Over the last week, Cameroon’s ruling party members have been celebrating, telling the world that Cameroon is synonymous with peace after being led by Mr. Paul Biya for thirty five years. Each November 6, the country’s ruling party celebrates the accession of the country’s president to power some thirty five years ago to remind the suffering and dying masses that the government and the ruling party have granted them the best gift they can ever long for – peace. Mr. Biya, who has been in power for thirty-five years, has always taken pride in the country’s pseudo-stability. He holds that, thanks to him, Cameroon has always been seen around the world as an oasis of peace in a desert of chaos. But that now belongs to the past as the country’s peace is more of a mirage. This year’s celebrations of his many and fruitless years in power were held in a particularly challenging context, as the country is gradually unravelling and losing its appeal to tourists and investors.
Cameroon, which was once the benchmark for peace, has become a reference for mismanagement and conflict. The country has become a convergence point for all types of conflicts and disorder. In the North, Boko Haram,which exploded into the global stage some four years ago, has continued to sow terror in the country’s northern part. Thousands of civilian and military lives have been lost as a result of this insurgency, while trade between Nigeria and Cameroon has been interrupted as a result of this unfortunate situation, and there is no end in sight. The country is struggling both militarily and financially to contain this real danger that has given it a bad name. Its tourism sector has taken a hit, rendering thousands unemployed. The Boko Haram insurgency, which feeds on the high unemployment rate in the region, has created lots of refugees; a situation that is unfortunately challenging to the cash-strapped government.
In the eastern part of the country, Central African Republic (CAR) rebels have continued to stage sporadic attacks, as refugees born out of the country’s decades-old conflict continue to cross over into Cameroon. With the support of the United Nations, the Yaounde government seems to be handling the refugee crisis in the Eastern part of the country relatively well, though incursions by CAR rebels are robbing the government of a good night’s sleep.
However, it is the Southern Cameroons crisis that has really shattered the myth that Cameroon is an oasis of peace. Since October 2016, Cameroon has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The country’s English-speaking minority has been battling the aging and cash-strapped government for more than one year. The struggle that started as a result of socio-professional demands by lawyers and teachers quickly developed into widespread protests,as images of Buea University students being made to drink raw sewage went viral on social media.
Southern Cameroonians had had enough of the marginalization and dictatorship and it was time for them to show their teeth and this they have done for months. The struggle has finally grown into a full-blown rebellion due to the slaughtering of more than 30 Southern Cameroonians on October 1, 2017, following a failed declaration of independence that caused the government to unleash the full spectrum of its anger on unarmed citizens who were simply displaying their frustration with a system that has robbed them of economic opportunities and dignity.
Today, the military wing of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) led by Cho Ayaba is robbing the government of a good night’s sleep, as army soldiers and gendarme officers are being rushed to an early grave. In the North West region, Cameroon government troops are having a hard time restoring law and order. Some three uniformed officers have already lost their lives in this struggle that still has many more scenes. The fear of bombs going off in this volatile region is palpable, as many young men have made up their minds to fight government troops that have been killing civilians and raping women.
In Manyu Division alone, more than ten soldiers have met an ugly fate in the division’s equatorial jungle. The people of Manyu who have taken the full brunt of this struggle have vowed to make the government pay for its crimes and young innocent soldiers are falling like flies, leaving their wives and kids in tears, especially as the government of Cameroon is noted for reneging on its promises when it comes to compensating families of fallen soldiers.
Since October 1, the Cameroon government has been working hard to cover up the truth about the death of its army soldiers, as it does not want to demoralize those who are being sent to the jungles of Manyu to fight a war they know nothing about. According to our source at the Mamfe general hospital mortuary, once the body of a uniformed soldier is brought into the mortuary, officials quickly take off his uniform to hide his true identity. Our source revealed that by hiding the identity of the fallen soldiers, the government wants to give the impression that government troops are not taking any casualties in a war that is wholly unconventional. He added that army soldiers living in Mamfe are permanently nervous as they know they are targets of angry youths who want to take their revenge on those who killed their friends and brothers on October 1.
It should be recalled that many of the boys fighting in Mamfe are among the refugees who have fled to neighboring Nigeria and their use of hit-and-run tactics is working like a charm. According to an ally of Cho Ayaba who has elected to be anonymous, the struggle has simply entered into a critical phase. He added that with time, the government of Cameroon will regret why it had refused to come to the negotiating table. He stressed that, before long, government troops would be suffering from fatigue, adding that right now, many are permanently having butterflies in their stomachs, as they do not know where the next bullet will emerge.
He urged the government to look into the mirror of history in order to stave off the type of situation that saw off Mobutu from former Zaire. He recalled that it was a small bunch of rebels from among the “Banyamulenge”who had sought refuge in Rwanda and Uganda who came back under Laurent Desire Kabila’s leadership to humiliate the so-called Leopard of Zaire who was later put out of his misery by heartache and prostate cancer in the Kingdom of Morocco.
He stressed that the government’s victory of October 1, 2017 was pyrrhic and indeed a flash in the pan. He swore that since the government only understood one language – violence – Southern Cameroonians would stop at nothing to deliver violence to a government that is already living its last days. Peace, he said, was no longer Cameroon’s hallmark, adding that the world was already in the know of the charade Mr. Biya and his entourage have been selling to people around the world for decades.
He stressed that the Southern Cameroons crisis was gradually bringing the government and the economy to their knees, underscoring that the government’s latest request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a three billion dollar loan was testimony to the financial challenges facing the moribund government. He pointed out that while falling oil prices were also to blame, the Southern Cameroons crisis, which is costing the government a pretty penny, had delivered a dangerous economic blow to the government’s tired liver.
A Cameroon Intelligence Report/Cameroon Concord News Production