Cameroon’s separatist leader is willing to talk peace, but only with UN backing

DW | Sisiku Ayuk Tabe is due to appeal his life sentence in court in April. The leader of the bloody quest for an independent Ambazonia in Anglophone Cameroon told DW about his terms for dialogue with the regime in Yaounde.

“It will be a shame for the international community to wait and come late, as was the case in Rwanda,” Sisiku AyukTabe told DW. The Ambazonian leader sounded the often repeated warning in a written reply to DW from his cell at Yaounde Principal Prison.

AyukTabe and nine members of his de facto cabinet had just heard from their lawyers that their appeal case was postponed to April 16.

A military court condemned the 10 men to life in prison for terrorism and incitement in August 2019. They had been among scores of separatists who were detained in a brutal crackdown by the regime of President Paul Biya.

The separatist movement, AyukTabe told DW, is open to dialogue but on condition that the regime in Yaounde is not at the forefront. A UN-backed mediation process is the only way forward.

‘An issue of sovereignty’

“Southern Cameroons is fighting for a total and unconditional independence from Cameroon as opposed to the independence by joining [French Cameroon] to which we were lured by the United Nations and the Trusteeship System in 1961,” said AyukTabe.

Four years into the separatist struggle, Biya still sees the conflict as an internal matter. His national dialogue for peace was stillborn and his decision to grant ‘special status’ for the English-speaking North West and South West regions rejected.

“The Special Status as conceived by the regime of Cameroon’s president, Mr. Paul Biya, is clearly a joke in very bad taste,” said AyukTabe. Biya, he argues, is in no position to confer any status on any portion of the Anglophone regions.

“The conflict in Southern Cameroons relates to issues of sovereignty brought about by a botched UN decolonization of the former trust territory of the Southern Cameroons under United Kingdom administration.”

The people of the region are united and determined to right the wrongs of an aborted independence process and to “restore their sovereignty,” he told DW.

President Biya’s internal matter

Political analyst John Ako agrees that Biya’s interventions to end the crisis to date are laughable at best. “Of what nature is the so called special status in Cameroon? A special status in reality including government officals is known as nothing. In fact there is no substance to the special status.”

In the meantime, the bloodshed has continued unabated. An accurate picture of the atrocities and the cost to human life in the Anglophone regions is hard to gauge. The UN puts death toll at 3,000 and the number of internally displaced people at more than 679,000.

In November 2016, lawyers and teachers in the region embarked on a series of street demonstrations to demand equal treatment.

Their civic action later morphed into frequent running gun battles between the military and separatist fighters. AyukTabe and his followers have been engaged in a full-scale armed separatist struggle since.

The bodies have been piling up and residents have been fleeing the most volatile parts of the Anglophone regions as Biya’s army tries to crush the movement. Some 60,000 of them have crossed the border into Nigeria. Over 855,000 children have been unable to attend school amid the fighting and tensions for several years.

AyukTabe insists that Biya must withdraw the military from the streets of the regions, free those who have been detained over the conflict. That, and engaging in talks mediated by the UN, would address the root causes of the crisis.

Separatists are arming up

Political analyst John Ako warns of the risk that fighting could escalate as separatist fighters, known locally as “Amba Boys” who started with Dane guns have now acquired sophisticated weaponry and experience.

“The days are getting darker because these boys have not only gained experience and formal training in neighboring countries, but are bringing sophisticated weapons too,” Ako told DW.

Human Rights Watch has reported that the armed separatists have committed untold atrocities in the Anglophone regions. AyukTabe told DW that the perpetrators were militias who are sponsored by the Biya regime that wants to “demonize” the separatist movement.

“The pace, intensity and gruesomeness of killings has accelerated in recent times. The presence of Ambazonian self-defence fighters is the only thing preventing the complete extermination of the civilian population in Southern Cameroons,” he said.

“For the very few self-defence fighters that were foolish enough to heed to Mr. Biya’s call and dropped their weapons, they have been subjected to torture, imprisonment and even summary execution.”

Ako says the question of which side is to blame is not that clear cut. “The Ambazonian soldiers are committing a lot of errors. If they miss their target and continue attacking civilians and civilian targets such as churches, markets, or schools, these are war crimes.”

An appeal court victory?

In the separatist strongholds of Buea and Bamenda, many believe that the release of AyukTabe and other separatist leaders could signal a return to peace.

“Let them be released so people can get back to their normal lives because there has been a lot of suffering,” Sangtum Banabas, a 33-year-old commercial motorbike rider, told DW.

Tem Hycenth is sad that thousands have died in the Anglophone regions. He wants the two sides to the conflict to make peace for the sake of the people.

Taniform Jonas is of another opinion. “Cameroon has no judicial system. It is only Almighty God who will free the detained Ambazonia leaders. I pray that President Paul Biya pardons them so we can have peace again,” the 67-year-old said.

As Cameroon reports a rising number of coronavirus cases, concern is growing in the conflict-torn regions and many would like to see an end to conflict sooner rather than later, in order to deal with the outbreak.

AyukTabe and the others were arrested in Nigeria in January 2018 and extradited under questionable circumstances. Around seven months later, at a nightlong trial in a military court in Yaounde, he and his co-accused were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The 10 had asylum status in Nigeria at the time of their arrest.

AyukTabe and his de facto cabinet have appealed their conviction. The hearing is set for April 16, 2020 in the Yaounde Appeal Court. DW asked barristers what they thought of AyukTabe’s pending appeal case.

Diplomacy, not guns

Defence lawyer Amungwa Tanyi Nico is sure that the verdict of the military court will ultimately be overturned. It has been a case that is “more political than judicial” being heard in “kangaroo courts,” he said.

“We’ve been putting our best as usual in order to get the public to understand that our people can never have justice here because at the court of first instance — the military tribunal they were supposed to be freed. That court did not have the competence to try people with refugee status.”

But Julius Achu, a lawyer for the regime in cases against the separatists, believes the appeals court could amend the military court’s verdict. “The judges take the decision according to their consciences and the law,” he told DW. It is his view that releasing the separatists would have little effect if the fighters who hiding out in the bushes of the Anglophone region fail to disarm.

“There’s no government in this world that will ever accept that you take up arms and say we should separate and they accept to separate.”

Check Also

André Onana parle de sa « rivalité » avec Fabrice Ondoa

*** | André Onana et Fabrice Ondoa sont les deux gardiens qui se disputent la …


  1. Julius Tabe, is fumbling. He is doing everything possible, to kill the struggle. He himself,
    put himself in this situation, when he refused to dance monikim { traditional dance} with
    those who matter. Up to today, it is very impossible, for him to turn to the right pathway.

    • True. Sisiku Tabe, might have been the starter of the fire but the fire cannot be put out by him anymore. Mr. Biya declared the war on Southern Cameroons and right now, he cannot stop the war without Southern Cameroons being freed from the so-called One and Indivisible LRC. The struggle is bigger than any of them!

  2. Zero talk, zero negotiations with Sissiku. You are staying in
    jail. Someone has to pay the price, who better than a self declared president. I can guarantee this, Sissiku will be freed someday, only after Paul Biya dead, not before. The one person that will never step foot to Cameroon again, not be pardoned is Ayaba.

    • Young man, you have to distinguish your wishful thinking from reality. Quite apart from the substance of the armchair journalism above, the hearing of the appeal has been adjourned to next month, the outcome of which even the presiding judge cannot know until he hears it.

    • He will be lucky to survive corona when that thing reaches kondengui.
      To be serious, he should be hanged for treason

  3. Who appointed this idiot to represent anglophone Cameroonians. He doesn’t even know that he has no control over these Ambazonia thugs that are causing havoc in the anglophone communities. Just as the so-called Ambazonians hijacked our fight against marginalization with their Ambazonia separation nonsense, the young Ambazonia thugs are now in total control. Most of them don’t even know who the heck is Ayuk Tabe. Kidnapping and demanding ransom from anglophones is their means of survival and they will never let it go. Most of them are uneducated youths who had no other means of survival and have found one where they are making a lot of money. Ayuk Tabe’s words can’t stop them as they don’t even know him. Time has passed Mr. Ayuk and you have no control over the Ambazonians.

    • He is the godfather of the self proclaimed “élu”.
      Their end is near

    • Great analysis Pal! He has become irrelevant. His authority is in his head, which is why I call for zero negotiation with this con man.

    • Bobjazz ?or you call yourself what?who hijacked your fight?have you ever accepted that there is a problem not to talk of fighting for it?always selling after the market

  4. Ayuk Tabe failed to understand, that he had chosen the wrong partners in politics – graffi.
    See, where the cabals have dumped him. They have refused to even tell the Nera story to
    anyone and are `parambulating` in SA, with big grammer wey no di bring any results.
    They keep on fumbling by the day. Has his wife, received the reply to the letter that she
    wrote to lady Chantal?

    • Dull foooooolish Joshua. If you have not read the Home Office report consisting of 86 pages detailing this crisis then find a way and lay hands on it to strengthen your weak eyes. One thing with your Sakolites is that you all are too dull to reason beyond your Blue and White army bother and give very little thought to the way the international community see you all. The UK home office has labelled Samuel Ikome Sako a fraud, thief, embezzler of donations and a crook. They labelled Ayaba Cho a hardliner taking no nonsense from Biya and Ayum Tabe was pronounced the jailed leader whose team debates before taking decisions. In your everlasting foolishness, you keep deceiving yourselves the Maryland pastors matter to anyone. No they will be forgotten with time. You pick your side dull man.

    • @Joshua, Do you know why donations are a tax write offs in the western world? Find out and then implore reason in your thought pattern to see how they will recognize those who embezzle donations.

      Some of you are an embarrassment to Ambazonia. Too foolish. The graffis are a smart bunch reason Biya cannot stand them. And without them this noise you keep making of the struggle will be dead and gone.

      CPDM has won massively in Lebialem and Fako while a re-run of election in Graffi heartland has failed the second time with DOs and Mayors missing repeatedly. Unfortunately your tribal small mind see only hate to spew. May God grant your dull generation tangible wisdom.

      • Dot, Very true. If the people of the Norther zone were not as full of tenacity as they are, this struggle would have collapsed a very longtime ago. Envy and foolishness is eating the brains of many in this struggle. never shall i stand behind a pastor for anything worth it. Technocrats and hard working people are what we need to move forward. All the labelled bible carriers are a failure in everything in this world. The hardeners of his struggle are mostly from the northern zone.

        The tribal jam addicts are very jealous and unproductive people only making noise and nothing else. Ask them what can they produce ? NOTHING. very lazy people.

  5. @joshua ”Ayuk Tabe failed to understand, that he had chosen the wrong partners in politics – graffi.” …Who are the graffi people that Ayuk Tabe is playing politics with? You are beggining to sound like those SW CPDM elites.Those your fake pastors are the ones playing politics in a revolution.It is anti-revolutionary to attack a jailed leader of a freedom movement.The international community recognises Sisiku as the leader of the seperatist movement,not those scammers in maryland who are playing politics,trying to hijack the revolution inorder to end up handing us back to LRC.Since Chris Anu started attacking Sisiku,has Sisiku ever responded to him?Chris Anu and Sako have remained fools.They are irrelevant.Which media organ have ever gone to Maryland to interview them.

  6. You want those pastors to make us lose all the leverages that we may have earned, to use as a baggaining chip for our freedom,becos of their greed for power,right? Don’t support Sisiku,becos Cho Ayaba,a graffi man have gone into alliance with him.Keep following those unknown leaders (Sako and Chris Anu) of the revolution,lets see,if they will succeed to take u to Buea with Sisiku in jail. Which media have ever searched for Sako,in the capacity of leader of the revolution to interview him? people are scamming u guys and u are following them like sheep goats.
    Even Tassang who brought the revolution to the diaspora,those fake pastors who want to hijack the revolution,don’t even want him to sit on the table of negotiation.They will not succeed to sell SC to LRC.Let them play thier politics.

    • True true Manga. The Sheep–goats do not know abouut the hybrids. People who don’t read or do research fail to understand that a sheep goat does exist.

  7. @joshua Go and check,Jomo Kenyata was jailed during the Mau Mau resistance,when Kenya was fighting for their independence.Jomo Kenyata left prison and travelled to London to sign the independence of Kenya.
    Those thieves in Maryland who want to hijack the revolution and hand us back to LRC.Tell them that they have failed.We stand by our leaders in jail.

    • @MANGA, sorry to note that you did not understand my post, but jumped up
      frightened, like a rat that heard some noice.
      Point of correction: there is nothing like `sheepgoat`, please. Call it sheep ie.
      refering to the one that our Moslem brothers keep. Call it goat, like the one
      that was slaughtered, when your sister, got married. Now i believe, you and
      many others, have learnt the difference. No future lecture on this again.
      Your Sisiku, is tearing the struggle apart, just so you know. You are on the
      wrong pathway with him, but you are free to either continue or change your
      The struggle will make strides without your Sisiku. He is different, from Kenyatta.

      • Dull Joshua, take heed around you, read what the world think of you and your fake thieving pastors. Besides, it is your job to make your audience read and understand you instead of wasting your time to differentiate between a sheep and a goat that doesn’t exist in pidgin. Your thickness is frightening. It reveals why Pastors think they are better in self defense than those who have been fighting for decades and controlling active fighters on the ground. You wicked souls will rather get everyone killed than letting power evade you. What an embarrassment you all are. CPDM man. From your writing, it is clear you will rather let Biya burn down all our villages than let Ayaba shine the light to freedom simply because he is a graffi man. Cursed soul!

    • You must be really crazy @ manga. You want to compare this con man called Ayuk Tabe to Njomo Kenyatta? Who ever appointed you Ambazonians or even gave you guys the mandate to represent anglophones? Your useless Ambazonia terrorists are not recognized by the majority of the anglophone community and you guys should stop this nonsense. We were marching to stop the marginalization of anglophones by the Biya regime and not separation. You are destroying the future of our kids and taking Africa back to the 19th century. You Ambazonia terrorists claim to be fighting for anglophone freedom. How do you explain the fact that most anglophones are running away from your Ambazonia thugs in anglophone cities to francophone cities for protection? Stay hiding in your bushes and leave anglophones alone.

      • See this Mbalmayo devil @Bobbijazz.

        Who elected you to speak for the anglophones you pathetic half breed. The UK home office has detailed and reported this crisis in a way never before. Despite all your manyongo efforts to sweep everything under the carpet, externalize Biya and paint us as terrorist will not work. As the days go by, the truth becomes more pronounced. Genocidaires and their enablers will stand trial in the end. Wicked bambe smelling mouth santa mafia bastard.

  8. Father of LOVE ?

    I don’t know why they are still keeping this man alive ?

  9. @bobjazz ”Who appointed this idiot to represent anglophone Cameroonians.”….The same person that appointed Biya,a Francophone to apply policy of assimilation to anglophones,is the one that appointed Sisiku to stop that policy of assimilation of anglophones…..
    Sisiku have never claimed that he has control over the boys on ground.What he has always said is that the boys on ground are defending themselves and their families from the enemy.And that the solution is for Biya to withdraw his troops from Ambasonia.He has never said that he has control over the boys.
    U will cry more……

    • Yaa, Kongosa…so you want troops to be withdrawn so Amba boys can kidnap the whole Noso for ransom?

      The greatest blunder would be to withdraw troops. In fact, even if there is a deal, troops have to stay there for at least 10years…

      • The kamto spies are beginning to show themselves. Our guns will decide who stay and who leaves. Mark my words. Operation TTOF and the Nsahlai project was recently launched. If Corona doesn’t take you all out we will take you out by force. Wicked Bamileke dirty smelling mouth devil. You are mine to brutally exterminate.

  10. hahahhaha wuna still dey there? i trowe salut oohh ambafoolnains. so actually u guys still think someone really carrs. the UN is now occuoped with the global pandemic and u think they have tome for blood mongers like u. after the epidemic, they will still be occupied for clean up. so hang on there, cos it’ll he a long ride! we have all run away from our lands cos u egoistic& blood sucking vampires abroad thought u could dictate our lives & now he wants negotiations, suddenly u are against that! sahhh na wah oohhh u guys really make is sick and we go see who dem go comot that side say them dey cam rule, we are waiting for your returns!

  11. @Zam-Zam The Y’de juntas are the chief kidnappers.Were Amba boys the ones that kidnap Sisiku and Co and kept for 7 months in a secret location?Were Amba boys the ones that killed those children and pregnant women in Ngarbuh?Do u think Biya is keeping those troops there to protect people from being kidnape?Those troops are there to continue to keep the people as slaves under Y’de and enforce Biya’s policy of assimilation which the people do not want.The people don’t have a say,vis a vis their governance.The people are not free to choose who should be their leader.Biya should withdraw his troops from our towns.That is the only way.
    By keeping his troops there,he is treating us as if we are some captured people,whereas,we joined LRC on our freewill.Biya should withdraw his troops.

    • None wants CMRs to be treated as if they were under siege….Ambo boys have shown their true colours in the past. Once the army quits, this is it!

      It will Jango’s law that would reign…

    • @ Kongosa man, I have asked a question and I need an answer. If your Ambazonia thugs are fighting for the freedom of anglophones, how do you explain the fact that most anglophones are instead running away from the anglophone cities to the francophone cities for protection from the havoc caused by your ambazonia thugs in anglophone cities? I have said a million times that your ambazonia terrorist organization has no mandate, are not recognized, and don’t represent the majority of the anglophones. Stop your terrorism and allow our kids to go to school and have a bright future just like your kids in the diaspora. You can’t force people to support you. The anglophones don’t like your terrorist organization and you can’t force them to support you by be-heading, kidnapping and demanding ransom.

  12. @joshua I can see u have no argument to make apart from rambling like a mad dog.I just gave the example of Jomo Kenyatta and u said Sisiku is not Jomo Kenyatta without elaborating why.It is now absolutely clear,that u are sabotaging Sisiku because of his alliance with ”graffi” people.Are u another Ekema Patrick with your NW/SW divide? Now,give us an example of a leader who have ever succeeded in getting freedom for his people by pilotting the sheep from abroad,while an opposing leader is in jail.where has it ever happen?It is not going to start from thieves like Sako and Chris Anu who have stole our money and are politiking with NW/SW divide.No doubt u keep talking about Ssiku’s alliance with graffi people.

  13. @joshua You are on the wrong pathway with Sako and Chris Anu.Nobody contributes to their group anymore.They are the biggerfishes that we would fry on the course of this revolution.Don’t worry,they would feassle out with time.They are in the diaspora,they don’t even have one of them in jail,the international community does not know Sako as leader of the sepearatist movement.Sako is a thief.

  14. Where, is the much money, in dollars, that Sisiku, got as contributions for the struggle?
    And this was when, the steam was very powerfull.
    The dream sisiku / cabal gov in SA, has no way forward. It is a nuisance.

    • @Johua,

      Shut your foolish smelly mouth. You and this your dullness have no bounds. Where is the $2 milling dollars your pastors stole? Those criminals will definitely pay for their crime. Have you heard that the population have risen up and chased out Field Marshall from Lebang btw? General Ayeke now run things in Lebialem and by the end of this year, you and your pastors will have no relevance to stand on. Dull brian.

  15. @joshua ”Where, is the much money, in dollars, that Sisiku, got as contributions for the struggle?” Wow,is that why Sako stole our money?becos money got missing under Sisiku’s stewardship?I did’nt hear people accusing Sisiku of stealing the money that got missing under his stewardship.But in Sako’s case,everybody is saying that it is ”President”Sako that have stole our money.Sako,Chris Anu,Elvis Kometa have created Biya’s styled Gov’t and Cavaye styled National Assembly in Maryland and are robing Ambazonia of their hard earned tax payers money.

  16. @joshua Sorry the steam was still very powerful under Sako.Thats why he suceeded in duping us with MTTB contribution.Do u know why the enthusiasm to contribute did not die after money got missing under Sisiku’s stewardship? it is becos people did not accuse president Sisiku of having stolen the money.People accused but his collaborators.Reason why after the money that got missing under Sisiku’s stewardship,there was still that enthusiasm to contribute.MTTB contribution was a huge success.People are accusing but president Sako of having stole the money.Why has the enthusiasm to contribute die a natural dead after the MTTB embezzlement? It is becos the president himself is the one people are accusing.Sako took over when the steam was still very hot and spoil it with corruption,embezzlement.

  17. @Joshua ”The dream sisiku / cabal gov in SA, has no way forward. It is a nuisance.”’…So long as Sisiku continues to stay in jail,his gov’t will continue to make headlines both nationally and internationally.Even international news organs are following Sisiku’s case.Aljazeera,BBC,France 24,CNN and other international news organs with wide international audience have reported that the leader of the Cameroon’s seperatist movement have been sentenced to life imprisonment so,his gov’t has come to stay and will continue to make headlines so long as he continues to stay in jail.Even before Sisiku went to jail,France 24 searched for him and he granted them interview in Nigeria. Even when he was brought to Cameroon,France 24,Aljazeera reported it,When he was jailed for life,they reported it.

  18. @Joshua I have never seen even Afrique media showing Sako on their TV,not to talk of discussing about him as the leader of the seperatist movement.

  19. Camerbeleiver (Colby )

    What a clown!!

    • I have said here that when you are outside you run empty mouth once inside kondengui you will change your mouth Bibixi,Balla etc… they all know what is the 11th region of cameroon. Kikiki…

  20. Camerbeleiver (Colby )

    You haven’t seen anything yet .

lectus ut dolor. ut at dapibus eleifend commodo pulvinar risus.