(Business in Cameroon) - During his inauguration speech, delivered at the National Assembly Palace on 6 November 2018, the re-elected Cameroonian Head of State, Paul Biya, issued an ultimatum to the separatists who have been carrying out violence in the northwest and southwest, the two Anglophone regions, for more than a year.
“To these war entrepreneurs, who are undermining our national unity and advocating secession, they must know that they will face not only the rigor of the law, but also the determination of our defense and security forces. I call on them to lay down their arms and get back on track. I appeal in particular to the young people who have been drawn into a one-time adventure,” said President Biya, for whom “there is no doubt that the fate of our compatriots in the northwest and southwest is part of our Republic”.
“I am deeply convinced that the overwhelming majority of our compatriots in the two regions concerned aspire to quickly restore peace within the national community. Unfortunately, many of them, due to the threat that secessionists continue to pose to that part of our country, were unable to exercise their right to vote in the recent presidential election and, therefore, to express their commitment to our national unity. I ask them not to lose hope and to give all possible support to the authorities' efforts to restore peace. They know better than anyone what their existence would be like under the yoke of extremists who have been bringing terror and desolation to their regions in recent months,” he added.
As a reminder, what is known in Cameroon as the Anglophone crisis was born out of corporate demands initiated in October 2016 by teachers and lawyers, who denounced the failure to take into account the specificities of Cameroon's two Anglophone regions, in the fields of education and positive law.
After unsuccessful negotiations by public authorities, and despite some government measures to meet the expectations of the protesters, the original corporatist demands would mutate into separatist demands a year later, with the sole requirement of splitting the country.
For more than a year now, known as Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), a part of the population of the two Anglophone regions has been taking up arms, carrying out targeted assassinations and kidnappings; this has led a huge majority of residents to abandon towns and villages to take refuge in Nigeria and other Cameroonian cities, in order to escape the fight between secessionists and the regular army.
Brice R. Mbodiam