By Tah Javis
When the Anglophone crisis started, majority if not all Anglophones were fully behind the movement especially when it was still at the level of Civil disobedience and peaceful protest.
Initial demands of 80% Anglophones was that a two state federation be given for Anglophones to have a certain level of autonomy and its legal system, educational, Political and above economic system.
Political in the sense that Anglophones should elect their leaders like Governors and Mayors should have their full powers, Government Delegate position should not exist so that Mayors can develop their community, House of chiefs should be put in place and DO, and SDOs should not operate and police officers should be accountable to the people and respect the law of innocent until proven guilty etc.
Yes our problem is genuine and our concerns are real and must be looked into for we are of two equal states and we voted for the union with La Republic Du Cameroun who got her independence 1st January 1960 hence, it is our constitutional right to advocate for better living condition looking at our specificity and equality as stated by our founding fathers in the Fumban conference.
The truth is, the Government used force to suppressed the peaceful protest and it migrated into an armed conflict.
At the early phase of the crisis many Anglophones supported and were calling the fighters “Our Boys” reason why civil-military cooperation between Anglophone and the military was difficult despite the fact that the military/Non Sate arm groups were causing Havoc on the local population.
Yes the Government has never shown good faith when the crisis started, which is but normal for this kind of regime and they all began with denial But today things are different and it is only but normal too that we must fight for our autonomy which they too must understand.
We must also understand that there are 4 key reasons why a government will not want to negotiate and we must put ourselves in their shoes, if we were in their shoes we will not want to negotiate especially knowing that their culture does not support freedom of speech as can be traced in the 1881 French Law which became applicable in La Republic Du Cameroon in 1921 under which the First News Paper Mballe was banded.
They too must put themselves in our shoes to see why we have to advocate for autonomy since we operated under the Nigeria Newspaper ordinance law of 1917 and we live under that law even during federation until after federation was abolished.
Why will such a government not want to negotiate ?
1) The Government will not like to be seen as being weak
2) The Government thinks if she negotiates, it will give people the green light to pick up arms and fight the more because they think that the government will always negotiate with them
3) Government will not want to lose partners who they have assured that they will keep doing business with them in the current landscap should negotiation take place the government will have to let go some partners in which they are not ready to
4) Individuals who have been victims of non state arm groups will hold the government responsible for not providing justice to the love ones if they negotiate. And those minister generals making money will not want the government to negotiate because of their interest.
But there is one main reason why the government Must Negotiate
1) Respect of life. The government must negotiate because each life lost is a big lose to the nation.
The Big Question now is how do we get them into our shoes genuinely and put ourselves into their own shoes to strike a balance?
The Answer is difficult but simple, which is to establishing a line of communications and make it officially known to the Public.
The truth is, the government cannot win the war; and the non-state armed groups can’t win the war. Only the common man keeps paying the price and the government will use all measures to suppress the resistance.
An Activist abroad will fight till the end because they are in a safe zone and enjoy the freedom of their host countries.
The big Question now is will the non-state arm fighters on the ground fight till the end if government decides to fight on?
70% of them will not sustain by mid-2020. This does not credits the government as winner but makes the situation more complex and I will explain later.
Fact we must consider which are the realities on the ground.
- Separatist Groups are divided and fighting against each other on the field killing other groups that could help them to fight for their common enemy
- Activists are divided and keep doing negative campaigns on the ground and this is making the masses who used to support the revolution to change their minds and this has truly change Anglophone public opinions
- Diaspora leaders whom the People trusted during the early stage of the crisis are fighting openly against each other thus the common Anglophone is frustrated and indicating that should they achieve independence, the nation will be in more problems than it is now
- Decline in Funding: it takes huge sums of money to sustain a war like this and fighters must have enough resources to fight a conventional army but you will agree with me that funds are not coming as it used to be before and fighters have resulted in Kidnappings to generate funds there by reducing their collaboration with the common man who could have supported them.
- Embezzlement and financial scandals among leaders: This has greatly discourage fighters and supporters who used to think that the leaders are there to serve their interest but after the scandal broke out and was true on MTTB lots of sympathizers and fighters gave up and started looking for ways to enrich themselves
- The No school effect: The truth is that we are in war yes but 40-50% of the Anglophone population are for effective resumption of schools even in the war, to them the crisis should continue and their children should be allowed to go to school the day that there is gun battle they will stay home. The day that there is Ghost Town they will stay home, the day that there is calm they will go to school. But as fighters kidnap students, parents, the most active supporters who are for effective resumption are now passive in the revolution.
- Longevity of the war: Many of those who took up arms took it for different reasons, some because their brothers were killed, others because they don’t have jobs, some because their homes were destroy, other because they truly want a separate country, others wanted revenge and other because their brothers or family members have been arrested. Now most of them thought that the war was going to be for a short time, that within two years they will easily control territories but that is not the case. And some are frustrated and want to give up and others have given up. Some have been convinced that the major national Dialogue will produce what they want, others have dropped their guns because they are tired.
- Cameroon Government strong financial backing now and change of tactics: The reason why the crisis has been this long and the Non-State armed groups have operated for this long it is because the government took an aggressive approach which became counterproductive and has instead radicalized many moderate Anglophones to look for the arms. Now that the government has decided to take the moderately offensive tactics by pumping out huge sums of money plus immunity to fighters if they drop their arms it is greatly affecting the momentum and this strategy is working as many more are dropping their arms and those who have dropped their arms are convincing more to do so.
- The government golden bridge: Many of the fighters especially those who joined the conflict thinking will have better life are being promised a visa to abroad it is a pull factor for many and in the days ahead many more will drop their weapons and we will just have only pocket of resistance.
- Role of Elites and prominent Elites: The truth is Elite still have about 30% powers to make fighters in their community to chicken out as the case is in Nkambe, Tiko, Limbe, etc and even if they don’t talk fighters out their presence will help to make many more not to join.
- Willingness of some fighters to drop their weapons: Some fighters are very much willing not to fight due to the inadequate medical and logistical equipment’s for their personal wellbeing and seeing that those who dropped their arms are not arrested or killed they too are dropping theirs and providing supports to Cameroon government.
Looking at the above reasons as a Negotiator who too have been affected by this crisis (Two of my brothers killed by soldiers, my family home burnt down, my brother’s wife killed) I will say that there is a need to establish communication line or channels for effective negotiation between activists, ring leaders of this conflict and the Government of Cameroon.
If this is not established anytime soon, the truth is that the government will break the circle of diaspora controls and work with ground fighters to bring peace. Hence the diasporas and Amba ring leaders will miss their chances of amnesty and hope to return home any time soon.
The truth is, reaching out to establish a good communication back door channel with the government will show that the activists and ring leaders are professionals and have good faith to see into it that the interest of Anglophones are protected.
Yes there can always disagree with themselves , they will argue, fight, insult, and may even attempt to abandon the talks, I just want both parties to know that it is normal during negation. They should keep looking at the price of peace, the price to see that the interest of Anglophones are protected, the interest to see that your key demands if not all are taken into consideration.
The Disapora activists and ring leaders must understand that their efforts have paid off and it has greatly help in reforming Cameroon. And Cameroon will never be the same again thanks to the fact that you people decided to stand up at a time that it matters most, at a time when our fathers could not stand, yet they stood up and faced the battle whose sounds were too difficult to be understood.
Facts we cannot denial and those who want peace must understand.
1) If today the government is talking of granting autonomy to Anglophones looking at the “Special Status” it is because of the heavy resistance put in place by the banned Anglophone civil society consortium and now the various factions still existing
2) If today there is the creation of bilingualism and multiculturalism is because you people fought
3) If today we are talking about Anglophones becoming directors and top ministers it is because you people fought harder
4) If today we are talking about restructuring the educational and judicial landscape it is because you guys fought
5) If today the head of state comes out to acknowledge that they wanted to assimilate the Anglophones but could not succeed it is because you guys fought harder and prevented it from happening
6) If today we hear of recommendations at MND that the two stars or the name should be change to the united Republic of Cameroon it is because you guys fought and pushed back the domination and assimilation.
The courage your guys exhibited the strength you guys showed and the tenacity you guys brought
7) If today the name southern Cameroons or Ambazonia is no longer a Taboo name it is because you guys held the lion where it matters most and the lion could not claim total victor of the match.
You people are the Heroes of the Anglophones and we must as a people accept that your fight is worth it and actually changed things.
8) Everywhere we hear how our French brothers accepting openly that Anglophones were a state that joined them on equal terms and should be given their place in this union it is because you guys fought harder
9) The limbe deep sea port, other sectors are now priority areas which had long been neglected and would not have been a priority even in the next 50 years if you guys had not fought. Thanks again for the fight it was worth it
10) The removal of Government delegates and some position is an achievement of your fight and appointments of Anglophone DO and SDO which we have today in our regions is due to your fight.
11) Again I must say that we have advocated harder and we have paid the price though the advocacy is still continuing .
These are the immediate problems that needs to be solve
1) Ghost Town Wahala
2) Lawyers should be given access to see their clients arrested in connection of the crisis this will build trust
3) Effective Resumption of Schools
4) Burning of villages and schools by those you know
5) Military men found committing crime should be judged in an open court for the people to see and build their confidence
6) Cease Fire
7) Stop Kidnappings
8) Harassment of drivers by men in uniform especially Muea road that usually have four Control posts from Mile 17 to Muea and they collect their usual dues sad Reality to Change the Phase of Anglophones Crisis from Confrontation to cooperation!
Yes we must look at the interest of the people first before looking at the position of the state in that interest. Laws are made for the living to respect and to meet their aspirations and not made for the dead. In resolving a conflict we must as a people understand that we cannot continue to count our lose when we want peace because it will instead push for more revenge than looking at a way to resolve it.
One of the fastest and best way to guarantee no progress in resolving a conflict like this one is denial.
Denial does the following
1) It makes you focus more on your position than interest of the people
2) It makes you not to listen to people who have solution to give you
3) It makes you not to see the opportunity for peace and development
Our leaders or opinion leaders must understand that the people want to see an end to the following
1) Appointments of DO, SDO, and Governors
2) Our people wants to elect their regional government and wants that they should be accountable to them
3) Our people want to see an end to security brutality, intimidation, exploitation, burning of villagers and killings of unarmed civilians
4) Our people want that those arrested should have access to their lawyers and uniform officers found guilty should be charged in an open court.
5) Our people want ghost town to stop and amba boys should stop kidnapping and killing unarmed civilians
6) Our people want to see that the word Anglophone Region is used not South West and North West Region better still West Cameroon
7) Our people want to see that English and French is used effectively
8) our people want to see that laws are respected beginning with freedom of speech, demonstration
9) Our people want to see that our legal and educational systems are autonomous
10) Our people want rotation of the presidency
11) Our people want that the flag be changed with two stars and name readjusted to the United Republic of Cameroon to indicate that two States came together
12) Our people want to see that amnesty is granted for all arrested in connection with the anglophone crisis including soldiers who are in jail because of this crisis.
And to fully achieve this a confederation is needed
Tah Javis Journalist/Negotiator email@example.com