Widespread killings, burning villages, French Cameroun army soldier rapes and looming starvation have become normal in Southern Cameroons-Ambazonia. This is what the African Union, the EU and the United Nations have turned a blind eye after several trips by their respective agents to Southern Cameroons.
Ever since the 86 year old French Cameroun dictator Paul Biya declared war against the people of Southern Cameroons, as many as 3,000 people have been killed. More than half a million Ambazonians have been forced to flee their homes. Approximately 2.3 million people are currently at risk of going hungry, and 80 percent of schools in Southern Cameroons have been closed due to the fighting.
The Biya Francophone regime is applying guerilla tactics using fake armed groups in executing the war. So what is the conflict actually about? Who is fighting whom, and why? And does any world power have any realistic way of stopping the carnage going on in Southern Cameroons?
Bloodshed is nothing new for Southern Cameroons. For 57 years, a brutal marginalization policy raged in Anglophone Cameroon orchestrated by the Francophone dominated government in the predominantly French speaking Central African country.
Finally, some three years ago, protest by teachers and lawyers culminated into an armed conflict that has rocked the entire Southern Cameroons. The fighting in Southern Cameroons has become more intractable due to political tensions in Yaoundé over who to succeed President Biya.
To be sure, only the United States has been particularly active in finding a peace process. Southern Cameroons Diaspora groups in the US and Europe have also been championing the Ambazonia cause, seeing the Southern Cameroons struggle against the Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo government as a fundamental struggle against the French Cameroun oppression of Southern Cameroonians.
The French government of President Macron with the support of French speaking African diplomats has blocked any action for a referendum on whether Cameroon should be split in two, with Southern Cameroons becoming a separate country. The French government understanding is that any vote will pass overwhelmingly.
The leader of the Southern Cameroons Interim Government, President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe noted in a public address to the people of Ambazonia that all who cherish the rights of all people to govern themselves in liberty and law should and must rally behind the Federal Republic of Ambazonia and its institutions.
The final push for Ambazonia independence has been hampered by tensions among the more than 10 different groups. Some corrupt leaders such as Dr Samuel Ikome Sako, Chris Anu and Elvis Kometa including Dr Akwanga Ebenezar and Cho Ayaba have blatantly refused to overlook or ignore or downplay lesser conflicts in order to achieve what has been seen as a far more important goal: independence from La Republique du Cameroun.
The underlying tensions as fabricated by the North West/South West Divide have never actually gone away. And once the bigger fight for independence actually started three years ago, and it came time to actually get down to the business of fighting for a brand new country-the Federal Republic of Ambazonia the Anglophone Divide has come bubbling right back again. The liberation curse took hold when some Ambazonians like Boh Herbert felt entitled to power.
The Ambazonia president Sisiku Ayuk Tabe proclaimed the independence of Southern Cameroons and called for tolerance, unity and love for one another not parochialism and conflict. By appointing Dabney Yerima to the second-highest political office in the Southern Cameroons Interim Government, President Sisiku Ayuk Tabe has essentially built a unity government in which all rival groups are now willing to participate in the struggle.
Also, in the middle of the entire crisis in Southern Cameroons, President Paul Biya decided to basically pick a fight with yet another political group, the Bamilekes by arresting Prof Maurice Kamto, the man widely believed to have won the presidential elections in French Cameroun. There have been attacks by Cameroon government troops on Bamilekes, and some are now taking up arms and promising vengeance on the Beti Ewondo crime syndicate in Yaoundé.
Southern Cameroonians now have a new element of hatred and conflict, adding to what had been going on during the AAC1 and AACII. And that has added to the worry from the Trump administration and the US State Department who fear seeing the entire Ambazonia descending into a hotbed of ethnic genocidal acts on all sides. The violence probably won’t stop anytime soon.
The United States recently pushed for a UN Security Council briefing on Cameroon to try to limit the atrocities being committed by French Cameroun army soldiers. However, the US has not been able to get enough support at the UN Security Council to make peace happen.
The problem is that each of the countries in the CEMAC region including mighty Nigeria — have their own vested interests in the crisis and by extrapolation, the Gulf of Guinea and they can’t seem to agree on what to do to stop the fighting in Ambazonia. Correspondingly, in the African Union diplomats are divided.
This massive escalation in fighting in Southern Cameroons is also happening at the worst possible time, as it comes right at the end of Biya’s presidency. Every day that goes by is another day in which the people of Ambazonia will see their brand-new country torn apart by truly horrific violence.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai