Ottawa will have to show a little more patience before attempting to initiate talks again about the Southern Cameroon Crisis. Its assistant deputy minister for global affairs, Peter MacDougall, was expected in Cameroon at the end of March, but Yaoundé ended up cancelling at the last minute, reports Africa Intelligence.
All known peace initiatives including those led by the United Nations, the Catholic Church and regional and international governments – have either stalled or failed.
That has included the “Swiss process”, a behind-the-scenes move by the Geneva-based NGO Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue to host a series of “pre-talks” — capacity-building sessions with separatist leaders. It ran aground in 2019 after the Cameroon government rejected the approach.
Secret bilateral negotiations, led primarily by the office of Prime Minister Joseph Ngute and a group of imprisoned separatist leaders known as the “Nera 10” , also stumbled after two exploratory rounds – the result of infighting among secessionists and a perceived lack of will within the government to make the necessary political concessions.
That lack of control over fighters has encouraged a sense of lawlessness, which has undermined the appeal of the separatist cause.
In some cases, tired of the war – and what is often the high-handedness of the armed men in the bush – communities have demanded that secessionist fighters leave their villages, or have attacked separatist camps. That does not necessarily mean a vote of confidence in the government; rather, it’s likely a sign of frustration over the disruption caused by the conflict.
Yet, the perception of the fighters is that they are local champions, risking their lives for a legitimate cause.
Edited by Nelly Epupa