The talks on seeking possible solutions to the Southern Cameroons crisis which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Cameroons have come to an end in Canada; a country which has been seeking to help find peaceful solutions to the fighting that has ruined the economies of Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions.
The talks, which are a continuation of previous talks, enabled the various factions to agree on the need to pursue a peaceful approach to resolving the crisis.
The factions were also made to understand that nobody ever wins a war and that the key objective should be winning the peace that many people are looking forward to both in Cameroon and abroad.
According to our source which elected anonymity, the meeting organizers urged all the factions to embrace peace and to understand that they have to walk away from their original positions if anything meaningful has to be achieved.
From every indication, most participants are leaning towards a Canadian-style federal system which will grant the regions extensive powers to run their own affairs while the federal government will focus on matters related to foreign policy, armed forces and natural resources.
This year’s talks have been held under tight security and participants have been sworn to secrecy to ensure that there are no leaks which may jeopardize efforts at finding peaceful resolutions to the crisis which has already run for six years.
Since starting in 2016, the crisis has resulted in the death of some ten thousand Cameroonians, including both soldiers and civilians and, from every indication, the end is not in sight as both parties continue to hold that a military solution is possible.
Unlike previous talks, last week’s talks received the blessing of the Yaounde government which has shown clear signs of fatigue and is looking forward to an end to the bleeding and a return to normalcy.
The crisis has robbed the government of vital development resources and the existence of many armed groups and criminals in the two English-speaking regions of the country makes it hard for real development projects to be implemented.
Over the last two years, armed groups and criminals have resorted to kidnapping for ransom, with government forces sometimes implicated in some of the criminality which is blighting the lives of innocent civilians who have nowhere to go to.
Recently, five priests and some civilians were kidnapped in Nchang, a locality some five kilometers from Mamfe town which is the chief town of Manyu Division in the South West Region and the kidnappers have requested USD 100,000; an amount the Catholic Church has said it does not have.
It should also be underscored that for more than five years, schools in rural parts of the two English-speaking regions of the country have remained closed and separatist fighters have been threatening teachers and students with death if they are seen in any of the government-owned schools.
By Chi Prudence Asong in Toronto