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Cameroon’s Former Separatists Distrust Reintegration Program

YAOUNDE VOA | Cameroon says three months after creating a commission to reintegrate separatist fighters who agree to disarm, only 20 rebels have surrendered. Separatists fear the commission may be a trap by the military to arrest and punish them.

Thirty-nine-year-old Julius, who for security reasons gives only his first name, is a motorcycle taxi driver in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde — but only since November.

That is when he says he escaped from a village in the English-speaking northwest, after the military raided his rebel camp.

Julius says the military killed 13 of his fellow separatist fighters.

He has since given up on violence to fight for an independent, English-speaking state within Francophone Cameroon.

But Julius refuses to hand himself over to Cameroon’s commission to reintegrate rebel fighters because he does not trust authorities.

“What happens on the ground is that if one military man is killed, in vengeance they burn down villages,” he said. “They have gone to the level of committing such atrocities to turn down now and blame it on the fighters on the ground. How do you imagine that those same fighters will trust that they will lay their arms and walk up to them. When they suspect, they shoot and kill.”

Julius returned from Nigeria in 2017, he says, after studying at a university. He had no intention of becoming a separatist until the military, he claims, torched his house.

Cameroon’s military denies abuses against civilians in battling the rebels and accuses the separatists of committing atrocities.

Rights groups say both the military and separatists are guilty of brutalities in the three-year conflict, with noncombatants bearing the brunt of the violence.

But authorities admit thousands of young Cameroonians have become separatists.

In December, Cameroon created the committee to reintegrate Boko Haram terrorists and rebel fighters and who agreed to disarm.

But less than 20 separatists have handed themselves over to Cameroon’s two reintegration centers.

Sixtus Gabsa, manager of the reintegration center in the northwestern town of Bamenda, says rebels who want to disarm have nothing to fear.

“Those who want to think negatively think that it is a trap. There is no trap in it,” he said. “I am giving you a guarantee, the head of state has given us a mandate to give our children the opportunity to come meet us so that they can stay in peace, live in peace so that we can take care of them and reinsert them in the society. We are even going to give them means to see how they can start a new life in a free and safe society.”

Gabsa says the centers offer rebels treatment for injuries, job training, schooling, and resources to resettle them back into mainstream society.

But Counselor Denise Mbarga at the Center for the Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Yaoundé says the government needs to create trust. He says asking the separatists to disarm while carrying out military raids sends the wrong signal.

Mbarga says nothing much can be expected from the commission if the government does not change its strategy. He says authorities need to show political will to end the war by carrying out sincere dialogue with the people and rebels because the military solution is failing.

The separatists, who claim discrimination against the English-speaking minority in majority French-speaking Cameroon, have been fighting for an independent state since 2016.

The government says more than 1,200 people have been killed in the fighting but has dismissed the thought of giving up any sovereignty.

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9 comments

  1. More face-saving, damage-control presidential decrees might do the trick, while playing for time. Already the judge presiding over the thorny case of Julius Ayuk Table and others has been moved to Buea. This followed the spotlight directed at the massive walkout of defense lawyers to expose the type of bizarre justice application being displayed in an important case of such magnitude.

  2. Cannot start war by decree and end it by decree. Paul Biya is power-drunk. He is the problem to peace in the Gulf of Guinea.

  3. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    Dictator Biya has only 2 (two ) options left for peace to return:

    1. defeat the “secessionists” on the battlefield

    OR

    2. convene a GENUINE and INCLUSIVE dialogue WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS

    Option #1 is 100% UNACHIEVABLE
    Option #2 is has a 50% degree of certainty for success.

    The creation of this and that commision by presidential decrees should be considered as a sheer waste of energy, scarce resources and precious time.

    The present NEVER-AGAIN generation is different from the generation of Dr. Foncha. They can NEVER EVER be deceived by the so-called “one and indivisible” LRC.

  4. The ring road in B`da, the election frauds, the refusal that the military is raping and burning
    whole villages etc etc etc, are good testimony and reference facts to not trust any gov`t offers
    on this crisis at face value.
    If gov`t can lie just to host the Afcon games, why would this same gov`t think anyone can
    believe them about not purnishing anyone even after 5 to 10 years? Biya, still has a long way
    to go as president.

  5. Oh banana ripoublique du cameroun. Southern Cameroons is emerging to gain roots forvever.

    Biya Dégage.

  6. Biya is president of a neighbouring country .
    We will not change their president for them, if they want change and development, they should rise up themselves.
    We have risen up as one man and left the joke they call a country.
    In any case in 1984 they left the union so our freedom was sealed then

  7. CMR is one and indivisible. When patriot Ntumazah was fighting for One Kamerun newbies like Biya or Ahidjo were still trying their hands in politics. Were Ntumazah still alive today, he would still tell IG that KAMERUN is ONE. That’s the simple truth, I don’t need Biya to tell my intellect that.

    If Ball-a, a disciple of Bate Bissong, a strong canda, can go in for federalism in lieu of division, he must be mad. Isn’t he? Some of u have been blindfolded by unrealistic parents, who spent their time telling you just one side of the story, malignantly preparing you guys for a false jihad. Forgetting that once you’ll see the colour of money, you’ll 4get abt such false jihad.

    Whom are you fighting in that ur Jihad. Biya, CMR citizens, Anglos, Francos, UK, FR? WHOM?

    You amputate everybody…

  8. ZERO VIVRE ENSEMBLE

    **** FOOD FOR THOUGHT ****

    „We are done being balanced from one colonial chess-board to another and assert unequivocally that going forward, for Ambazonia, it shall be TOTAL independence or resistance FOREVER”. (Tabe Ayuk et al., 2019)

    Of course, Cameroon is TWO AND DIVISIBLE.

    Cameroon = SC + LRC

    Dictator Biya SEPARATED his LRC from the INFORMAL union in 1984 when he changed the name of the country to LRC.

    Cameroon = SC + LRC

    therefore

    LRC = Cameroon – SC

    CONCLUSION

    Dictator Biya DIVIDED Cameroon in 1984

  9. By Bye La Ropoublique des menteurs, des pillars, des violeurs, des assassins. Ambazonians are going to stand firm for their fight for FREEDOM.

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