Cameroun Pro-Independence Leaders welcome the call for the need for an internationally mediated negotiation on the root causes of the conflict in Cameroon by the US Senate Resolution 684.
The leader of the Pro-Independence government, Sissiku Julius Ayuktabe who is currently serving a life sentence with 10 of his closest collaborators and thousands of other Pro-independence activists in overpopulated, unsanitary, and inhumane prisons in Cameroon expressed a sigh of relief and welcomes the move by the US Senate.
Speaking through a confidential source from his prison cell in Yaounde, the Pro-Independence leader reiterated and reaffirmed his commitment and call for an internationally supervised negotiation for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Sissiku Julius Ayuktabe and 10 of his collaborators were abducted at the NERA Hotel in Nigeria and refouled to Cameroon in 2018 where they are currently serving life sentences and hefty fines slammed on them by a military tribunal in Cameroun.
In a suit filed in a Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria the court denounced the arrests and refoulement as illegal and unconstitutional and the judge ruled that the Nigerian Federal Government did not follow due process therefore violated their status of Refugees and human rights. He ordered their immediate release and return to Nigeria and paid compensatory damages.
In a rare sign of Bipartisanship, Members of the US Senate passed RES. 684 which “calls on the Government of Cameroun and armed separatists’ groups from the Northwest and Southwest regions to end all violence, respect human rights of all Cameroonians, and pursue a genuinely inclusive dialogue towards resolving the ongoing civil conflict in Anglophone Cameroon”.
Unlike other resolutions passed by the 116th US Congress during the conflict, RES. 684 goes far beyond just condemning the violence and human rights violations. The Senate resolution clearly empowers the US State Department to work in concertation with other relevant agencies to take targeted actions against the Cameroun government officials and leaders of Armed groups involved in perpetrating the violence. The resolution also summons the international community to collectively work together in taking decisive and stringent actions against the Cameroon government and Armed groups to force both parties to the proverbial negotiating table.
RES. 684 which passed on January 1st, 2021, barely a day after the long serving president of Cameroon, Mr. Paul Biya claimed during his widely ridiculed half-baked end of year speech to the nation that the situation of the conflict in Southern Cameroons was improving and under control. Mr. Biya listed a litany of measures and actions that have been taken like the holding of the Grand National Dialogue, The Special Status for the two regions, and the recently boycotted Regional Elections as heading towards the right direction in resolving the conflict.
However, in a stinging rebuke the US RES. 684 in calling for a genuinely inclusive dialogue towards the resolution of the ongoing conflict clearly undermines the much-heralded Grand National Dialogue by the Cameroonian government and the French government as insufficient, not genuine, and not inclusive to address the conflict. The move to empower the US State Department to begin targeted actions also sends a powerful signal and announced to political observers and hardliners in Yaounde who have mocked previous resolutions of the US Congress as toothless that the US is going to focus and bring global attention to this crisis. This RES. 684 signals the US intent to get involve and provide a leadership role to bring an end to a crisis that has been neglected by the International Community.
The conflict in Cameroun has escaped the consciousness and treated as an afterthought by the international community. The Norwegian Refugee Council recently underlined the conflict as the “most neglected” in the world and violence perpetrated mostly by the Cameroun Military has killed over 20,000 people, displaced more than 1.5 million internally, and more than 100,000 are in squalid living conditions in refugee camps in Nigeria.
The Violence is also spiraling out of control and 2020 witnessed the most barbaric acts of violence directed at innocent children in Ngarbuh and the massacre of school children in Kumba. The enormity of the Humanitarian crisis within Ambazonia and the dire condition of the refugees and IDPs is alarming.
The International community through the leadership of United States should recognize the misery and the catastrophic impact of this war and treat its resolution with the urgency of now to avert an impending humanitarian crisis in the Gulf of Guinea. Unverified and disturbing reports of abuse and criminal activities like child labor, underage prostitution, child trafficking and organ trafficking rings within some of these refugee camps is a cause for concern.
The United States government has a pivotal and critical role to play in bringing a quick resolution to this crisis through an internationally supervised negotiation because it is an open secret that most of the Pro-Independent leaders and activists live in the US under the watchful eyes of the US government and these leaders and activists have demonstrated their willingness and readiness to engage in a genuinely inclusive dialogue under international supervision with the government of Cameroun. To quote one of the leaders “We are ready and waiting for the government of Cameroun and the international community for a negotiated settlement of this crisis.
Tabenyang Etchu-is a member of the Pro-Independent Leadership Government.