Cameroon: Magnifying President Biya's Peace Efforts Within

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

Setting up a humanitarian assistance plan, creating the disarmament committee, peaceful resolution of Bakassi conflict, politics of appeasement... speak volumes of a peace crusader.

Cameroon's Head of State, Paul Biya, as portrayed by the recent edition of a bilingual magazine "Hommage à la République", is a peace advocate par excellence. The publication in its special edition captioned, "100 Actions of President Paul Biya in Favour of Peace," among others details what the country's Chief Executive has been doing to iron out differences among his fellow compatriots. Even where and when conflict strikes, the publication observes President Biya has always been with his people not only to cushion the effects of whatever crisis but as well to make conditions favourable for better living together; cultural and linguistic differences notwithstanding.

Setting Up the Humanitarian Assistance Plan

The Humanitarian Assistance Plan is government's structured platform to address urgent and essential needs of the populations of the North West and South West Regions living under security threats or forced by insecurity to abandon the comfort of their homes and their activities. It was set up against a backdrop of socio-political crisis in the two restive dominantly English-speaking regions. This is thus a framework through which Cameroonians and friends of the country have been showing their hospitality and great spirit of solidarity to their compatriots in distress. The FCFA 12,716,500,000 plan (financed from the State budget, calls for national and international solidarity as well as assistance from development partners), complements multidimensional efforts of Defence and Security Forces who have been carrying out civil-military actions for the benefit of the affected populations. These include notably the construction of drinking water points, the administration of basic health care, the supply of school equipment and the distribution of essential items among others.

Even away from the magazine, there is also the Presidential Plan for the Reconstruction and Development of the North West and South West Regions which is already holding consultation meetings on the field to seek ways of living up to expectation. First evaluation indicates that some 350 schools, 115 health Centers, 40 bridges, 400 water points, 500 km of low tension powerlines, 600km of rural roads, 45 markets, 12,000 private houses were destroyed and about 300,000 personal documents lost. Efforts are on to repair the damages.

According to "Hommage à la République", all these have given hope to many citizens.

Disarming, Reintegrating Erring Citizens

The Head of State's decision on November 30, 2018 to set up a National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee for ex-fighters of Boko Haram and armed groups in the North West and South West Regions, the magazine notes, has and will continue to have wide-ranging effects on peaceful cohabitation. More so because, Boko Haram insurgency in the northern regions and separatist actions by armed groups in the North West and South West Regions have one thing in common - destabilising the once haven of peace - Cameroon. Many observers saw any leader opting solely for a stick in the face of the crisis looking at the prejudice the insecurity perpetrated by both groups have caused the country both in terms of social peace and the economy. Mr Biya's decision portrays a 'Carrot and Stick' leader who has persistently refused to throw away the baby with the bath water.

The National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee (NDDRC) has started resettling the ex-fighters into normal life.

Politics of Appeasement

The migration from Cameroon National Union to Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) on 24 March 1985 in Bamenda, is looked upon by "Hommage à la République" as giving new impetus to the political life of the country. More so as the initiator, Paul Biya, is quoted to have said in his speech during the Congress that it was no longer necessary for people to go into hiding to make their opinions heard. It was therefore the start of freedom of speech and association which paid off with liberty laws a few years thereafter.

The coming into play of multiparty politics in 1990 with the birth of the Social Democratic Front and the eventful historic Paul Biya-Fru Ndi meeting in Bamenda on December 10, 2010 is seen in many circles as fruits of politics of appeasement preached over the years by the Cameroonian leader. Thanks to the Bamenda 'handshakes', "Hommage à la République" says fruits have been visible notably in the reform on the composition of members of ELECAM, the physical presence of Chairman Fru Ndi in important ceremonies of national life and general appeasement in the political life of the nation.

Amicably Resolving Bakassi Conflict

The ruling of the International Court of Justice in 2002 in favour of Cameroon on the Bakassi conflict with neighbouring Nigeria was the start of a happy denouement for a long-drawn unhealthy relationship. It is on record that following intensive diplomatic activities culminating in the 12 June 2006 Green-tree Agreement initiated by the United Nations and observed by four world powers - Britain, France, Germany and the United States - Nigeria finally agreed to unreservedly hand over the oil-rich Peninsula to Cameroon. On 14 August 2006, Nigeria pulled out its military and the Cameroonian flag was hoisted. Two years later (14 August 2008), the remaining Nigerian administration and police left the Peninsula now wholly a Cameroonian occupied territory with diverse development projects ongoing. Respecting the ruling of the ICT wasn't an easy task but "Hommage à la République" notes in Action Eight of its "100 Actions of President Paul Biya in Favour of Peace," that the Cameroonian leader initiated a dialogue with his Nigerian counterpart to seek was of respecting the Court Ruling.

The Presidential gesture, the bilingual magazine notes, was legendary in averting a war whose consequences would have been far-reaching not only on the peoples of the two countries but equally on their socio-economic lives in the short, medium and long terms. An example of pacific conflict resolution which today stands out among others in the world.

Major National Dialogue

From the onset of crisis in the North West and South West Region, President Paul Biya had always opted for dialogue. For example, he said on December 31, 2017 that, "I should make it very clear that, to my mind, dialogue has always been and will always remain the best means of resolving problems, so long as it is strictly in line with republican legality."

President Paul Biya first ordered the setting up of two inter-ministerial ad hoc committees: One to look into Teachers' concerns and the other into that of Common Law Lawyers. All were to at term propose lasting solutions to harness the sectors for the good of all. Then came the Major National Dialogue from September 30 to October 4, 2019. It brought together sons and daughters of Cameroon from within and without the country, to chart a new path for the country. Implementation of the recommendations is ongoing. The magazine notes that thanks to the dialogue, life is gradually returning to normalcy in the two restive regions.

More From: Cameroon Tribune

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