Jan 2017

The hardening of positions observed in the crisis that is shaking the Northwest and South-Western Regions of our country dictates the present call for restraint, rejection of provocations and diversion, escalation of violence, putting in place of conditions for the establishment of trust before a peaceful and patriotic republican dialogue.

The Cameroon Renaissance Movement deeply regrets the failure of the laborious discussions painfully started between the Government and Anglophone leaders in the current crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions. This failure, that culminated on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017, in the ban of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) and the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), and the adoption by the spokesman of the Government of a warlike tone, dreads a rise in violence in these two regions of our country. Indeed, the new posture of the Government poses a real risk to peace and national unity.

On the other hand, the agitation of the spectre of secession does not create a climate conducive to dialogue. For reasons related to our national history that we must never forget, everyone knows that the secessionist option is simply unacceptable. The claim of federalism is presented in confusion with this idea of secession. I am convinced that a large majority of Anglophone and francophone Cameroonians who are silent  will not be in favour of a pure return of our country to the situation of 1961; A people, a nation, does not write its history backwards. Nevertheless, I think it is good, in an effervescent and evanescent context like the one that prevails at the moment, to agree that various options be on the dialogue table. We need to clarify problems and seek together, in a patriotic way and with respect for each other, appropriate solutions to resolve them in the long term. We must not forget the fact that on a question such as the form of the State, which is politically so sensitive for historical reasons peculiar to our country, the ultimate decision belongs to the Cameroonian people because such a decision can affect our living-together and our common future.

In an effort to resolve the crisis, the Government’s use of the anti-terrorist law as a consequence of the failure of negotiations with the protagonists of the Anglophone regions is inconsistent.

Indeed, doing that means that the people with whom the government has been officially discussing for several weeks are terrorists; It is also a confession of powerlessness, for such a posture shows that faced with the difficulty, the Government has chosen to forge ahead through the use of multiform violence. The CRM is concerned about this political instrumentalisation of the anti-terrorist law against which it had stood firmly and warned the Cameroonian people as soon as it was adopted in 2015; For it had clearly seen that behind this famous law  was concealed a desire to make use of it in order to control society. Those who doubted it now have proof of this.

As far as the Anglophone problem is concerned, the CRM is the first and, indeed, the only political organization in the country to have identified it and recognized it as such: it had included it in its political plan right from its launch in August 2012 and made it clear that this problem could only be solved through a republican dialogue. This question, which the CPDM and the Government have so far not officially acknowledged is a genuine political problem because of the fact that it affects our  living-together in this country.

At its meeting on June 25th 2016 in Bamenda, our party reaffirmed the existence of this problem and reiterated the path of dialogue, stressing the importance of its resolution for the establishment of a national sentiment shared by all, and for national unity and concord. This exhortation was reiterated at our meeting held in N’Gaoundéré on December 10th 2016, when the crisis began to take a disturbing turn. Unfortunately, we were not heard.

The deep political crisis in the South West and Northwest Regions shows how serious is the distrust between the Anglophone elites of the CPDM who are present at all levels of government, elective positions as ministerial and administrative posts, and the populations of these two regions.

The many people killed or injured by law enforcement officials, including the scandalous provocation of the CPDM of 8 December 2016 in Bamenda, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of students and other young people pulled from their homes, mainly in Buea, and the lack of results in the investigation ordered as a consequence of these acts unworthy of our country have ruined any trust between the Government and the new legitimate leaders of  populations of the two Anglophone Regions.

It is in view of this situation, which was not conducive to constructive dialogue, that I gave the position of the CRM during our meeting on 10 December 2016 in N’Gaoundéré.

After having strongly emphasized that secession cannot be the solution to the Anglophone problem, I proposed to the Government the establishment of a group of personalities from different political backgrounds, traditional authorities, religious leaders and the civil society, constituted in a Delegation.

The Delegation’s mission would be to visit the Anglophone regions of the country to try to calm the situation and prepare the ground for a republican dialogue which the Head of State should organize the framework. In short, this is a two-step process. First, the time of appeasement by a gesture that is both political and symbolic, in keeping with our traditions, which will restore confidence, because it will have to include a number of de-escalation measures that will help cool down the prevailing climate. Then, the time for dialogue, calling on the patriotism and the high sense of responsibilities of the parties involved in the necessary republican discussions. I emphasize that in order to be productive, dialogue in such a context must be preceded by genuine confidence-building measures.

I reiterate this proposal to the Government, especially since there is no alternative to dialogue in this serious political crisis. In this connection, I hereby point out to the Government and the Anglophone representatives in this crisis, that I am available to serve the Nation and its Unity, which have dictated their wise and patriotic choice to the fathers of Reunification.

In the search for a solution to this situation, which could jeopardize national unity, the President of the Republic must not give in to the warlike people of his political camp, in particular to certain discredited francophone politicians and the Anglophone elites of the CPDM publicly rejected, who are pondering on their failure and dream of revenge on the populations and their new legitimate leaders.

The political and security situation in both regions is worrying. Their militarization and the arrests of those with whom the Government had been discussing would not solve the crisis.

For their part, the leaders of the populations of the two Anglophone regions must firmly condemn violent abuses against people and attacks on property, whether public or private. It is unbearable, and therefore unacceptable, to see a pupil beaten for having dared to go to school, students chased from classrooms by uncontrollable individuals.

The urgency of finding a political solution relevant to the crisis leaves no room for the grandiloquent “time of the president” nor for the damaging “presidential silence”. The President of the Republic, whose role is central to resolving this serious crisis because of his constitutional powers, must not forget the fact that the absence of the Regions for 20 years, in particular of Regional Councils provided for by the Constitution of 18 January 1996, is undoubtedly one of the major causes of the sudden resurgence of this Anglophone problem. In fact, the regionalism introduced in the 1996 Constitution was a sort of compromise between the then prevailing opinions on the form of the State.

The CRM calls on the Government, security forces, the people of the north-west and south-west and their new legitimate leaders to reject provocations and violent excesses; the high sense of responsibility and the sense of patriotism present, I am convinced, in brothers and sisters of blood and equal citizens in the Republic, within which each component of the nation must find its full place. Enough bloodshed! Enough tears in our Common House! We have a single homeland that is dear to all of us. Legitimate anger and arrogant mistakes must not destroy it. There is nothing that we cannot agree on between Cameroonians!

Maurice KAMTO,
National President
19 January 2017