La Republique du Cameroun until the recent secession of its Anglophone part was CEMAC region’s biggest country. It is mostly known and in particular portrayed as such in the world media, for its peace, football and ethnic, religious and tribal tolerance. But the Southern Cameroons revolution has made all of the positives a thing of the past fostered by a sitting ruthless dictator, old colonialist power and new imperialist forces. This is exactly what is happening today in La Republique du Cameroun since the beginning of the Ambazonia uprising.
From its very inception, Anglophone lawyers and teachers rose up en masse and challenged the Francophone dominated regime in Yaoundé over what they described as endemic marginalization and economic discrimination. The revolt was directed against the heinous Francophone dictatorship of President Paul Biya and the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement party that has held power since November 6th 1982. This is the first revolt of this magnitude against a French surrogate regime.
Ghost town operations of a scale not witnessed for decades has continued for two years now in all major Southern Cameroons cities, towns and villages. Anti-government protests, initially led by students from the University of Buea and Bamenda, have inspired similar demonstrations among traders union, okada riders and transporters. In French Cameroun, years of subjugation at the hands of the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) has yielded both political apathy and a weak opposition.
The killing of several hundred of Southern Cameroonians and sweeping arrests on the part of the French Cameroun State Security and Intelligence Services reportedly pushed the protests to expand to include all the people of the former British Southern Cameroons. The regime started to take it very seriously following the escalation of repression and this also is an indication of the loss of social control by President Biya. Buea, Bamenda and all the major cities in Southern Cameroons are now besieged by the Francophone police and the French Cameroun army. Bullets and teargas were the first reaction, and then the Biya regime started to crackdown massively on Ambazonians, arresting more than 1000 activists. 4000 Southern Cameroonians have so far been killed. Hundreds have been carried to “phantom houses” or undisclosed locations, where they are tortured and the women and young girls raped by members of the infamous French Cameroun secret service. Approximately 50,000 have fled the onslaught into neighbouring Nigeria and thousands are living in the bushes. The UN says some 461,000 Southern Cameroonians have been internally displaced.
On October 7, the president-dictator, Paul Biya rigged the presidential election in French Cameroun and got a seventh term and is now imposing a new round of even more draconian measures against the people of Southern Cameroons which have subsequently created a club of military billionaires as 85% of the government’s budget is swallowed by military expenses. Meanwhile the ongoing wars in the Far North region against Boko Haram and in the East with rebels from the Central African Republic cost the French Cameroun government millions a day!
Things are beginning to fall apart as Cameroon was recently stripped of the right to stage the 2019 African Nations Cup finals. CAF confirmed the unanimous decision after a meeting of its executive committee in Accra. Cameroon’s ability to host the finals was first questioned when CAF announced in July last year that the tournament would have eight additional teams and only countries capable of putting on world-class tournament, with complete facilities and extensive infrastructure would be allowed to stage the event. CAF sent several inspection teams to Cameroon to check on the progress of the construction of five stadiums proposed for the tournament.
When CAF president Ahmad went to Cameroon in October he told the country’s President Paul Biya in front of assembled reporters: “CAF has no Plan B, nor have we ever considered taking the Nations Cup away from Cameroon.” But last week he criticised Cameroon’s inability to regularise the affairs of its football federation, which has been under the control of a normalisation committee for more than a year while it struggles to adopt a new constitution and elect a new executive.
On 30 November 2018, President Paul Biya signed a decree creating the “National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee (NDDRC) for organizing, supervising and managing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-fighters of Boko Haram and armed groups in Southern Cameroons willing to respond favourably to the Head of State’s peace appeal by laying down their arms.” In response, Ambazonia Self-Defence and Restoration Forces Council (ASC/RF), the command and control system prosecuting the war against French Cameroun rejected the so-called Biya presidential decree. The situation in both Cameroons is growing from bad to worse and even Francophone Cameroonians are fed up. The President-dictator lives in a five star Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva and his regime is slowly but surely taking the last kicks of a dying horse. To be accurate Cameroonians die three times over: they die of poverty, die of illness and die of war.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai