Speaking during the event, Barrister Felix Agbor-Balla who stands for federalism and who had served some time in jail because of this crisis, stressed that the government’s failure to comply with provisions of the Foumban Conference was to blame for the crisis. He also pointed to the flagrant and extensive social exclusion, social and economic injustice, structural division and political discrimination as those issues that needed to be promptly addressed if Cameroon had to remain one and indivisible.
He argued that to restore peace and to calm down tensions, Messieurs Mancho Bibixy, Terence Penn Khan and others facing trial at Military Courts in Yaounde must be released. He stressed that Mr. Ayuk Tabe Julius and 47 others arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon should be given access to their lawyers and offered amnesty to participate in any sincere and inclusive dialogue that would serve as the basis for the building of a modern and peaceful Cameroon.
He called for an immediate, inclusive and transparent dialogue that should be mediated by neutral parties as a means to guarantee compliance with any resolutions that will be made during the dialogue.
He stressed that ending the conflict through dialogue would speed up disarmament, a return of refugees and internally displaced, as well as a building of social and mutual trust.
“It is time to put a permanent end to killings on both sides, violence and suffering upon the innocent civilian population,” he stressed.
With such efforts, it is like Cameroonians will soon be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Cameroonians want peace. They want a genuine and negotiated peace. They need an inclusive and a sincere dialogue that will lay to rest many of the issues that are hurting the country’s efforts to attain sustainable levels of development.
But these efforts will surely not be a panacea. Old ways will be difficult to address. People who have been having many benefits from the corrupt and highly centralized system are not yet ready to lose some of their benefits. To them, the country is theirs and changing the status quo will be like bending over backwards to please the masses who, in their view, do not matter.
The Southern Cameroons crisis will surely linger for a long time. The country’s economy has already taken a lot of punches and if care is not taken, it may bottom out. For now, the government has one objective. Pay civil service salaries in order to avoid a popular uprising.
By Kingsley Betek with files from Sama Ernest and Chi Prudence Asong