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Cameroon summoned French and German envoys to protest “violence and vandalism” during opposition demonstrations at the central African nation’s embassies in Paris and Berlin.

The two European host governments failed to provide ample diplomatic and consular protection during the Jan. 26 protests by backers of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, in violation of international conventions, Cameroon’s Communication Minister and government spokesman Rene Emmanuel said in a statement Tuesday in the capital, Yaounde.

While the United Nations condemned the violence at the Cameroonian embassies, it also expressed concern about alleged use of force by security forces during demonstrations in Cameroon’s port city of Douala in recent days, and the arrest of opposition leader Maurice Kamto, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ office said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

“The UN calls on Cameroonian authorities to respect the freedom of assembly, association and expression and stress the need for restraint by all political actors,” according to the statement.

Author: Pius Lukong

Source: bloomberg

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What began as a civil protest by some disgruntled English-speaking lawyers, teachers, and students from Southern Cameroons, against the marginalization of the French-speaking majority in 2016, is now gradually degenerating into a brutal civil war. Since President Paul Biya declared war on the secessionists after they attacked and killed two policemen in 2017, villages have been burnt down, thousands of people have fled their homes and more than 40,000 have fled to Nigeria as refugees according to the United Nations. In fact, there are even allegations of genocide in the region.

In the light of this situation as well as the following reasons, Nigeria has a duty to rescue the Southern Cameroonians from the claws of Paul Biya before he sends them into geographic extinction.

First, Southern Cameroonians were formerly Nigerians until the plebiscite of 1961 allowed them to join Cameroon. Despite this, they have been grossly marginalized and treated as minorities by the Francophone government in Yaounde. Hence, the reason for their agitation. There is nothing wrong if Nigeria supports Southern Cameroons in their quest for freedom since they share historical and cultural relationships.

Second, if Nigeria does not help Southern Cameroons broker peace, the spillover effects of a potential civil war will definitely affect the former. Currently, over 40,000 Cameroonian refugees are in Nigeria. The number may increase if Nigeria keeps folding her hands and watch as the Biya led government continues to lay siege on Southern Cameroons.

Third, if not anything but good neighbourliness. Africa has always been the centrepiece of Nigerian foreign policy. Since Nigeria became independent, she has helped many African countries through her good neighbourliness policy.

The anti-apartheid black movement in South Africa readily comes to mind as one of the examples of Nigeria good neighbourliness gesture. Hence, Nigeria must extend this gesture towards the Southern Cameroonians, especially as they were formerly Nigerians.

Fourth, Nigeria stands a chance of reclaiming the Bakassi Peninsula if she supports Southern Cameroons. On August 14, 2008, Nigeria handed over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in the latter’s favour. Before then, Nigeria and Cameroon had disputed over the ownership of the land. If Nigeria helps Southern Cameroon actualize her independence dream, she can revisit the Green Tree Agreement.

Fifth, genocide and state-sponsored terrorism are not acceptable in the post-Westphalia order. From reports, it is as if the war against secessionists has turned out to be a genocide and state-sponsored terrorism against the Anglophone Cameroonians, given how villages have been burnt down, and how about 160,000 thousands of people have been displaced from their homes.

If this is the case, the post-Westphalia order strictly forbids state-sponsored terrorism and genocide in Southern Cameroons and elsewhere. In fact, they could be strong reasons for the superpowers to invade Cameroon. But while it is as if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is asleep over the conflict, Nigeria can assist Southern Cameroons on humanitarian grounds. No country will chide Nigeria for this, knowing full well that the post-Westphalia order prioritizes humanitarian concern over a country’s sovereignty.

Nigeria will be the one to bear the brunt at the end of the day if war erupts in Cameroon. The number of refugees that she would have to host both in the south and north is unimaginable, a big threat to her security and resources. In order to avoid this, she must act fast either through the initiation of dialogue or openly declare support for Southern Cameroons.

Author: Ibitoye Olukosi

Source: qwenu.com

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Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) led a letter signed by a group of Democratic Senators to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raising deep concerns about violations of human rights, the breakdown in the rule of law, and elections fraud in Cameroon. In addition to Senator Van Hollen, the letter was signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

The Senators write, “Cameroon has become an increasingly important regional counterterrorism partner and the United States has increased its commitment of security assistance in recent years. However, rising tensions in the Anglophone North West and South West regions, coupled with credible reports of human rights abuses by the Cameroonian armed forces in those regions and the Far North, where Boko Haram is active, have changed the tone of discussions regarding U.S. security assistance.”

They continue, “Reports indicate that government forces are responsible for extrajudicial killings, the burning of villages, torture, and other human rights abuses, including a much-publicized video reportedly showing soldiers executing two women, a child, and a baby they accused of being members of Boko Haram. The violent death of American missionary Charles Wesco underscores the level of bloodshed engulfing the Anglophone areas of the country. United Nations figures indicate that more than 21,000 Cameroonians have fled to neighboring countries and 160,000 are internally displaced.”

The Senators close the letter urging, “The U.S. government should make clear to the government of Cameroon that, while we remain dedicated to the fight against Boko Haram, our commitment to human rights and the rule of law is steadfast and we expect our regional partners to share that commitment. We must also emphasize the critical importance of a political solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions, work with civil society groups to ensure that elections are free, open, and transparent, and offer our assistance as mediators. The United States should impose sanctions on individuals found to have committed gross violations of human rights, consistent with the law. In addition, we will work with our colleagues in the Senate to assess whether additional conditions should be imposed on security assistance to Cameroon.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We are writing in response to concerns that have been raised about the recent elections in Cameroon, the ongoing crisis in the Anglophone regions of the country, and human rights abuses related to the crisis and the campaign against Boko Haram.

Cameroon has become an increasingly important regional counterterrorism partner and the United States has increased its commitment of security assistance in recent years. However, rising tensions in the Anglophone North West and South West regions, coupled with credible reports of human rights abuses by the Cameroonian armed forces in those regions and the Far North, where Boko Haram is active, have changed the tone of discussions regarding U.S. security assistance.

Reports indicate that government forces are responsible for extrajudicial killings, the burning of villages, torture, and other human rights abuses, including a much-publicized video reportedly showing soldiers executing two women, a child, and a baby they accused of being members of Boko Haram. The violent death of American missionary Charles Wesco underscores the level of bloodshed engulfing the Anglophone areas of the country. United Nations figures indicate that more than 21,000 Cameroonians have fled to neighboring countries and 160,000 are internally displaced.

In addition, recent elections were marred by irregularities and intimidation. Voter turnout in the Anglophone regions was reportedly “marked by apathy, and in some regions, outright fear,” and driven to unprecedented lows by the military’s campaign against Anglophone separatists, which has often veered into human rights abuses against civilians. The results of the election remain heavily disputed, and multiple presidential candidates have petitioned for the results to be voided, citing allegations of ballot stuffing and intimidation. The program director for Central Africa at the International Crisis Group told Foreign Policy that “[t]here is an emerging civil war. Anglophones feel completely disenfranchised, but they didn’t need the elections to tell them that.”

The U.S. government should make clear to the government of Cameroon that, while we remain dedicated to the fight against Boko Haram, our commitment to human rights and the rule of law is steadfast and we expect our regional partners to share that commitment. We must also emphasize the critical importance of a political solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions, support civil society groups to ensure that elections are free, credible, and transparent, and offer our assistance as mediators. The United States should impose sanctions on individuals found to have committed gross violations of human rights, consistent with the law. In addition, we will work with our colleagues in the Senate to assess whether additional conditions should be imposed on security assistance to Cameroon.

We look forward to working with you on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

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Source: vanhollen.senate.gov

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