Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis Update
Published: 11 Feb 2021
Heightened tension between Francophones and Anglophones has led to multiple clashes that have transgressed into atrocities in Cameroon. Initiatives by the Cameroonian government to resolve the Anglophone crisis appear to be futile. With this blog, we intend to raise more awareness about the atrocities occurring in Cameroon. As such, we appeal to the international community to intervene peacefully and to take on appropriate humanitarian and diplomatic means to prevent the continuity of atrocities in Cameroon by triggering and reflecting on the Responsibility to Protect commitment (R2P) as a benchmark to preventing the continuity of atrocities in Cameroon. The R2P commitment pertains principles which are also well entrenched in African Union (AU) normative frameworks and key program areas; most notably under the AU Constitutive Act, the Peace and Security Protocol and article 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which gives the African Commission a mandate to respond serious and massive violations. This intervention should be peaceful and aim at triggering “all authorities and international actors” to “respect and ensure respect for their obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian law” (R2P Principle 5).
The current conflict in Cameroon has been ranging since 2017 with civilians caught in the crossfire between Separatists commonly referred to as Ambazonians, Cameroonian soldiers and other militias. The conflict began as a fight for self-determination by Anglophone Cameroon claiming political, economic, and social marginalisation from the dominant Francophone region. These claims were met with violent repression which led to the uprising that has cost many lives. The conflict has been further complicated by retaliatory actions, deeply divided objectives, partisan claims and new militia groups arising in the affray.
The disputed 2018 presidential elections exacerbated the Anglophone crisis which led to increased insurgency in Anglophone Cameroon. Maurice Kamto the Anglophone presidential aspirant then lost to President Paul Biya who showed no indication of wanting to relinquish power after 38 years in office. Tensions between the Biya and Kamto camps went on to threaten national stability that was already shaken by the separatist insurgency in the country’s Anglophone regions. The desire for fair integration and willingness to coexist with Francophones has now been replaced by the aspirations for autonomy by the Anglophones.
The demand for independence by the Anglophones is seen as a campaign for greater social, economic, political, and civil rights that the Francophones have undermined overtime. The narrative that frames Francophones as the main source of the catastrophe that is engulfing Cameroon is rather untrue, both Francophones and Anglophones should be held accountable for the atrocities that are occurring in Cameroon.
The continuous discrimination and marginalization of the Anglophones has fuelled and prolonged the crisis in several ways which has led to the continuity of atrocities in Cameroon. This has manifested in mostly political, economic and social aspects; for almost 60 years after independence Cameroon has never seen a minister of defence, finance, or territorial administration coming from the English speaking minority Cameroonians. This without doubt shouts unequal government representation. Anglophones have often raised concern about the unfair and discriminatory low fractions of Anglophones in major workforce like in oil sectors and in decision-making posts. From the social aspect French being the administration’s language of preference is something that the Anglophones claim is unfair to them. All this marginalization and discrimination tantamount to Anglophones being perceived and treated as mostly second-class citizen by the majority Francophones something which undermines their integrity and dignity. Centralization of power in Francophone Cameroon (Yaoundé) where all state services and decision-making bodies and Centre’s are situated makes access to government services and facilities so difficult for Anglophones which further worsens the feud between the two parties.
We hope to achieve this by means of collecting the material/ information emanating from an on-ground assessment and continuous monitoring, to push for the protection of Cameroonian lives and human rights. Ultimately, our efforts strive towards cessation to the massive and egregious violations ongoing in Anglophone Cameroon.