French Cameroun and Southern Cameroons are moving slowly but surely closer to a full-scale war, with fighting and belligerent rhetoric coming from Francophone political elites in Yaoundé and the Interim Government of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia.
The Southern Cameroons crisis has already crippled the fragile economies in both Cameroons, and it has created new burdens on neighboring Nigeria precisely in the Cross River State and Benue regions.
In a recent audio message, Southern Cameroons Communications Secretary, Chris Anu said that French Cameroun soldiers have killed hundreds of civilians in Lebialem and Belo and were developing plans to bomb Ambazonian settlements.
Southern Cameroons Acting President Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako, speaking on the Southern Cameroons Television, said the French Cameroun attacks deep inside Ambazonia amounted to crimes against humanity. Dr. Sako has also rejected any peace talks with the Biya Francophone Beti Ewondo government, saying Francophone leaders only understood the language of the gun.
There has not been any strong condemnation of the atrocities committed by French Cameroun soldiers in Southern Cameroons from the international community. The Southern Cameroons government has stated that it will not agree to any negotiations until the President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, HE Sisiku Ayuk Julius Tabe and every Ambazonian arrested as a result of the resistance is release from detention.
President Biya has been addressing his troops via his kinsman Joseph Beti Assomo the Minister for Defense and praising them for the genocide currently going on in Southern Cameroons. The escalating tensions have been ongoing for over two years after Southern Cameroons declared its independence on October 1 two years ago to end decades of marginalization and economic apartheid.
The leadership of the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia pointed out that a lot of the issues were neglected and left unresolved in the 1961 Foumban Conference. Those critical issues include the maintaining of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and its system of education including the Common Law in British Southern Cameroons, a federal system of governance and sharing of the nation’s revenues.
An EU diplomat was heard murmuring privately in Yaoundé that President Biya is doing things that defy rationality. A senior adviser to the Acting President of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia told Cameroon Intelligence Report that the two Cameroons will always need each other, but right now Biya has made things look like two people with their hands locked around each others’ throats.
French Cameroun military has employed massive firepower in strategic border points in Otu, Eyumojock, Tinta, Dadi and Ekok in the Manyu County. Social media images also shows heavy damage inflicted by troops loyal to the Yaoundé regime on Southern Cameroons villages and towns.
French Cameroun under Biya stand to suffer as the crisis unfolds. The government treasury is nearly depleted and food and fuel are likely to be in short supply. More fighting could precipitate a humanitarian crisis. The Roman Catholic Bishops of Cameroon recently observed that if the conflict goes on there will be a lot of people killed.
The fighting has already displaced refugees to neighboring Nigeria-a nation that is ill-equipped to help them. The Francophone government agents such as governors and SDOs including DOs have also made it difficult and dangerous for aid organizations to provide help for internally displaced Ambazonians.
A full-scale war between the Cameroons would pose serious problems for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Francophone countries in the CEMAC region. It’s time for intensifying crisis diplomacy but the two countries with the most influence in the Sub Sahara region France and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are maintaining a kind of deliberate silence.
France has invested heavily in Cameroon’s oil industry, but without a proper end to this conflict between the Cameroons, that oil will soon stop flowing. France is also a longtime ally of French Cameroun’s Biya but has never worked to develop ties with Southern Cameroons leaders. There is indeed no military solution to the crisis in Southern Cameroons.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai