Three and a half months after meetings that took place between Cameroon’s government officials and representatives of leaders from the troubled Anglophone regions, in Cameroon, the Archbishop of Bamenda says there are signs hope for peace.
In July, this year, Cameroon’s Government officials met some of the foremost leaders of the Anglophone separatist groups for the first time since the conflict began in 2017.
In particular the meeting with Julius Ayuk Tabe, a separatist leader currently serving a life sentence in prison on terrorist charges, discussed the possibility of a ceasefire that is yet to be seen concretely.
Signs of hope in Bamenda
Notwithstanding recent clashes here and there and the most recent atrocity in the city of Kumba, the Archbishop of Bamenda, Andrew Nkea Fuanya, says that after the talks the situation in Bamenda and some Anglophone regions seem calmer. Bamenda in the northwestern part of Cameroon is the regional capital of the Northwest Region. Kumba in the Southwest of Cameroon is one of the two crisis-hit Anglophone regions.
“There is an atmosphere of greater peace among the population schools have reopened, and many children have returned to class,” the Archbishop told Agenzia Fides.
No official news of recent or scheduled peace meetings
“From the point of view of the official negotiations, no progress has been made and at least officially we have no news of recent or scheduled meetings.” The Archbisop added, “I think something is happening in secret. For our part, we are doing everything we can to reactivate the dialogue and keep it open at all times in order to find a solution to the conflict as quickly as possible. At the end of September, at the end of the 69th meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, we Bishops of the English-speaking regions wrote a public statement. In the letter, we made several requests to the government and the faithful that received much media coverage. Unfortunately, we have not yet received any indication of a response from the government,” said Archbishop Nkea.
Bamenda Province Bishops urge government to dialogue
In particular, Archbishop Nkea said the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province have called for the immediate cessation of all forms of armed conflict, the resumption of dialogue, the release of political prisoners as an act of relaxation and the reopening of all schools.
Cameroon’s linguistic divide
Over 3 000 people have died in the conflict so far, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Some are refugees in neighbouring countries.
Fighting in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon started in 2017 as a result of a government clampdown on peaceful strike action and protests by lawyers and teachers. The professionals complained of marginalisation and unjustified appointment by the French-speaking majority at the expense of professionals in the English speaking areas.
Cameroon’s linguistic divide is a colonial relic that stems from World War I when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and the British victors.