The current crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions has raged since late 2016 with protests over perceived marginalisation by the Francophone majority morphing into almost daily clashes between security forces and armed separatists.
“There’s a very serious national crisis going on, but I believe the government needs to be more serious in how they address it,” said Nagy.
“I’m not sure, and I hope I’m wrong, that the government realises just what a serious problem it is,” added. “Even though there have been some policies announced by the government – in my view, they have been more symbolic than active.”
The US cut some military assistance to Cameroon in February over concerns about human rights violations allegedly committed by the Cameroonian military.
The country has been seen as a key security partner for the US and some 300 troops are based in the northern town of Garoua in an effort to fight hardline Islamists in the north of Cameroon.
“I think it could be settled relatively quickly,” said Nagy, in discussion of the Anglophone crisis. “A couple of positive steps would be if the people in the north west and south west could directly elect their governors.”
The American diplomat, referring to regional governors who are Francophone, said it would be unlikely that officials would be French speakers if Anglophones had more say over their own governance. Nagy also suggested that the security forces operating in the Anglophone regions “need to speak English”.
A conference bringing together all sides involved in the crisis would be “very positive”, according to Nagy. It would need to be “endorsed by the highest levels of government”.