Southern Cameroons War: A Biya-Buhari miscalculation 0

In a perfect political scenario, the next head of state of the so-called One and Indivisible Cameroon should have come from the Anglophone regions of the country. 20th May 2018 marks the 46th anniversary of the Cameroonian nation and President Biya was convinced Cameroon would boast the largest economy in the CEMAC region and the Eldorado of peace deep within the African continent. The Francophone dictator was also confident that the two year running conflict with the people of Southern Cameroons which has claimed 2000 lives since 2016, would finally be over.  Now, the ground has shifted, in part due to Biya and President Buhari’s miscalculation that by abducting and extraditing the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius to Yaoundé, the Southern Cameroons resistance would quickly collapse, especially if Nigeria lent its full support to French Cameroun.

But, as we now know, the Federal Republic of Ambazonia and its leadership are still alive and active and Sisiku Ayuk Tabe by extrapolation is still in power and after two years of fighting, Nigeria is now home to more than 40,000 Southern Cameroonian refugees and facing growing crises in the Cross River and Benue States. In Yaoundé, the army is at war with itself combating internal disintegration. In addition, the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia presently controls a large portion of the rural communities in Southern Cameroons – a concern for both the French government backing Biya and the international community. With age telling on Biya and succession palaver rocking the ruling CPDM crime syndicate, nobody in La Republique du Cameroun knows what Mr. Biya is most concerned with right now. The crisis in the Central African Republic has spilled over into the East region of Cameroon and the situation is becoming more intractable.

The current breakdown in Francophone and Anglophone relations in Cameroon is due to the Biya regime seeming indifference to the crime against humanity situation playing out in Southern Cameroons. Biya is running out of cash and can no longer handle the hydra-headed crisis in the Far North, East and in Southern Cameroons with arms and ammunition. The strategy now has been to blame it all on the US ambassador to Cameroon, His Excellency Peter Barlerin. Southern Cameroons has already fallen out of Yaounde’s control. What the two Cameroons need now is peace talks.

It will be an unfortunate situation if peace talks do not begin soonest. Recently, the mayor of Mamfe, John Ayuk Takunchong made an appeal for inclusive dialogue that depicted the deteriorating security situation in the Manyu County.  The Biya’s senseless war in Southern Cameroons has cost more than 14 million dollars – money that could have been better spent on developing the economy and infrastructure. The bitter truth is the Ambazonian people were subjected to a systematic and often brutal assimilation policy after reunification. The outcome is the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

Nonetheless, from the perspective of the US chief diplomat in Yaoundé, the time to achieve a lasting peace has arrived as a result of the 2018 presidential elections without Biya as a candidate. The reasons for both Cameroons to dialogue are in a multiple. Firstly, Biya and his ruling CPDM party no longer have a strong majority government and military support even among French speaking Cameroonians. Secondly, the Cameroonian economy is not performing well. The young populations in both Cameroons are migrating out of both French and Southern Cameroons in hundreds if not thousands. Furthermore, majority of the junior Francophone army officers now appear unwilling to support the Biya government and many are simply fed up with the never-ending deployment and unrest – especially when just across Cameroon borders they can see the important economic progress of countries like Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and even Congo-Brazzaville.

It’s ironic that Biya’s attempt to crush the Anglophones and destroy the Ambazonian Interim Government has unintentionally led to increasing unrest inside his own country – French Cameroun which could lead to more Cameroon government soldiers dying. Moreover, is it really in French Cameroun’s best interests to be killing innocent Southern Cameroonian citizens including women and children and prolonging the war? Certainly, there’s no easy way forward for the Yaoundé government no matter what choices are made including ousting Biya from power.  However, we of the Cameroon Concord News Group can’t help thinking that the most realistic strategy for French Cameroun is to send Biya parking and adapt to the advent of Southern Cameroons autonomy and by doing so make it French Cameroun-friendly. Do it before “wata na wata” takes all of us away. A stitch in time saves nine

By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai