Since the Southern Cameroons crisis hit the global stage, Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, who opted for a military solution, has made fire and brimstone speeches, announcing that the insurgents who have grown in experience and confidence over the last five years, will be rolled back by the country’s military in no time. But each time he delivers his long, meaningless speeches, the situation only gets worse.
To date, some 10,000 Cameroonian civilians have been killed in a war that was clearly avoidable and some 4,000 army soldiers have been sent to an early grave with close to 2,000 soldiers living with long-term physical disabilities due to the war.
As for the economy, it has taken a nosedive, with thousands of Cameroonian graduates hitting the pavement in search of jobs. Things are really looking down for the country, especially as corruption and the struggle for power have become the main challenges that seem to herald the end of a long, corrupt and ineffective era. Mr. Biya, the country’s long-serving president, has nothing to show for his 40 years in power.
He has divided the country, tribalized the army which now operates like his personal militia. Dissenting voices are swiftly taken to the country’s maximum-security prisons and the Diaspora, which is supposed to play a critical part in the country’s development, is instead viewed as the government’s enemy, making it hard for the country’s huge diasporic community to invest in Cameroon.
Here below are some of his empty threats that have instead been counter-productive since the conflict that has pitted the government against the country’s English-speaking minority erupted.
“If my appeal to warmongers to lay down their weapons remains unheeded, the Defence and Security Forces will be instructed to neutralize them. I am well aware of the distress these rebels are causing the populations of these regions. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
“Conversely, those who persist in committing criminal acts and violating the laws of the Republic will have to contend with our Defence and Security Forces and will face the full force of those same laws.”
“For those who persist in going down the wrong road and continue to use violence, we will have no other choice than to combat them in order to protect all our fellow citizens. Our Defence and Security Forces will, once again, perform their duty with restraint, but without weakness. I wish to reassure them of my full support and high esteem.”
“I hail the patriotic spirit of those of our fellow citizens in the North-West and South-West Regions who are not only increasingly cooperating with the Defence and Security Forces, but are also courageously fighting these armed gangs. They have realized that these gangs are not acting in the interest of the people. I would also like to commend here the bravery of our Defence and Security Forces that have not failed in their duty to protect the integrity of the national territory, the people and property. They deserve the respect and consideration of everyone. I encourage them to keep it up and to remain a republican force that respects human rights.”
“I would like, once again, to reiterate Government’s firm determination to restore peace in the regions that are under security threats. It should be clearly understood that wherever the perpetrators and sponsors of such acts are hiding, they will be relentlessly tracked down and will face the full force of the law. In this fierce fight against barbarism, I urge the Cameroonian people to step up collaboration with our defence and security forces in order to neutralize the fanatics of armed violence and to preserve the integrity of our territory.”
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai