Press Conference - Crisis in the Anglophone regions: The disconcerting wait and see attitude of the international community



Crisis in the Anglophone regions: The disconcerting wait and see attitude of the international community

Ladies and gentlemen,

For about five months, the Northwest and Southwestern Regions of Cameroon have been experiencing a crisis that has grown steadily and has reached an unprecedented level of severity since the reunification of our country in 1961. From the corporatist demands of the lawyers and the English-speaking teachers' union at the outset, it became a deep political crisis due to poor government handling and exacerbation of the frustrations of anglophone Cameroonians. Because they feel uncomfortable in the Nation, for many reasons, many of our compatriots in the regions in question are asking for a return to federalism in its 1961 form.

The CRM has said and reiterated that claiming a particular form of state, in this case federalism, is not a crime. Nothing prohibits us, as a nation, from speaking frankly, in a sincere and constructive dialogue, where it would also be possible to convince one another of why regionalism provided for by the current Constitution is preferred. But one cannot immediately create additional frustrations by throwing the anathema on all those who pronounce the word "federalism", in the name of the indivisibility of the Republic. This is a bad argument because the state can be indivisible even in the federal form. Suffice it to recall that section 2 of the Fundamental Law of Spain - a State which practices regionalism where the autonomy of  regions is more advanced than that of many federated states within the framework of a Federation - (section 2 I said) states: "The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards, and recognizes and guarantees the right to autonomy of nationalities and Regions that integrate it and solidarity between them ". We should therefore avoid the fetichism of words, both for those who claim federalism and for those who do not want to hear about it. Words mean and will always mean what we want them to express, and the term region can mean as much and sometimes more than the term federalism.

The Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) is the only party to have proposed a concrete and practical solution to emerge from the current crisis. Our deep commitment to the unity of our country inspires our efforts to contribute to the rapid solution to this crisis. The unity of a country will not be achieved by arms, but by the mutual support of all for the national project. It is the task of all, political actors, civil society, and mainly the Government to create the necessary conditions and training for this membership. Listening to federalist demands does not necessarily mean adhering to it; in a society in search of its democratic foundations, it is a matter of hearing those who say they have a problem, of exchanging arguments to persuade the interlocutors of the merits, in the best interest of the nation, of the state model that is defended.

In the violent repression that struck the anglophone population, nothing was spared them: cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of young female students from the slums that serve them as a university housing, forced to roll in the mud and drink dirty water; Rape of girls; The assassination of several young protesters by the security forces; questioning or massive arrests of current legitimate leaders and numerous anglophone elites, including an Advocate-General at the Supreme Court, the highest anglophone magistrate and several lawyers; summons and questioning of a former President of the Cameroon Bar Association . Due to the permanent insecurity in which they now live, these anglophone elites are currently on the alert; some of them are forced into exile.

Each of these acts constitutes a serious violation of the human rights contained in international legal instruments to which Cameroon is a party.

The international community has remained strangely silent since the onset of this deadly crisis, which is jeopardizing the educational future of young Cameroonians in the anglophone regions, and worsens living conditions of already impoverished populations. The United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa have not been heard, not even the Center for Democracy and Human Rights of Yaoundé which is non-existent. No commission of inquiry, no press release on the events.

The Security Council has chosen not to address the situation on the grounds that it is not capable of undermining international security and that the situation would in any case be under the control of the Government. It would therefore have been necessary for an armed insurrection reaching neighbouring countries through floods of refugees, to have more deaths for the Security Council to be able to express itself at least through a statement by its president. But  the fact that this crisis is not internationalized is a proof that our anglophone compatriots are not engaged in an armed conflict and that for that very reason they are entitled to effective protection of the Government or, if not, of the international community? There is no difference between Cameroonians killed by Boko Haram and those who fall under the bullets of national security forces; Except that the pain is even more acute in the second case, because victims are killed, by order of the State, by security forces whose mission is to protect them.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for its part, believes that this crisis and its curious handling by the government - which has preferred to deprive the anglophone regions of Internet for more than two months instead of seeking adequate answers to their demands - are not cause for concern because they will not affect growth forecasts.

Bilateral diplomatic missions look elsewhere and work around the interests of their countries in Cameroon. It is their right to ignore the suffering of the populations of two entire Regions of Cameroon; but let them spare us the hypocrisy of their fiery statements about their willingness to work for the well-being of Cameroonians and the future of our country.

The international community is at the root of the problem in which Cameroon is now embroiled. We have not asked to be divided between Anglophones and Francophones, it is the result of the appetites of territorial conquests of the world powers; It is this international community that has watched, without flinching, the false plebiscite of 1961, which amputated our country of its northern part. She dares to say today that nothing happens in the Northwest and South West Regions.

The cry of our anglophone compatriots, whom we try to stifle, shamelessly, comes from the depths of our history: it is the cry of Douala Manga Bell and Ngosso Din protesting against the monopolization of land by the Protecting  German Power, a cry relayed by Martin Paul Samba; The cry of Ruben Oum Nyobe, Felix Moumie, Ossende Afana, Ernest Ouandie and many of their comrades, murdered because they asked for national independence and immediate reunification; The same cry screamed since 1990 by the many victims of the struggle for democracy; The shouting cry of the young people who were massacred in February 2008 because they opposed the abolition of the limitation of the presidential mandate set by the Constitution and in 2017 because they pronounced the word "federalism".

These sacrifices will not be in vain, as those who only display indifference and cynicism to the sufferings of their own countrymen, might think. More people will be killed again, with deployed weapons or slowly, taking advantage of time. It will take the time it will take, but the people of Cameroon will triumph.

The international community seems to have already forgotten the tragedies of Rwanda and the Balkans, which led it to adopt the document on Responsibility to Protect, supported by Security Council resolution 1674 (2006), at the 2005 World Summit. As it is known, this principle applies to "specified crimes and violations", and its implementation is not only a matter of the use of force, as was the case in Libya in 2010; it includes an aspect of "preventive deployment" whose purpose is to help in various ways to alleviate suffering and limit violence. How many deaths and what level of violence is needed to implement this preventive dimension of the responsibility to protect?

The fate of our anglophone compatriots does not move the international community; it is even not the fate of the entire Cameroonian people that will move them tomorrow. If not, why has this international community never been interested in the causes of the obvious failure of biometrics in electoral matters in Cameroon, when it had assured the worried opposition that with biometrics and technical equipment from Germany, there would be no more electoral fraud, including multiple votes in Cameroon? How can it be explained that the European Union, which declared that it had made available to the Government of Cameroon funding for the smooth running of this operation, did not ensure its success? Why is Cameroon one of the few countries that don't have a complete biometric system for elections?

The international community should no longer distract Cameroonians with useless meetings and trainings; the international community   should no longer send Cameroonians to sleep with electoral observers who have never helped to establish electoral truth and whose conclusions are known in advance because they are always the same: Elections were generally satisfactory, "we are told each time. Let this community allow the people of Cameroon to focus on its fate, since they know that they have to rely only on themselves; because, we understand: Cameroonians can die, it will always be the right time for some to make juicy business: Business as usual!

Cameroonians must remain vigilant. Indeed, the method applied by the Government to the handling of the Anglophone crisis - repression of extreme violence, massive arrests and arbitrary detention of those considered leaders of protest, militarization of the areas of protest, the blatant use of a so-called anti-terrorist law against unarmed citizens - is a trial, a general rehearsal of what will be implemented in 2018 or before, if elections or electoral issues led to protests in our country. And the famous international community will remain silent; as it remained silent after the constitutional manoeuvre, the cut of the Internet, state violence and arrests in Congo, after the flagrant violation of the Constitution followed by political massacres in Burundi, after the electoral manipulations and political assassinations in Gabon, after violation, the forced slippage of the electoral calendar and political massacres in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since my departure from the Government and my membership, for the first time in my life, of a political party, the CRM, there is at the heart of the power a Black Cabinet that works with determination to be put me out of political competition by all means. I say by all means! This Black Cabinet has long searched, but in vain, in my management of public affairs. It embarked on a scandalous affair on my scientific reputation; has mounted and maintained in public opinion a smoky public procurement case worth 14 billion CFA francs.

Now, it is because, from its inception in 2012, the CRM indicated that the anglophone problem is one of the urgent political problems to be solved, for an appeased Republic; That the peaceful resolution of this problem is a political test to our living-together in our country; That the CRM is committed to resolve it through dialogue, if voted to power by Cameroonians, (it is now, I said, for these reasons) that this Black Cabinet is tempted to deprive me of the possibility, if  granted to me by my comrades of the party, to go and meet Cameroonians on the occasion of the crucial elections to come.

Indeed, on the basis of advice that I have provided to the Government in public, by means providing records, for the purpose of seeking constructive political dialogue with the compatriots of the anglophone Regions, my activities as a lawyer for the new anglophone leaders- and not the secessionists with whom the CRM and I have never discussed - the experts of this Black Cabinet, who fear  democratic change in our country, are now working  to have me arrested and charged - for terrorist activities.

By these methods, members of this Black Cabinet do not show great democratic courage. Indeed, frightened by the social and economic disaster of their inconsistent management of power, which has led the country to unprecedented pauperization and disorder, they fear democratic debate based on political ideas and manifestos in the course of which they will face Cameroonians. This economic failure, reflected in the disastrous management of public finances demonstrated by the return of Cameroon to the IMF, should not push them to put the country in jeopardy.
 
They must know now that in order to defend my people, the future of the children of this country that they have patiently compromised, and for the memory of all patriotic nationalists killed in the struggle for independence, the struggle for freedom under the iron regime of President Ahidjo, the struggle for the return of political pluralism and the establishment of democracy in our country in the 1990s, during the popular revolts of February 2008 against the revision in the blood of the constitution, and more recently the claims of my compatriots in the anglophone regions, I am ready to face their obscure plans!

To all Cameroonians, I repeat my message of confidence: Register massively on the electoral rolls, collect your voter cards and vote massively in the upcoming elections to have a say by and at the polls. In this way, we can work so that the misfortunes and sorrows of our country cannot be prolonged indefinitely.

To the international community in its guilty indifference, it must be remembered that our land is a land of struggle and resilience, and that even if left to itself, the Cameroonian people will survive. But, he will not forget!

Maurice KAMTO,
CRM National President,
April 03, 2017

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