Cameroonian President Paul Biya recently called for national dialogue to end the country’s anglophone crisis as a “non-starter”, but the separatist leader of Cameroon’s English-speaking community dismissed the call on Thursday.
The president made the announcement on Tuesday, he said this was aimed at solving the conflict between security forces and armed separatists from the anglophone minority in the west.
Lawyers of the separatist leader Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe said Tabe believes the speech was a non-event and a non-starter.
Tabe is the first self-proclaimed president of “Ambazonia”, a breakaway state declared in October 2017 in two English-speaking regions of the central African country. He was sentenced to life in prison in August along with nine of his supporters.
English-speaking separatists have been demanding independence in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon and as a result the francophone-majority country has been plunged by unrest where more than 2,000 people have died.
According to the Human Rights Watch group, more than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result of the unrest.
Respondign toBiya’s call for dialogue, Tabe said the initiative is “an awkward and grudging attempt timed to avoid UN sanctions, considering that the UN will be deliberating on the anglophone crisis this September and Biya and his regime has been amply put on notice.”
He added that “President Biya unilaterally declared the ongoing war in the Northwest and Southwest regions. He must unilaterally declare an end to the war that he declared.”
The UN has said that its Secretary General Antonio Guterres “welcomes the announcement” by Biya and “reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support the dialogue process.”
But many commentators said that if Biya’s overture is genuine, it will have little chance of headway as long as separatist leaders remain behind bars or in exile.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.