 year old has always taken the top seat with almost 90% of votes and extended his term when a new constitution came into force.  A general ghost town operation is largely observed in Southern Cameroons, but ignored in French Cameroun, where Mr. Biya and his ruling CPDM crime syndicate are in charge.

Cat calls have greeted the announcement that Mr. Biya will be seeking another 7 year mandate at 86 and it is anticipated that sooner or later there will be a significant outbreak of violence in French Cameroun. We understand that dozens of panicked French speaking Cameroonians are already migrating to other African countries such as Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville including the Ivory Coast. In Southern Cameroons nearly all police stations have been set ablaze by Ambazonia forces.

Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary has been blaming the attacks on government buildings and state institutions on Southern Cameroons separatists. Thousands of Cameroon government police and troops, some in armoured vehicles have invaded and destroyed Southern Cameroons towns and villages killing hundreds of civilians including women and children in a warlike operation.

Amnesty International has hinted of crimes against humanity being committed in Southern Cameroons and the renowned human rights organization says it’s collecting information to identify the perpetrators of the violence in Ambazonia. Amnesty International has also recently denounced widespread arrests of Southern Cameroonians and the fact that many have been illegally detained and harassed – including a number of members of the civil society and Anglophone journalists.

The Biya regime has always promised the international community that it will keep a watchful eye on government troops operating in Southern Cameroons and look into any excessive use of force by soldiers deployed across Ambazonia. These promises have been nothing but plain fiction.

By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai