Five separatist fighters, among them a key commander known as “General Capture and Destroy”, laid down their weapons on Wednesday at a national dialogue to end separatist conflict in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions.
The ex-fighters told a press conference in the capital, Yaounde, their decision was guided by a quest to restore peace and stability in the troubled regions.
“It is time for us to give peace a chance. People suffering are in Nigeria as refugees. Let’s bring peace back to our homeland. Let us see how we can reconstruct the villages that have been burned and lives that have been frustrated,” the ex-commander said.
He said, as a measure to resolve the conflict amicably, the government should give more autonomy to the ten regions of the country especially the English-speaking regions.
The five ex-separatist fighters bring the number of ex-fighters that are taking part in the national dialogue that began on Monday to 35.
The decision of the ex-fighters to drop their weapons during the talks was a major step towards the success of the national dialogue and return to peace in the regions, spokesperson of the national dialogue, George Ewane told reporters.
Some leaders of separatists, mainly based out of the country, have declined an invitation to participate in the talks, stressing that they are not “inclusive and sincere.”
The dialogue will end on Friday with “pragmatic and long-lasting solutions” according to Cameroon’s Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute.
Since 2017, armed separatists have been clashing with government forces in the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest in a bid to create an independent nation they called “Ambazonia”.
Hundreds have died and more than 530,000 have been displaced internally by the conflict, according to the United Nations.