Business in Cameroon | On November 18, 2019, René Emmanuel Sadi (photo), Cameroonian minister of communication, held a press conference in Yaoundé. During the press conference, the official reacted to the decision issued, on October 31, 2019, by Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, to exempt Cameroon from the facilities provided by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as of January 1, 2020. This withdrawal, according to the US president, is motivated by “persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by Cameroon.
“The Cameroonian government estimates that Cameroon’s eligibility for AGOA was a sovereign decision of the U.S. government, so much so that the government’s decision to withdraw Cameroon’s benefits from this law is an act of sovereignty that no one can dispute. However, what is questionable in our view are the pretexts and reasons given to explain or justify this desire of the United States government,” Sadi said.
According to the Minister of Communication, the Cameroonian government can say that these reasons put forward to justify the decision of American authorities hardly correspond to the reality on the ground. The reason provided stem, the Cameroonian government thinks, either from “ignorance or unawareness of the real situation, as it has prevailed and still prevails in the North-West and South-West; or from a deliberate desire to ignore this reality.”
In any case, says Emmanuel René Sadi, the main reasons that have forced the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to ensure a significant presence of defence and security forces in the North-West and South-West regions are to preserve Cameroon’s territorial integrity against separatists who took arms against the Republic. In addition, the Minister of Communication maintains that Cameroon is only ensuring the safety of people and property in the regions concerned.
“How can one accuse Cameroonian defence and security forces of human rights violations (…) but remain insensitive and silent in the face of the unspeakable atrocities committed on a daily basis by armed pro-independent groups in the North-West and South-West” regions of the country, the government spokesman questioned.
According to the official, the Cameroonian government cannot hide its astonishment due to the absence of any reference (let alone condemnation), in the US president’s release, to the “countless and innumerable” atrocities perpetrated by pro-independent armed gangs in the North-West and South-West, against defence forces and innocent populations, even though many images and videos, on media and social networks particularly, constantly testify to this