A group of Southern Cameroonians resident in Maryland, U.S.A. has been working with the Prime Minister’s Office of the Republic of Cameroon to prove that the Yaounde government is still popular among Cameroonians living abroad. The objective of this scheme is help change America’s perspective of the situation in Cameroon.
As Southern Cameroonians demonstrate across North America to prove that the Yaoundé government is dictatorial and has been rejected by its citizens, the Prime Minister’s Office in Yaoundé has quietly contacted some dubious Southern Cameroonians in Maryland for them to organize rallies and demonstrations that will enable American Congressmen to change their perspective of what is happening in Cameroon.
Demonstrations were supposed to have been organized in Washington D.C. and Boston where even homeless Americans had to be lured into the demonstrations with food and promises of money. T-shirts for the event had been produced and handed to supporters of the ailing and aging government in Yaoundé in an event that was unfortunately not captured on camera as the elected photographer, Joe Mombang, turned out to be ineffective. Indeed, Mr. Momband of Maryland is simply not tech-savvy and could not produce pictures that had to be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for payment.
The team of unpatriotic Southern Cameroonians was in Cameroon during the festive period to get payment for their job, a job that was poorly done, but did not have the pictures to demonstrate their malicious actions against Southern Cameroonians who have been challenging the Yaoundé government for more than three years, charging it with marginalization and corruption.
The anger and frustration of the team leader, whose name has been withheld, boiled over while they were having lunch in a restaurant Yaoundé in which the Cameroon Concord News Group West and Central African Bureau Chief, Kingsley Betek, was also eating lunch. He could overhear the desperate government supporters arguing at the top of their voices, with the team leader regretting that if he had properly captured the event on camera, he would have been sure of netting more than CFAF 10 million at the end of the day.
Mr. Mombang was tongue-lashed for his ineptitude by the team leader who sounded so desperate and who was trying to think up news of scamming the Yaoundé government that is also very desperate to clean up its image around the world, especially in the United States where the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, has been mounting enormous pressure on the crumbling Yaoundé government.
The Trump White House is breathing down the neck of the Yaoundé government and it is starving the disintegrating government of some vital resources that have helped keep the regime a float for a long time.
The Trump Administration has been castigating the Yaoundé government for flagrant human rights abuses in the two English-speaking regions of the country and, recently, it has disconnected the cash-strapped Yaoundé government from AGOA, an economic arrangement that has helped Cameroonian businesses to have access to the lucrative American market for years.
This decision has cut the government off vital economic opportunities that have been bringing in millions of dollars to the country’s treasury. The decision, which became effective in January 2019, has already begun biting and senior government officials have already started complaining, with some secretly calling on the Yaoundé government to negotiate with the Trump Administration which has been calling for an inclusive dialogue that will help bring about peace in Cameroon.
The U.S. Department of State is already mulling targeted sanctions against some senior Cameroon government officials such as Joseph Beti Assomo, Jacques Fame Ndongo, Laurent Esso, Issa Tchiroma and Paul Atanga Nji who are considered by Americans as those responsible for the escalation of violence and human rights violations in the two English-speaking regions of the country.
The Southern Cameroons crisis, which started in 2016, has already resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 Cameroonians, including some 2,000 soldiers, most of whom are from the center and south regions which are the regions still supporting a moribund, corrupt and inefficient government led by Paul Biya.
Besides the human cost of the conflict, the country’s economy has also taken a blow to the liver, with state-owned corporations in the two English-speaking regions of the country going under. CDC, PAMOL and SONARA have also been victims of the conflict and the Yaoundé government is currently and frantically looking for resources to rebuild these state-owned corporations that have been significant and useful revenue streams to a government that is not emotionally attached to its people.
For some three years now, children in rural areas of the English-speaking regions have not been going to school due to government-orchestrated violence that is playing out in that part of the country. Today, government soldiers have transformed themselves into kidnappers and they are wreaking havoc on the helpless population.
Last week, some five government army soldiers kidnapped a man in Buea, a city located on the foot of Mount Cameroon, and asked the relatives of the victim to pay in CFAF 2 million before he could be released. Security forces followed the trail of the money transfer and arrested the soldiers who have operating in this way for months. Cameroon’s army soldiers have become more of a problem to the population they are supposed to protect.
In many parts of Southern Cameroons, armed groups, including those formed by the country’s Territorial Administration minister, Paul Atanga Nji, are running wild, and intimidating the local population that has been left homeless due to extreme government actions aimed at overcoming tough Southern Cameroonian fighters who have given government forces a run for their money.
Some 250 villages have been burnt down by government troops in the two English-speaking regions. Kwakwa, Kembong, Ossing and others are yet to recover from the massive inferno government troops created in these towns. Many mentally ill and old people were burnt alive in their homes, as government troop went on a rampage in a bid to turn the local population against armed fighters who mostly operate from the jungles.
The killings are still going on and instead of addressing the main issues; the Yaoundé government has adopted an approach wherein it has been papering over the cracks. Its cosmetic solutions have not addressed any issues and more violence is in the menu, as parliamentary and municipal elections are in the offing.
Southern Cameroonian fighters have vowed to disrupt the elections and the Yaoundé government, which is wont to violence, has already dispatched some 1,000 special forces to the two English-speaking regions of the country where they are expected to rape women and kill children.
Despite this show of muscles by the government, Southern Cameroonian fighters are still winning some critical battles, especially as some government troops are defecting and carrying with them arms and secrets to the armed groups.
The world should be bracing for more bloodshed and the greatest victims will surely be women, children and the old who, in many cases, do not have where to turn to. The days ahead do not hold any promise for the ordinary Southern Cameroonian and the fear of the unknown is gradually driving many innocent citizens out of their towns and cities before the real violent battles start.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai in the United Kingdom