Cameroon-Commonwealth Relation - Standing By the Flag of Peace

Damaged building that was part of the torched district hospital in Kumba (file photo).

President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya yesterday, Dec. 19 offered an official lunch in honour of visiting C'wealth SG, Patricia Scotland.

Two events of serious diplomatic magnitude organised at the State House, marked the second day of the official visit to Cameroon by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.

Even though nothing really filtered out of the one-hour audience between the Head of State and the august visitor that preceded the official lunch offered by President Biya and wife, Chantal Biya, there was every evidence that the two dignitaries during the audience made a review of the relations between the Commonwealth and Cameroon since the latter joined the organisation in 1995.

This couldn't have been otherwise as translated by the declaration of Scotland in her speech during the lunch. "Cameroon is an important and precious member of the Commonwealth", she said, while at the same time appreciating the active participation of Cameroon in several conferences and other events organised by the Commonwealth.

The diplomatic significance of yesterday's ceremony which started at 12 noon with the audience and ended three hours later after an almost two-hour lunch was very much in the convergence of views between Patricia Scotland Q.C. and President Biya. The two dignitaries irked at the unfortunate unrest that has for one year in continuum, rocked the South West and North West Regions of Cameroon.

The two agreed that Cameroon has for long been a haven of peace but regretted that this peaceful existence is being thwarted, beginning with the Boko Haram insurgency and followed by the Anglophone crisis.

That notwithstanding, there was a sign that the two personalities are all determined to bring back peace in the country and to do this, President Biya in his speech said, as guarantor of the constitution and of national unity, it is his duty to restore order and bring to book those guilty of the various assassinations of members of the forces of law and order.

The President was particularly appreciative of the contribution the Commonwealth has made to Cameroon in various sectors. He pointed out the democratic milestone covered by Cameroon since the country joined the Commonwealth and underscored the exceptional advantage in enhancing bilingualism and multiculturalism,

" I have always thought that bilingualism and multiculturalism form our country's special strengths, through which we are able to access two great cultures, and dialogue with multiple countries in their languages, especially in Africa", he said.

President Biya recalled the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis which has slowed down growth, leading the country to conclude with the IMF a programme under the "Extended Credit Facility" with the hope of returning to strong growth and avoiding austerity measures. Patricia Scotland Q.C., on her part, expressed the determination of her organisation to see that peace is maintained in Cameroon. In this light, she encouraged Cameroonians to embrace peace, unity and practice dialogue.

Peace building she said is essential for growth. She recalled the Commonwealth spirit of learning from each other and underscored the need to cultivate the state of law, a factor seriously valued by the Commonwealth as manifested by the creation of institutions to handle issues related to criminality and justice.

The Commonwealth top brass was particularly appreciative of Cameroon's effort at stepping up the participation of women in politics and pointed out the responsibility to provide young people with skills which are a factor of employment.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General left the Unity Palace after having been decorated with the medal of Grand Officer of the Order of Valor, the highest distinction that is often awarded to a foreign dignitary. The Unity Palace meeting was equally marked by exchange of gifts from both parties.

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