17, December 2017
On Saturday the 16th of December 2017 in Yaoundé, Cameroon army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck did what all Francophone political elites do when faced with the crisis in Southern Cameroons: he said the army is winning the war against Ambazonian armed militants. He however offered no details of military casualties and timeline for withdrawal of all troops from Manyu Division.
“Conditions in the South West and North West, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on,” he told state radio and television, CRTV.
There are currently more than 3000 troops fighting in Mamfe Central, Akwaya and Eyumojock. We don’t know how many Biya secretly withdrew this week. We don’t know how long they’ll be there. And we don’t know what victory even means to the regime in Yaoundé and its UN acolyte Francoise Lounceny Fall.
To get a sense of where we are in Manyu Division, our senior political man, Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai reached out to a retired Manyu citizen who served with the Cameroon armed forces during the Bakassi conflict and the Boko Haram war in the Far North region.
He asked him straightforwardly if there’s a path to victory in the Southern Cameroons war and, if not, why Cameroon government forces are still fighting and dying in Manyu. Soter Agbaw-Ebai also asked him how he thinks this conflict will end. The retired soldier whose name we do not want to mention was unsure about the latter question but his answer to the first one was crystal clear. “Military victory is not plausible in any foreseeable time frame and what President Biya is doing now isn’t sustainable. The situation will become even more intractable when the Ambazonia Interim Government comes into the armed section of this crisis.”
He pointed out that President Biya is hiding behind innocent French Cameroun political elites and he is not taking ownership of the war. “There are three basic options in terms of the military campaign in Manyu and other Anglophone regions. One is to demilitarize West Cameroon. This is what Fru Ndi, Munzu and Agbor Balla requested. Second, there’s the stay-the-course option, which could include sending thousands more troops to the border areas. Third, there’s the troop withdrawal option which I hinted you started two days ago.
“Whether President Biya is considering a complete withdrawal, I can’t say. I wouldn’t assume that’s off the table because of French government support. We’re now three weeks into this war in Manyu. I still cannot understand what’s the mission?
A Cameroon government counterterrorism mission that is conducted in partnership with the Manyu traditional rulers and with the support of the Ekpe sacred society would have been efficient. But we have a commander-in-chief who does not listen and thinks he is a small god.
By Chi Prudence Asong in London