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The judgment of the Nigeria Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1, 2019, declaring illegal and unconstitutional, the abduction and deportation to Cameroun of the President of the Interim Government of the Southern Cameroons/
Ambazonia Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, members of the Interim Government and several Southern Cameroons refugees carries significant symbolic weight.
The judgment has comprehensively determined the legal status of the abductees which was in controversy since Cameroun characterized them as terrorists on the account of alleged crimes committed against Cameroun from the territory of Nigeria; so, the Isa Tchiroma and the Court-martial alleged.

The Federal High Court of Abuja Nigeria on the territory of which the crimes alleged in the court-martial were allegedly committed has decided that they are persons who were legally in the territory of Nigeria as refugees under the protection of international conventional law at the time of their abduction and deportation. They were not therefore terrorists nor did their presence and activities constitute terrorism to warrant their being characterized as terrorists to warrant abduction and deportation to face a court-martial. Even if they were terrorists, international law still outlawed the abduction and deportation without compliance with the municipal and international rule of law.

This judicial determination settles a key issue in the subsequent case brought against the victims by Cameroun, the state to which they were deported. The failure of the court-martial in Cameroun where the abductees are forcefully subjected over their objections, to take judicial notice of the Judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court will have bilateral relations and multilateral treaty obligations consequences on the two countries, in the short and long term. Nigeria and Cameroun are state parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and its Additional Protocol 1967. Both countries are state parties to the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa which came into force in 1974.

The refugee problem globally and in Africa is a matter of significant international emergency, if not a humanitarian crisis. Without the existing multilateral treaty regime to manage this humanitarian crisis, millions, of the world’s vulnerable refugee population will be pursued across international boundaries and slaughtered by the murderous regimes and criminal squads from whom they fled in the search for protection. International law mandates state parties to the Refugee Convention to open their frontiers to allow refugees fleeing from wars, genocide, crimes against humanity and other life-threatenin
g conditions to their lives to provide them protection.

International law outlaws the abduction, deportation, rendition or the refoulement of persons who have sought refugee status to the countries from which they fled. Once the status of refugees is sought or obtained, the person concerned becomes a ward of international law under the Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol. State Parties to the Refugee Convention are mandated to ensure compliance and indeed are obligated to submit periodic reports on compliance with their treaty obligations under the convention. Nigeria and Cameroun had a multilateral obligation to ensure that the refugee status of the abductees in Nigeria was respected and protected. Their mandate and responsibility are to the international community, since the 1951 Refugee Convention has near world wide membership.

By engaging in criminal conduct to abduct and deport the victims to face a court-martial that applies the death penalty to Cameroun, Nigeria and Cameroun betrayed, violated and endangered the multilateral treaty regime and a protected international human rights value system.
The Federal High Court Judgment provided an opportunity to Nigeria to explain to the world, the rationale and legality of the abductions.

It is significant that Nigeria did not convince the court that the abduction and deportation was informed by any compellable reasons justifiable in municipal and/or international law. Nigeria did not convince the court of any legally justified reason to violate with impunity the Nigeria Federal Constitution (1969), its multilateral treaty obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol, the African Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Rome Statute. There is no compelling reason to explain why Nigeria mortgaged its reputation, its influence in Africa and its claims to lead and represent Africa as a world power at the UN Security Council to fulfil the dictatorial and criminal proclivities of a regime baying for the blood of millions of Southern Cameroonians. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have been deported by Cameron from their ancestral home which are systematically torched as a deliberate government policy as senior military commanders and civilian government officials have admitted, across the border with Nigeria. The victims who at a great risk of a genocide sought international protections within the territory of Nigeria are living under continuing threat of abduction and assassination, after Nigeria provided support to Cameroun to pursue the commission of international crimes against them in the territory of Nigeria.

The answer as to what endeared President Muhammadu Buhari to place Nigeria at the centre of an unfolding genocide, rather than acting as a facilitator of negotiations and peace may not be answered in this one critical historic judgment. Yet the judgment has the merit of laying an enduring foundation for answers to be provided within the compelling injunction of history. The truth, it is said, will never die with those who thought they could imprison it with sheer political chicanery and stealth transborder corrupt operations. Truth is as stubborn as a rock. Nigeria and Cameroun are aware, and this is important that the underlying cause of the war declared by Paul Biya as a proxy of France, are the resources within the territory of the Southern Cameroons.

These minerals are the umbilical cord to the perennial Nigeria misadventure that has devastated the Niger Delta, its ecosystem, maritime resources, economy and human health. Time will reveal if there are a convergence of economic and hegemonic interests by the known yet, invisible political god fathers enforcing the genocide using Nigeria and Cameroun proxies.

I learnt from my years as a lead counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Lone, in the case of the Revolutionary United from for Sierra Leone (RUF)-Morris Kallon that minerals are the curse of Africa. That is why Central Africa Republic has never been at peace since independence despite its mineral rich capabilities. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one case in point; so also, Burundi where abundant mineral resources have attracted the interest and wrath of neo-colonial economic and natural resource predators.

The bazaar auctioning of the Southern Cameroons at independence as my late friend Dr Bate Besong stated, or the Mc McLeod slave deal, as the father of Ambazonia Fon Gorgi Dinka described it, was intended to silence the liberating ambition of Ambazonia patriots. For the record, the slave and bazaar dealers did not know that Ambassbay from which Ambazonia derived its name, stood watch over the liberating spirit of its Ambazonia offspring. Ambassbay is a natural environment for the sharks in the Ambazonia sea as opposed to the neighbouring sea which is inhabited by “crayfish”.

Those with a good sense of aquatic life know that a shark is not an ordinary fish, surely not a crayfish. And this is where the difference lies.
This judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court conveys an underlying message to the abductors that the abduction of Southern Cameroons leaders and citizens will have consequences that may potentially threaten peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea. That Nigeria has become a key ally of the state actor that declared the war of choice that have the capacity of igniting a conflagration in the Gulf of Guinea affecting its own citizens and interests on both sides of the borders, is a matter of profound concern.

The judgment is a municipal judgment on compliance by Nigeria of its multilateral treaty constitutional obligations. Finding that Nigeria violated its municipal laws and treaty obligations, is an important contribution to international law. This judgment therefore must be served on the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council through their permanent representations in New York, all ECOWAS state parties through their diplomatic representations in Abuja, the EU state parties present in Brussels, the AU Commission, and give wide publicity.
This judgment negates the charge by Cameroun that the abductees were and are terrorists.

Nigeria did not make this charge before and during the hearing. Nigeria should be concerned that persons found to be refugees by its own judiciary are facing a court-martial based on international and municipal violations of its own government. With this judgment, the blood of the abductees and other Southern Cameroonians will lay on the hands of Nigeria should they be further held in violation of this judgment or should they be executed pursuant to the court-martial.
International law mandates that any offence committed on the territory of Nigeria can be investigated and prosecuted by Nigeria failing which Nigeria can send the refugees to a third country willing to accept them but not to the country from which they fled and sought refuge in Nigeria.

Will Nigeria submit itself to a court-martial in Cameroun to provide evidence of acts alleged in the charges before the court-martial that were allegedly committed in Nigeria? Does Nigeria recognize a court-martial for civilians which is international human rights jurisprudence has characterised as torture and thus illegal? Does Nigeria by the abductions give legal approval to the crime of abduction which criminalised under the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party? Is abduction of civilians not one of the crimes alleged against Boko Haram in which hundreds of thousands of Nigerian civilians have lost their lives? The Abuja High Court trial was an occasion for Nigeria to prove that abduction is legal when conducted by a state actor but illegal when carried out by non-state actors. Nigeria failed to prove this or even convince the court that this crime may be legal under such or other circumstances.

Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari tends to disobey court orders and indeed disobeyed the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja made by Justice Gabriel Kolawole dated December 2, 2016 ordering the release of Ibrahim el Zazaky the leader the Shiite Muslim Movement who was abducted by the DSS on December 13, 2015. The DSS alleged that he was detained at his own request for protection. The Judge was unpersuaded on the grounds that protective custody was unknown to law or National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS. Since December 29, 2015, Colonel Abubakar Malami former National Security Adviser of President Goodluck Jonathan has remained in jail despite court orders for his release.
However, in a suit brought by a constitutional lawyer Johnmary Jideobi praying the court to void the SAN of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami for professional misconduct for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders, the Attorney General refused being held accountable for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders and that he was not informed about the detentions and so his advice was never sought in the cases. The Attorney General argued in his defence that in cases where his advice was sought, he advised, and the Federal Government complied with court orders. He cited the release on bail of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and that of the survivals of an attack on an uncompleted house in Abuja which was stormed and murdered by some operatives of the National Intelligence Services after the Nigeria Human Rights Commission ordered that victims and their dependents be compensated.
This defence by the attorney therefore begs the questions, if he was never informed how then did, he enters appearance to defend the illegal actions of the Nigeria Government?

Africa, and African leaders should hail the Judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Abuja and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to execute it without delay. This judgment protects the municipal and international protections of refugees afforded by multilateral treaties and municipal constitutional provisions. The international multilateral treaty regime has been tested and proved to be critical in checking the excesses and exactions of the world refugee crisis and the humanitarian calamity that is rocking the conscience of humanity. In their imposed inhuman dungeons Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and the Ambazonia abductees represent the face of humanity at risk. This judgment protects that human value represented by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

African leaders and the international community should applaud this judgment and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to obey and execute it.

This judgment should be a shock reminder to everyone, the powerful and the weak, that a refugee is a protected ward of humanity and the legal regimes emplaced to protect him or her attest to this fact. Abducting and deporting refugees to be court-martialled or placing them in harm’s way tantamount to driving a sword on the collective conscience of humanity. This should not be allowed to happen without consequences.
I have a message for those responsible for the abduction and court-martial of civilian victims.

Respecting this judgment may be the only opportunity for them to avoid placing their own poisoned chalices to their own lips. Babatoura Ahmadou with the use of terror pursued nationalists who sought refuge in foreign lands but died a refugee himself in solitude in distant Senegal. The refugee status he imposed on others and pursued, abducted and killed or assassinated them was the status that protected and sustained him until he died. In 1968, Joseph Desire Mobutu otherwise called Mobutu Sese Seko lured and murdered Pierre Mulele over strong world-wide appeals and condemnation. Mobutu died a miserable refugee in Morocco.

The extensive empire he acquired through, murder, looting and plundering the mineral resources of his country are in ruins. The blood of the thousands he slaughtered to keep himself in eternal power still haunts the memory of him. His countrymen and women are even traumatised turning his extensive empire into the memorial for his innocent victims.
This recorded history may already have extended a hand of invitation to the actors in the theatre of criminality and violations that the Federal High Court High Court in Abuja addressed in this judgment.

Whether they will on their own volition abide by this judgment, is not known to me. However, this judgment is addressed to the collective conscience of Humanity represented by the multilateral treaty regime which the court found was violated. The multilateral treaty regime must demonstrate that it has teeth and that it must not condone or encourage the impunity of state violators of their treaty obligations, lest it wrongly encourages non-state actors. Nigeria itself has a refugee problem in far and distant lands, including Cameroun. It will be unfortunate if Nigerians allow their government to determine their fate through the legitimisation of the violations found in this judgment.

I wish to conclude by addressing a few words to Ambazonians who should be strategizing on how to rely on this judgment to highlight their predicament worldwide where ever they find themselves.

I am appalled by how much social media activism and sideshows are distracting them from following the rapidly evolving events that may determine their fate yet again while they are asleep or self-destructing in search of power. While internal squabbles must be addressed, that cannot override rallying behind the Interim Government that instructed the lawyers working on this and other cases to raise the profile of the cases to the highest levers of international intervention.

While not trivialising the complaints or matters which some components of the struggle may hold dear to their hearts, and I will not and never get involved in such squabbles, I strongly advise all Ambazonians, to henceforth recognize that the Abuja abduction of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others and their deportation to Cameroun requires a strong international legal intervention. It is a crime against the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party. The unwritten underpinning of the Judgment indeed has this implication. It has violated the UN multilateral treaty regime and that of the AU.

Social media activism alone will not get this judgment executed, enforced. It will not rely on the judgment to pursue all international crimes and violations in which hundreds and thousands of civilians are systematically exterminated and civilian settlements, places of worships and hospitals are torched and reduced to rubbles. It is therefore advisable to support the IG to move quickly to fulfil these tasks while other weighty issues are internally reviewed and quickly redressed without the intension of rocking the boat for the sake of power.

Protracted disagreement empowers adversaries. Clearly established areas of agreement should be identified, and prioritised and collective action sought to attain the position outcomes while perennial disagreements struggle for institutional solutions. What cannot wait even for a minute are contributions intended for the collective good, the protection of victims, refugees, vulnerable categories and preventive and protective strategies.

Author: Chief Charles A. Taku

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France’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned Italy’s ambassador following comments by Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio accusing Paris of continuing to colonise Africa and suggesting the European Union should slap sanctions on France.

Speaking on Saturday during a trip to the Abruzzo region, Di Maio attacked France’s policy in Africa, the latest episode in a war of words between Paris and Rome since the anti-establishment 5-Star-Movement and far-right League won power last year in Italy.

“If we have people who are leaving Africa now it’s because some European countries, and France in particular, have never stopped colonising Africa,” Di Maio said.

“If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.”

Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was summoned on Monday afternoon by the chief of staff of European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, a French diplomatic source said.

“It’s not the first time the Italian authorities have made unacceptable and aggressive comments,” the source said.

It was not clear what Di Maio based his allegations on.

The new Italian government has frequently clashed with Paris, be it on immigration or policy in Libya, although until now France has kept its reaction relatively low key.

“I’ve stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Di Maio said.

“The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”

Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in December said French President Emmanuel Macron was to blame for the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked France since November.

Source: news.yahoo.com

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The number of internally displaced persons as a result of the crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon has increased according to the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA.

In a detailed reports released on Thursday December 20, the CHRDA said there was an upsurge of internally displaced persons as well as bunrt down settlements as a result of the persisting crisis.

About 274,908 are internally displaced in the North West region while 278,867 are displaced in the South West making it a 74% increase from the last census, the CHRDA.

The Centre also added that 113 out of the 170 settlements have beeen severely affected and called on the government to accelerate its humanitarian asssistance prrogramme to the Internally displaced persons while seeking for urgent solutions to end the crisis.

This report addds to that of the Norwegian Refugee Council which raised programme similar alarm at the start of the week and called for urgent and assistance humanitarian assistance.

Source: journalducameroun

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While the year 2018 was a transitional year for some countries, which changed their leaders through the ballot box, some other countries like Cameroon and Mali decided to renew their allegiance to their presidents.

The third part of the 2018 elections review gives a brief insight on how election was carried out in Cameroon and Mali.

Biya secures 7th term after 36 years in power

The 2018 presidential elections in Cameroon witnessed some happenings which completely changed the traditional system; election-proclamation of result, to feature a heated court exchange between the state and the opposition.

A lot of people wished this election could be the end of the 36 years rule of President Biya who took over from Ahidjo in 1982, but all hopes were dashed when he announced his intention to run.

The elections took place in a tensed atmosphere with security threats in the North West and South West regions which has plagued the country for over two years.

Barely two days to the polls, two opposition candidates, Akere Muna and Maurice Kamto formed a coalition after several failed attempts by all opposition leaders to come together to unseat Biya, marking the very first time the country has witnessed a coalition.

Amidst growing tension, the election was conducted hitch free but massively boycotted in the restive Anglophone regions due to security threats.

Twenty-four hours after the polls, Maurice Kamto declared himself winner during a press conference in Yaounde stating that figures he received indicated that he had majority of the votes. Such claims were watered down by the government stating that only the constitutional council had the right to proclaim results.

18 petitions were filed before the constitutional council by individuals and parties including Maurice Kamto and Joshua Osih seeking partial or total cancellation of the process. These petitions were termed unfounded and dismissed by the constitutional council.

The Constitutional Council later declared Paul Biya winner with 71% of votes,and he was sworn in for another 7 years term on Tuesday, November

*Ibrahim Boubacar Keita garners 67% votes in election run off

Unable to secure an all out victory in the first round, Ibrahim Boubacar was declared victorious in the presidential race, after amassing 67% of the votes in a run off with main oppostion leader Soumaila Cisse.

The constitutional court in the country gave a green light for a run off to take place on August 12 after results of the first round indicated that no candidate was able to reach the 50% threshold to be declared winner.

Meanwhile several opposition candidate rejected result tallies and called for recounts of some ballots, but the president of the court declared such petitions “inadmissible”.

Despite the fraud allegations filed by Soumaila Cisse, Keita’s major challenger in the elections , Ibrahim Boubacar was declared winner of the elections by the apex court and was sworn in on September 4,2018.

However, Mali’s vote was marred by insecurity which caused many of the voters to boycott the run-off presidential election.

Author: Emilia Nkengmeyi

Source: africanews

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Elimu, Swahili for “imparting knowledge, skill, and judgment,” is the handle for the alternative education project of the Ambazonia grassroots media project the Southern Cameroons Broadcasting Corporation TV (SCBC TV). SCBC TV was born out of the 2017 Cameroon government imposed internet blackout in the occupied territories of Ambazonia also known as the Southern Cameroons.

To start with, SCBC supports without reservation the General Strike (Ghost town action) of the peoples of Ambazonia both as an Ambazonian grassroots movement project but also because the General Strike in itself is a legitimate form of nonviolent resistance.  Thus we would like to categorically state from the getgo that Project Elimu while hoping to help our children learn from home, is NOT in anyway intended to nor will it in anyway undermine the ongoing General Strike.  It is out of our awareness of the importance of education in building a strong foundation for the life of every child, that Project Elimu is being put in place to help our children learn from home in the wake of Cameroon’s refusal to sign the Safe School Declaration, and Cameroon’s sustained attacks on our children and youth in and out of schools. We are hoping project ELIMU will also reduced chances of contact with solders, which has too often than needed turned deadly causing enormous heartache for several Ambazonian families and communities.

We equally look forward to fill the education gaps inherent in the substandard educational system that the neocolonial regime has been so determined to impose on our communities.

SCBC Background

Ambazonia is an English-speaking territory located between Cameroon and Nigeria in West Africa. Ambazonia has been under military occupation by the French neo-colonial regime in Cameroon since an ill-fated UN plebiscite on a confederacy between the two countries in 1961. Immediately before that, Ambazonia had been a UN Trust Territory under British administration— which is why the region’s primary colonial language is English, in contrast to Cameroon in which the primary colonial language is French.

For years there have been waves of protest over the second-class status that is forced on the people of Ambazonia. Despite agreement that Ambazonians get to keep their language and autonomous institutions, Cameroon has systematically eliminated these structures over the years. In the fall of 2016, protests erupted across the territory once more, this time in response to a strike by legal workers called to defend the Ambazonian common law–based judicial system. Though British colonial control was hurtful to Ambazonia in many ways, set in historical context, it was by far the lesser of the evils and left a legacy of respect for a personal-liberties based legal system that has been utilized by legal workers to protect the dignity of the people.

In response to this mass nonviolent demonstration of popular sentiment, the Cameroon military used excessive and unnecessary force to silence the protests. They used helicopter gunships to shoot live ammunition at demonstrations, they chased down and executed hundreds of unarmed protesters, and they detained more than a thousand summarily and without charge. In direct response to these atrocities, for the first time in the history of our struggle, some fractions have chosen to defend their communities with force.

To prevent the people from communicating and reporting these crimes to the outside world, the Cameroon regime cut internet access to the entire territory. In response, community media makers at home and in the diaspora came together to create SCBC TV, which broadcasts remotely from around the world to communities in the occupied territories of Ambazonia––the first community-owned and operated TV station in Africa with global reach.

SCBC TV has been the most prominent tool for mobilizing nonviolent resistance in the occupied territories in this violence-filled time.

Unfortunately, it is clear that the ongoing violence will prevent Ambazonian children from returning to school for the September 2018 academic year. It was in this light that SCBC TV decided to launch an alternative Education TV School which will air lessons into Ambazonian communities under military occupation.

Project ELIMU

September 2018 will be the start of the second academic year in which children in our communities will not be able to go to class as usual because of a conflict that escalated in 2016. To mitigate the damage being done to their education during this time of conflict and the importance of education to the future of our children and society, SCBC decided to start a TV School to provide Ambazonian children the opportunity to learn from home.

The mission of Project ELIMU is to provide a free, world-class education to every child in conflict zones where regular classes are not possible.  We are committed to ensuring that children in conflict zones, starting with Ambazonia can learn from wherever they find themselves just by having access to a TV set and a cellphone. In the medium term, we are looking to extend the program to children in bushes and refugee camps through Project Elimu Learning Centers (PELC).

The Tagline of the Project is: Each One Teach One, making learning a community commitment.

Project Background

The history of TV in the classroom in the US goes as far back as the 1950s. There is a wealth of literature and well-developed sample curricula for TV school projects. That work was further developed by the homeschooling movement of the last 30 years.

We look to build on that research, the developments in the alternative education community including online schools, lectures, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), M-learning, and others to provide our children with high-quality education along with certificates from international accreditation institutions to go with it.

Project ELIMU material is packaged to maximize learning via TV School and optimize learners feedback mostly via cellphone.

Standardized Testing

Project ELIMU is looking to use a multitude of tests based primarily from the best international accreditation and certification institutions. That way when our students following the program they can take the appropriate test for them. We will elaborate on the tests and certification in another document. Project ELIMU will be making an effort to fundraising to cover the cost of some of these international certification tests.

Project Elimu Learning Centers (PELC)

Project Elimu also understands that there are now over 400,000 displaced Ambazonians hiding in bushes and over 60,000 who have sort refuge in Nigeria. For this reason, the project will also include the following elements:

  • Making same study materials readily available online in downloadable format in an app developed by the team called Udemia (https://wudemia.com/). This will enable people to learn from any smartphone or download the material and share with children in other accessible ways on the ground as part of the efforts to reach who might not have access to TV.
  • The project team intends to deploy learning centers across all refugee centers in neighboring Nigeria where all those of school age can also take time to study in the center’s ones they are set up.
  • The team continues engagement with various alternative educators around the world in a bit to continue the research process to make the alternative education not only accessible but worth it for the children who can access it.

To Volunteer, Contact or support the Project Team:

Write to The SCBC Education foundation

Project Elimu Team

Contact by email:  projectelimu@scbctv.com

 

Incumbent Paul Biya has won Cameroon’s presidency for a seventh time, taking a reported 71 percent of the vote. DW’s Fred Muvunyi says it’s another seven years of pain that Cameroonians will have to endure.

Now that Paul Biya has been declared the winner of Cameroon’s presidential election, the country will continue on its downward trajectory, with the possibility of increased violence and the same sort of audacious impunity that has long characterized his 36-year rule.

For me, it’s another missed opportunity to get rid of a dictator. A missed opportunity to give hope to the majority of young Cameroonians who have not seen any other leader in their lives. The opposition says the October 7 vote was rigged in favor of the incumbent.

After failing to oust Biya through the ballot box, opposition politician Kah Walla told me that she would stage protests to take down Africa’s second longest-serving leader. It’s a risky option to remove Biya by force, but given the anger and frustrations of Cameroonians, this seems to be the only left option. However, they should also expect a heavy-handed response from the man who has ruled with an iron fist for nearly four decades.

When I touched down in Douala early on the morning on October 5, Biya’s high-elevated billboards were all over the town, shamelessly proclaiming “La force de l’experience” — loosely translated in English as “the power of experience.” When I asked people what message he had been selling on the campaign trail, the answer was “nothing.”

The 85- year-old managed to show up only once in Cameroon’s far north, one of the country’s most impoverished communities. One opposition leader told me that Biya had no reason to campaign because the voters’ choice doesn’t matter. What matters is Biya’s well-positioned allies that rig the election for him.

Who else can win the election by merely showing up on the ballot paper without campaigning? Biya never bothered appealing to Cameroonians to vote for him. He is arrogant and has lost touch with ordinary citizens in the country. Now he claims to be the winner with 71 percent of the votes. What a joke!

Corruption is rot

Although I had valid documents to travel and work in Cameroon, I had to pay money to be allowed to pass through every police and military checkpoint. Even at the international airport in Douala, staffers there extort money from passengers. I’m not recounting a story of someone else: It’s my personal experience. Bribes are evident in most African countries, but Cameroon is on another level. An anti-corruption organization, Transparency International, puts Cameroon among the most corrupt nations in the world, taking the 153rd spot out of 175 countries.

Biya is taking the lead. He himself has spent at least four and a half years in total on private trips in the 36 years he has been president, according to research supported by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Biya has made himself at home in Geneva’s five-star Intercontinental hotel, paying the total bill and chartered jet costs of around $182 million (€156 million).

Violence all over the country

While in Cameroon a few days ago, I saw how the central African nation is sliding into a terrible civil war that the world will only wake up to when nobody is left to save.

The worsening crisis is mostly the result of the Biya regime, using brutality and indiscriminate violence as a first resort, instead of dialogue, to address valid grievances from the country’s English-speaking minority. In silencing them, soldiers have killed about 4,000 Anglophone civilians, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, a nongovernmental organization based in Buea, the capital of southwestern Cameroon. Around 500,000 people are displaced — many live in forests fearing government soldiers.

There are no signs the violence will stop anytime soon.

While I was in the war-ravaged regions, guns could be heard day in and day out. Bodies were scattered on the streets, and most places were completely deserted, instead occupied by heavily-armed government soldiers.

I come from Rwanda, a country that went through civil war and genocide two decades ago. I lost my close relatives when the international community looked away, abandoning minority Tutsis who were being slaughtered at the time. I’m afraid that Cameroon is taking the same path Rwanda took 24 years ago.

I’m not pleading to the international community to stop the violence and the rogue regime of Paul Biya, because I’m already disappointed with the West. I’m merely asking Cameroonians, both English and French speakers, to stand up for their country and take down selfish leaders who are tearing them apart. Thirty-six years of pain and anguish is too much to endure. Don’t take it anymore and don’t let Biya play over your life again.

Author:  Fred Muvunyi

Source: allafrica

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In the past year, certain prominent NGOs have been peddling the impression that the violence taking place right now in Ambazonia is a conflict between two sparing parties. Invoking the value of political neutrality, they rush to always address what “both sides” are doing in “equal measure.”

This is equivalent to narrating the David and Goliath fight as a “fair match”.

In fact, the reality is more like a conflict between ten Goliaths who have each been given training and supplies by some of the biggest armies in the world (France, the US and Israel), and one David with a single slingshot. Any reasonable person can see that actual neutrality in narrating this conflict would be proportional attention to the harm being wrecked by this Goliath Army vs. by David’s slingshot. The politically biased behavior is to narrate the conflict as though there is a parity, when there quite clearly is not.

As we pointed out in our critique of Amnesty International’s June 2018 report on Cameroon, when US President Trump tried to say that there was “violence on both sides” during the August 2017 neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, VA, a broad-based chorus of press and humanitarian voices unilaterally rejected this narrative wholesale, and correctly so. In the same way, we unilaterally reject this false equivalency between the Ambazonian resistance and the Cameroon military that the NGO-industrial complex is peddling.

What is the political motive to this distortion? While some people repeating this narrative may not be aware of it, the main function of this distortion is to distract people from the power dynamics at play, and to discourage attention to the actual political demands of the aggrieved party.

In the 1990s, the same sort of “equal violence on both sides,” narrative destroyed the international solidarity network that had formed around the pro-democracy movement in CongoDRC started by the Union for Democracy & Social Progress (UDPS).

Founded in 1982, UDPS introduced the continent of Africa anew to the General Strike, or “Operation Ghost Town” as it would soon become known all over the continent. With the power of this tool of mass nonviolent resistance, UDPS forced the national conference to revise the constitution, ushering in democratic reforms on the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Across Africa, others copied the Ghost Town tactic, introducing multiparty politics in Cameroon, bringing about the fall of the dictator in Congo-Brazzaville, and launching a wave of democratic reforms across the continent.

Then some regime holdouts in CongoDRC started instigating attacks and trying to stoke inter-communal violence in certain parts of the country. As some communities responded in self-defense, a group of mostly international NGOs and media outlets started in with the “equal violence on both sides” narrative. Soon international solidarity for the cause of the UDPS collapsed and all discussion shifted to these “violent parties” who had imposed themselves on the body politics of the CongoDRC, and how to help the “poor victims caught in the middle.” Everyone stopped talking about the actual grievances and demands of the UDPS. And the rest is history.

That is just one example. Below is a partial list of other examples where large human rights NGOs rushed to introduce “both sides/equivalency” narratives in situations of vastly unequal power.
Rwanda: Deliver Justice for Victims of Both Sides
South Sudan: New Abuse of Civilians by Both Sides
Ivory Coast: Both Sides Responsible for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (Compare with this documentary from Italian Public TV)
Libya: Amnesty finds abuses on both sides
Eastern Ukraine: Tortured by Both Sides
Philippines: Both Sides in Marawi Siege Committed Abuses (also here & here)
Yemen: Both Sides Committing Abuses; No Justice for War Crimes

You’ll notice that most of these examples are in Africa!

That is why APOCS Network will not allow anybody to peddle the “equal violence on both sides” narrative on our just struggle. It is true that some communities did resort to the use of force to defend themselves following the cold-blooded massacre of peaceful protesters with helicopter gunship on October 1, 2017. But these actions, which came after 56 years of completely nonviolent resistance, are like David slinging a rock at a Goliath Army of bulletproof tanks. And the crushing lethal crackdown by the Cameroon regime in response is no more justified than if a gang of fully-armed Goliaths were to accost their tiny foe with the full force of their weaponry just because he managed to hit one of them with a single rock.

More importantly, our community’s use of force in self-defense is not more important than the REASONS our people are struggling in the first place. Any presentation that erases the actual grievances when narrating particular actions is participating in the process of erasing what is actually going on, which is a decades-long-in-coming uprising against an excessively unjust situation.

Another reason that respected NGOs are participating in this distorting narrative is that it plays into a longstanding racist idea that Africans are just particularly prone to fighting with each other. Perhaps some individuals propagating this narrative are not aware, but they are drawing from an old and powerful stereotype that has been used repeatedly to dumb down discussion of the specific drivers of conflicts in Africa.

The subtext is that African conflicts do not deserve to be narrated using serious political analysis that delves into the history, geopolitics and economics underlying them — which would require that Global North-dominated NGOs and policy makers put time and expertise to understand these complexities. Instead, African conflicts can just be narrated like a sports game, since what can you expect anyway when dealing with these inherently violence-prone Africans.

In this instance, when APOCS Network has introduce historical context and political-economic motives into the discussion, we have been repeatedly told “we aren’t interested in the content underlying the conflict.”

Of course this narrative helps the powerful party in the conflict! It does so by shifting attention away from the actual abuses they have inflicted that have led to the resistance. In most cases, that powerful party is a neocolonial dictator, or mercenaries recruited by European mining interest as was the case in CongoDRC. in this way, the “equal violence on both sides” narratives actively uphold the status quo of white supremacist control of Africa’s resources.

This is why we will fact check every report on our struggle no matter the reputation of the entity producing the report. Any entity or individual who actually cares about African liberation should take these critiques in stride and respond in good faith.

Source: ambazoniapocs

Among the many French and British African colonies which achieved independence in the early 1960s, Cameroon seemed destined for greatness.  A diverse reflection of peoples from across Africa, Cameroon has both Christians and Muslims, and French and English-speakers. The country enjoys substantial natural resources, as well as excellent agricultural potential.

Sadly, greatness has eluded the Cameroonian people. The country’s governance over the past six decades has been deficient in practically every respect. Weak democratic institutions are largely to blame; there is no doubt that Paul Biya will be the winner of the just-completed elections. Like every election in Cameroon since 1982, the 2018 polls were most certainly rigged.

Cameroon’s current turmoil is an inevitable consequence of the illegal 1972 referendum to unify the country and relegate anglophone Cameroonians to minority status, and decades of authoritarian rule by Paul Biya and his Beti minority, who comprise just 10% of the country’s population. Because of minority rule – and the inevitable corruption historically concomitant with such governance in Africa – Cameroon has not made as much progress in economic development as neighboring countries, especially Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The abolition of the federal system deceived the Anglophone community

Cameroon achieved independence as a federation of the former French Cameroon and part of the former British Cameroon.  The people of the former British Cameroon voted in a UN-organized referendum to join with the former French Cameroon in a federal system. The English-speaking part of the Federal regime became West Cameroon, with its own legislature and its own President. The elected President of West Cameroon was designated de facto Vice President of the Federation under the constitution.

Decline began in 1972, when then-President Ahmadou Ahidjo  decided to hold a nationwide referendum on abolishing the federation, replacing it with a unified government.  Not surprisingly, 75% of the Francophone population voted to end the semi-autonomous status of English-speaking West Cameroon.  Cameroon became a unified state.

From the beginning, the political leadership of anglophone Cameroon considered the unification an illegal violation, under international law, of the original UN referendum to establish a federal system with equal political status for the francophone and anglophone regions. Only the people of West Cameroon had the right to decide whether or not to end their status as a member of this federation. The 1972 referendum made them into just another minority.

English-speaking intellectuals from West Cameroon began traveling to western capitals, including Washington, in the 1980s to call attention to their people’s unhappiness with this illegal move.

IsabelleEbanda40.jpg

After 1982, the Cameroonian Government entered an indefinite period of minority rule

In 1982, the founding President of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, decided to retire after 22 years in power. He was succeeded by his Vice President, Paul Biya. This change added to the unhappiness of anglophone Cameroonians: Biya inaugurated a long period of minority rule, arranging for his ethnic group, the Beti, to hold a monopoly over political and economic power. To this day, the Beti continue to rule the country, as Biya continues to rule as President.

Violent protest among Anglophones became inevitable

As frustration mounted, incidents of anti-regime violence within Anglophone Cameroon grew in frequency and intensity to the point of quasi-civil war. The government’s security problems were multiplied by Boko Haram, which began attacking the northern region near Lake Chad from its main territory in northeast Nigeria.

The Biya administration has attempted, unsuccessfuly, to repress the anglophone rebellion with a harsh crackdown. The anglophone community’s resilience may be strengthened by significant ethnic support on the Nigerian side of the border.

Despite its economic potential, Cameroon has lagged in development thanks to these basic issues with fair representation and democratic institutions. As for the immediate future, the Cameroonian government will not find peace unless it negotiates a new relationship with its anglophone community. Another Biya term will not represent progress towards a solution to the country’s crisis. A return to the pre-1972 federal system would constitute a major step forward.

Source: cohenonafrica

African economies will require significant work to compete at on global scale.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Index—a report compiled by the World Economic Forum—African countries make up 17 of the bottom 20 nations. While the global median score is 60, the median in sub Saharan Africa (45.2) is the lowest for all the regions analyzed. The annual index ranks countries based on 12 pillars based broadly on these factors: an enabling environment, markets, human capital and an innovation ecosystem. Each of the 140 countries are ranked based on their scores out of 100.

Mauritius and South Africa are among the few bright spots with both being the only two African nations in the top half of the index. Mauritius’ top ranking is hinged on scoring high on pillars, especially strong institutions. Its 62.9 score on institutions is particularly considered a “considerable competitive advantage” in sub Saharan Africa as 65% of economies in the region score below 50.

Top ten ranked African countries Rank Score
Mauritius 49 63.7
South Africa 67 60.8
Seychelles 74 58.5
Morocco 75 55.6
Tunisia 87 54.5
Botswana 90 55.6
Algeria 92 54.5
Kenya 93 53.8
Egypt 94 53.8
Namibia 100 52.7

Across the board, sub Saharan Africa posts the weakest average regional performance on 10 out of the 12 pillars analyzed, including information communications technology adoption and the human capital pillars of health and skills.

As Quartz has previously reported, internet costs are higher in Africa than everywhere else while internet speeds across Africa are still far below the global minimum standard. The scale of human capital spending is also reflected the World Bank’s first-ever Human Capital Index released this month. Nigeria—Africa’s largest economy—ranks 152nd of 157 countries analyzed and Africa accounts for the entire bottom 10.

Boosting scores on future indexes and creating more competitive economies, the report says, will depend on how ”old developmental issues”—mainly weak institutions, poor infrastructure and skills deficit—are resolved. “The much-vaunted economic leapfrogging will not happen unless these issues are addressed decisively,” the report adds.

Source: qz.com

When Central African Republic (CAR) pleaded for help last year to fight marauding militias, former colonial ruler France offered guns it had seized off Somalia. But Russia objected and donated its own weapons instead.

By early February, Russia had sent nine planes with weapons along with dozens of contractors to train local soldiers and secure mining projects, marking the start of its highest-profile military foray in sub-Saharan Africa for decades.

Muscling in on a country dominated by France for years served as a statement of intent about Moscow’s renewed push for global prestige and influence, and is part of a wider campaign shaking up long-standing power dynamics on the continent.

Since Western nations sanctioned Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, Moscow has signed 19 military cooperation deals in sub-Saharan Africa, including with Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, according to its foreign and defense ministries and state media.

The continent’s 54 member states at the United Nations – three of which sit on the Security Council at any given time –  form the organization’s largest voting bloc and one of its most coherent, making them attractive allies for Russia.

“The West is not very much loved by many countries. And many (see) Russia as the country that will oppose the West,” said Dmitri Bondarenko, an anthropologist and historian at Russia’s Institute for African Studies.

Besides sending arms and contractors to CAR, Russian national Valery Zakharov is a security adviser to President Faustin-Archange Touadera and Russia’s defense ministry said last week it planned to establish a five-person team at CAR’s defense ministry.

Russia’s moves come at a time when the defense ministry’s influence over Kremlin foreign policy is growing against a backdrop of heightened tension with the West.

SEIZED WEAPONS

When CAR made its plea in 2017, there was recognition that a spike in ethnic fighting could turn into a far larger conflict and that its security forces were too weak to tackle myriad armed groups.

CAR has been under a U.N. arms embargo since 2013 so weapons shipments must be approved by the U.N. Security Council’s CAR sanctions committee, made up of the Council’s 15 members, including France and Russia. It operates by consensus.

France first offered to help CAR buy old weapons but the proposal was too expensive. France then offered 1,400 AK47 assault rifles it had seized off Somalia in 2016, according to a Security Council memo and four diplomats.

Russia objected on the grounds that weapons seized for breaching the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia could not be recycled for use in another country under embargo, two diplomats said.

But mindful of the need for a quick solution, the sanctions committee approved Moscow’s donation of AK47s, sniper rifles, machineguns and grenade launchers in December, according to committee documents and diplomats.

“We presented our problem and Russia offered to help us, subject to Security Council approval,” said Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, CAR’s presidential spokesman. “If peace is restored tomorrow in CAR, I think everyone will be happy.”

Russia’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment about committee proceedings.

France’s foreign ministry said Russia must strictly respect the terms of its arms embargo exemption to keep the weapons out of the wrong hands.

‘WE’RE NOT INTERESTED’

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union forged close military and diplomatic ties with many African countries. It was involved in proxy wars in states such as Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique and helped independence movements fight Western colonial powers.

Russia is now trying to revive some of the relationships that lapsed after the Soviet Union’s collapse. It joins a number of countries such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates looking to set up bases in Africa, mediate in diplomatic stand-offs and strike business deals.

China has long had a major economic presence in Africa but it has shied away from any military involvement. It did go a step further last year, however, opening its first military base outside China in Djibouti.

Near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, Djibouti is also home to a large French base, the only U.S. base in Africa, an Italian camp and Japan’s only overseas base.

Djibouti blocked Russian attempts to set up a base, however, saying it wanted to avoid becoming the terrain for a proxy war. Moscow is now planning to build a logistics center at a port in neighboring Eritrea.

While France has a military bases outside Djibouti in former colonies Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal and its soldiers also operate in Chad, Mali and Niger, analysts say Washington’s influence is on the wane.

Its trade with the continent has halved in the past decade, though much of that is due to U.S. shale replacing oil imports from Africa. Diplomatic posts have gone unfilled and a task force based in CAR tracking warlord Joseph Kony left last year.

“Our actions on the diplomatic and military side have sent a huge signal to our partners that we’re not interested in Africa,” said Donald Bolduc, who commanded U.S. special forces across the continent until last year.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy said Washington’s commitment to Africa was unwavering but, “there is space for other countries to play a positive role in the region”.

AFRICAN DEALS

As part of Russia’s renewed push, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on a five-nation tour of Africa in March, attended a summit in South Africa in June and visited Rwanda, chair of the African Union, this year.

Russia has also struck military cooperation deals with many African countries since 2015, though some have yet to come into force. The agreements typically involve providing weapons and training in areas such as counter-terrorism and piracy.

Analysts caution that the deals often appear more symbolic than transformative and say it’s not clear if Russia has the resources, or desire, to continue expanding its presence.

But as in the Cold War, military deals can come alongside economic links, such as mining and energy agreements. Ethiopia signed its deal in April, a month after Lavrov visited to discuss nuclear energy, agriculture and transportation projects.

Russian firms have signed mineral deals in Sudan, which cooperates with Moscow in defense technology, and Russia is looking at diamond and platinum projects in Zimbabwe as well as energy projects in Chad.

Over the past decade, Russian trade with sub-Saharan Africa has increased fast, albeit from a low base. From 2010-2017, total trade rose to $4.2 billion a year from $1.6 billion, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies www.csis.org.

During the same period, China’s total trade with sub-Saharan Africa nearly doubled to $165 billion while U.S. trade more than halved to $37 billion.

WAGNER GROUP

Since arriving in CAR, the Russians’ remit has expanded beyond military advice and into various economic and diplomatic activities, a Western diplomat and security source said, fuelling the beginnings of a Western backlash.

In August, France, the United Kingdom and the United States blocked a Russian request to send more weapons. The U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a note to the sanctions committee that it was awaiting, “confirmation that measures had been taken to ensure the secure management of the previous donation”.

Estimates of the number of Russians in CAR vary widely, from 250 to 1,000. Touadera’s spokesman declined to provide details, nor say what activities the Russians were engaged in.

Yevgeny Shabayev, head of a chapter of a paramilitary Cossack organization who has ties to Russian security contractors, said there could be 1,000 in CAR and 5,000 to 10,000 across Africa, including in Sudan, South Sudan and Libya.

One Russian private military contractor, the Wagner group, was thrust into the spotlight in July when three Russian journalists were killed in CAR while investigating its alleged presence there.

Reuters has been unable to confirm whether Wagner contractors are in CAR. People with ties to the group have told Reuters it has carried out clandestine combat missions on the Kremlin’s behalf in Ukraine and Syria.

Russian authorities deny Wagner contractors carry out their orders. They have denied any role in the journalists’ deaths.

Russia has also stepped into negotiations with militias in CAR, adding to Western misgivings about its presence.

According to a U.N. panel of experts, Touadera’s Russian adviser has met militia leaders several times to discuss disarmament and the distribution of natural resources revenue.

Russia said in August after brokering talks between armed groups that Touadera had expressed gratitude for its involvement and that it intended to continue its mediation.

Reuters was unable to contact the adviser, Zakharov, for comment.

“There is a real division between that guy and the rest of the presidential advisers,” the security source said. “When you ask, ‘Can we see your colleague?’ they say, ‘Who, our colleague? We don’t know him’.”

Author: Aaron Ross

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