Home / English / Biya’s ‘dialogue’ for Cameroon crisis runs into questions, rejection

Biya’s ‘dialogue’ for Cameroon crisis runs into questions, rejection

Yaoundé (AFP) Yahoo News | President Paul Biya’s call for dialogue on the separatist crisis in Cameroon’s two anglophone regions was given a cautious welcome on Wednesday by some, although several separatist leaders swiftly and bluntly rejected it.

The 86-year-old president, apparently softening his stance, said he would convene a “major national dialogue” later this month.

It will “examine the ways and means to respond to the deeply-held aspirations of the populations in the Northwest and Southwest regions but also in all the other component parts of our great nation,” Biya said in a TV address late Tuesday.

His announcement came ahead of the second anniversary of the declaration of the “Republic of Ambazonia” — the self-proclaimed breakaway state for the two English-speaking regions where separatists have launched an armed campaign for independence from the majority French-speaking state.

More than 2,000 people have died, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) thinktank, while the UN says at least half a million have fled their homes. The cost to Cameroon’s economy, meanwhile, is mounting.

In a statement, the UN said Secretary General Antonio Guterres “welcomes the announcement” and “reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support the dialogue process.”

“All Cameroonian stakeholders” should participate, it said.

Separatist leaders jailed

But many commentators said that if Biya’s overture is genuine, it will have little chance of headway so long as breakaway leaders remain behind bars or in exile.

In May, Biya’s prime minister had already said the government was willing to host a dialogue with the separatists.

Yet three months later, separatist leader Julius Ayuk Tabe was sentenced to life in prison along with nine of his supporters — a move that made the prospect of peace seem even more remote.

A leading Cameroonian anglophone lawyer and human rights campaigner, Felix Agbor Nkongho, gave Biya high marks for the openness of the proposed forum.

It would include members of political groups, civil society and religious groups, as well as representatives of the armed forces and armed rebel groups, according to the announcement.

“The call for an all inclusive dialogue is very appreciated,” the lawyer said in an interview with AFP.

But, he said, “the government should now allow anglophones of various political thought to mobilise, organise themselves and take part without fear of arrest or other punishment for their ideas.”

In the Southwest Region’s capital Buea, prominent local campaigner Blaise Chamango said the hosting of a dialogue was “something that people have been asking for for a long time.”

But he also pointed to a radicalisation of the pro-independence movement over the last three years, after Biya rejected more moderate demands for autonomy or a federal state.

“The separatists have become more radical, and everything that Yaounde (the government) puts forward is seen as a poisoned chalice.”

Peace would be impossible if the separatists are not given a seat at the table, he suggested.

Separatist scepticism 

Biya’s offer was notably given an immediate thumbs-down by several separatist groups, gathered in an association called the South Cameroon Liberation Movement.

“We will not allow him to use a circus like this to lure the international community,” it said, calling on Biya to withdraw all troops and government officials from the two anglophone regions.

“We will not be party to any national dialogue. The period for dialogue died a long time ago,” Ebenezer Akwanga, a separatist leader, told AFP from the United States.

“We want a comprehensive negotiated settlement on the terms of separation. We will settle for nothing less!”

English speakers — who make up roughly one fifth of Cameroon’s 24 million inhabitants — mostly live in the two regions that were formerly a British colony until they were folded into post-independence Cameroon in 1961.

Anger at perceived discrimination by francophones against anglophones in justice, education and the economy has built for years.

Cameroonian newspapers that are sympathetic to the opposition also questioned the point of the exercise — “a dialogue with ghosts,” said one headline.

Biya, in his speech, made no reference to releasing jailed leaders, although he reiterated an offer to a “pardon” any separatists who voluntarily lay down their arms.

Those who refuse to do so will face “the full force of the law” and of the country’s security and defence forces, he warned.

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13 comments

  1. A caged parrot has only one song and we have heard it too many times. Force has never solved any problem. 18 years and $2 trillion and America has not tamed Afghanistan. Doh! You cannot dialogue with a gun in one hand and an olive branch in the other. Nothing has changed and nothing will change with this attitude. The economic toll is rising and soon, you will not be able to pay your bills or borrow money. Save your bag of tricks and double talk for fools. For those idiots here that like to insult others, I am not pro Biya or pro Amba. My concern is for the loving Cameroonians that are suffering for no reason of theirs. Thank you

  2. If those in the diaspora are arrested at the airport in d`la / y`de, who will release
    them? Sissiku and co, where in a hotel in Nigeria talking help to refugees. They
    were arrest by Nigeria / Cameroon security forces. Who released them up to today?
    In bad faith, Biya makes this `rust dialigue`to score international points. It is not
    an honest bid, only good for old Tumi and young Balla who wishes to be seen at all
    cost. What makes Biya, think the Anglophone Crisis, can now become a national issue?
    In other crisis of sought, it is held with the control of a third party. Who is the third
    party in this regard – CPDM. The leaders of today`s Anglophone, are young, educated
    and informed people. The good thing in it all, is that they have traveled, which is a
    very big asset. Not fools anymore.

  3. Tumi, Balla and CPDM militants, are of federalism. The churches, are for one and
    indivible Biya cameroon. It is all business for them all as usual. They want to gain
    positions, the churches want to continus in business and Biya, wants to get away
    with his deeds. It is a well thoughtout plan. Some other country, is good ground for
    the dialogue. Switzerland set the good pace like other cases. Fumban, failed and so
    any meaningful dialogue, can not come out of cameroon.
    National dialogue, is good ONLY after the Anglophone crisis has been concluded. This,
    makes good sense.

  4. all we ask is for you BIYA the french sous prefet in cameroon to resign…we will not Dialogue with you…you have blood in your hand!

  5. Inarguably, the only person with greater leverage, capable of putting this crisis to a halt is Sissiku and not Biya. Any national dialogue without Sissiku on the dialogue table is compromised right from the very start. Biya should stop these cosmetic schemes. His dialogue proposal does not seem genuine nor concrete. Besides, why should the Prime Minister head the dialogue and not Biya himself? Let’s not forget that former PM Philemon Yang had previously engaged in dialogue which yielded to nothing, likewise the Tripartite, AAC1 and AAC2.

    Moreover, given the militarized nature of the NOSO regions, will people be able to freely express their viewpoints without the fear of being shot or arrested? If moderates (Balla et al) could be arrested then, what makes it different now?

  6. Of course, Dictator Biya was simply playing to the gallery with his so-called dialogue. That evil BULU Dictator is seeking a military solution to the Anglophone Question. We should, therefore, upgrade the weapons of our boys. Only AK47, RPGs, IEDs and BOMBS can rescue us from colonialism.

    Thank God that the leaders of the “secessionists” have REJECTED the so-called dialogue offer from Biya.
    «Nous appelons tous les Camerounais du Sud – de la patrie ou de la diaspora – à fuir tout dialogue organisé par M. Biya, ses sponsors, ses forces d’occupation et les facilitateurs sur lesquels son régime continue de s’appuyer pour prétendre avoir le consentement de mal gouverner notre peuple», écrivent-ils.

  7. Why even bother to dialogue with terrorits or senseless people? People who only know violence and barbarism?

    Biya, you are too kind and laxist, a real son of the Betiland…
    Another leader would sell the NW region to Nigeria, end of story.
    Old people use to say that Ahidjo had another way to handle these kind of nonsense.

    • Frog the best you have offered are being slaughtered. Who else do have to present octogenarian generals from the pigmy tribe? Hahaha you ewondo chop broke pot fools.

  8. So you bought southern cameroons in 1961?
    Interesting…please go back for your money and tell them you didn’t see us.

  9. The he-goat donkey thinks he’s God in his forsaken land of [email protected] A stinkingly corrupt country trying to lecture Norway on the modalities of human rights. What a laugh! Ayaba Cho will burry you alive.

  10. The Anglophone crisis, was not allowed in parliament / Senate. Gov`t, said it
    was never going to discuss with terrorists. Atangha Nji representing gov`t as
    minister of territorial Admin, said there was no Anglophone crisis etc etc etc.
    Therefore, no rush for any dialogue with cameroon gov`t, civil society / churches
    political parties, because IT NEVER, was a national issue.
    After lawyers / teachers met with gov`t for discussion and even wrote to Biya,
    it ended up in their detensions for months.
    No proper guaranttee for any Ambazonian leader. What happened to coffe, can
    still happen to COCOA. Better, be warned, fame and free money mongers. See,
    where Sissiko et al, are today. Biya is very different than the naked mind can think.

  11. Ali Bongo, Paul Biya , Dennis Sassougesso , Obiangema Basogo , Idris Derby , all of the ECCAS Presidents have overstayed their Welcome!

  12. Biya Le criminel de masses avec des armes chimiques que vous avez utilisé.

    Un veritale système d’une liquidation comme des Nazis

    Vous brulez les villages anglophones. Vous dansez sur nos morts. Vous massacrez des missionaires qui ne vous soutiennent pas. Vous ASSASSINEZ LES ANGLOPHONES qui se battent pour une cause juste. Freedom is our motivation. The PERSON who can easily betray and expose the locations is the ISP. Be carefull with your ISP. if possible. Never use the (LRC) govt ISP. Be very carefull as they can eaily monitor tracks data exchange. Use only private ISP for GZ calls with the fighters and the activists.The factual is nothing less than the Devil system of la Ripoublique of Cameroun where Dog Eaters kill children, rape kids, mass kill the population. We shall prevail.

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