Cameroon religious leaders seek to end secession crisis
Christian and Muslim leaders have said they are ready to mediate between the government and the secessionists
Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Cameroon have announced an anglophone general conference that will seek a solution to the secessionist crisis that has split the North West and South West regions of the country.
Religious leaders involved include the retired archbishop of Douala, Cardinal Christian Tumi, Pastor Babila George Fochang from the Presbyterian Church of the Cameroon, Imam Tukur Mohammed Adamu from the central mosque in Bamenda and the chief imam, Alhadji Mohammed Aboubakar from the central mosque in Buea.
The religious leaders are calling a general conference for the anglophone community both in Cameroon and from the diaspora to be held in the south-western city of Buea on Aug. 29-30.
The current crisis began in 2016 after claims from English-speaking lawyers and teachers that they had been marginalized within the predominantly francophone legislative and educational system.
Their protests led to strikes and eventually degenerated into deadly confrontations between Cameroon security forces and supporters of the secession movement in the English-speaking North West and South West regions.
Daily confrontations are continuing between Cameroon security forces, who have been deployed in large numbers, and armed groups, who characterize themselves as the “restoration force” for an English-speaking state, which previously existed between the two world wars when the region was under British mandate.
Christian and Muslim leaders have said they are ready to mediate between the government and the secessionists.
“The moment has come to put an end to this conflict through a frank, inclusive and complete national dialogue on the anglophone issue,” the religious leaders said in their statement, deploring the damage caused by the conflict over the past two years.
Arms cannot lead to peace, the leaders argued, adding that they are “open to any proposals for promoting a return to peace” in the conflict zones.
However, members of the Cameroon governing party, the Democratic Assembly of the Cameroon People (RDPC) have not all welcomed the proposal.
“This initiative has emerged in the context of the presidential election slated for Oct. 7,” said Jean Simon Ongola, an RDPC parliamentarian in an article published in the Cameroon daily, Le jour.
“While the stated objectives of the conference are praiseworthy and desired by all Cameroon citizens, the political maneuvering and hidden agenda that flow from it share a common thread,” Ongola wrote.
Nevertheless, civil society organizations and several observers have welcomed the religious leaders’ initiative.
Several weeks ago, a report by the International Crisis Group concluded that “given the opposition of Yaoundé to any international mediation, the Catholic Church is virtually the only actor capable of intervening and promoting dialogue between the government and the anglophone regions.”
Moreover, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon has already offered its services for mediation and called for dialogue.
Source : la-croix