Stopping Bloodshed In Cameroon Anglophone Crisis: What Govt, Separatists Must Do
The events of the past few weeks make it clear that neither the government nor separatists plan to change their violent approach to the crisis.
In fact, fighting has only intensified and both sides appear as fixed in their positions as ever.
Over the past months, there is the impression that government approach to the Anglophone crisis may be changing but the wars have not.
She began with a Grand National Dialogue on September 30 and a few days later, Biya gave a presidential pardon to over 333 people who had been arrested on misdemeanor charges related to the Anglophone protests.
Again she released several opposition figures including presidential candidate Maurice Kamto who had spent over eight months in prison.
On the surface, these policies suggest a shift in strategy. However, at the same time, the level of violence between the Cameroonian military and secessionist fighters has intensified in recent weeks.
A reckless reaction to a peaceful strike started by lawyers and teachers demanding reforms in 2016, the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has developed into a blood bath with daily gun battles.
Secessionists insist they will only meet with the government if talks are brokered by a third party such as Switzerland.
The government on her part has rejected all offers of legitimate mediation in the crisis.
Guns have failed !
Political analysts say the Grand National Dialogue was doomed from the start as separatists who have been calling for externally-mediated talks, refused to engage with it from the outset.
Even with the release of detainees charged with misdemeanors , the number only accounted for a small proportion of those imprisoned. Many more Anglophone activists, journalists and opinion leaders have been charged with terrorism, secession and violence against the state and are still detained.
Some arrested in crimes against the state and others innocently bundled when military break open their homes during raids.
On the release of Kamto and other opposition leaders, analysts further say it has little to do with resolving the Anglophone crisis. Kamto was arrested following a presidential election that controversially reelected Paul Biya, same election that secessionists boycotted.
Therefore in examining the government’s recent actions, she has done much but nothing in real terms to save the number of lives lost daily.
As the crisis intensifies, there is a need for an urgent solution.
To begin, solving the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon needs an externally-guaranteed negotiation, which seems the only way out of the crisis.
This is the surest way to stop the bloodshed and end the spiral.
There is the need for the Biya-led government to engage on genuine dialogue with separatist fighters without the options of federation and secession regarded as a taboo topic.
To precede these dialogue talks, both separatists and the government must call a seize fire.
The Cameroon government must demilitarize the Anglophone regions while ordering for the release of separatist leaders, journalists and all those incarcerated in prisons in relation to the Anglophone crisis.