Political, Uncategorized

The Crisis in Cameroon is finally making its way to the EU Commission

Over the past months, I have been surprised many times on how little is being reported in International media concerning the aggressions in Southern Cameroon provinces.

There were some articles in The Guardian but things seemed to halt there. Even those articles seemed to mainly make their way to those impacted and not really to the desk of politicians. I have quizzed a number of politicians (and journalists) I happened to know or got in touch with and most were not aware of any “situation” in the Southern Cameroons. Specifically the absence of articles in (usually quite comprehensive reporting) outlets like BBC, Africa News, Deutsche Welle and RFI was notable.

All compelling evidence submitted to ACMP and it’s members however was in our opinion definitely warranting political attention, so we actively pursued journalists on this matter. The reality unfortunately is that usually politicians act based on international attention in the media. Absence of this makes it hard for politicians in their usually full agenda to act, basically because of lack of awareness.

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The EU might play a vital role in getting the situation in Southern Cameroons on the international agenda.

In this situation that was also the case, and when I alerted my political contacts at EU level, most were not even aware of any issue in Cameroon. The last known status was the internet blockage of beginning last year.  When I met with Hilde Vautmans, who is member of the Foreign Committee and has a passion for Africa. She also acted as president of the Rwanda commission and therefor perfectly positioned to have an opinion un this matter.

Luckily, all efforts were not in vain and EU Parliamentarian Hilde Vautmans (ALDE) has asked written questions to the Foreign affairs commission of the EU, EEAS headed by Federica Mogherini.

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EU Commissioner responsible for EEAS, Federica Mogherini

The following questions were raised:

Clashes between insurgents and government forces for a breakaway republic in Cameroon’s English-speaking region have recently intensified.

The conflict began following peaceful protests by Anglophone teachers, who felt discriminated against. Anglophones, who make up 20% of Cameroon’s 23-million population, have over time felt marginalised in the socio-cultural, political and economic spheres by the Francophone-dominated government.

The separatist forces capitalised on the teachers’ protest, and stepped up pressure on the government, which responded to the crisis with counter-insurgency operations. While most Anglophones simply wished that their grievances be addressed, the more radical factions have called for independence for the self-declared state of Ambazonia. The security forces responded violently to these protests, killing scores of people and displacing 160 000.

What is the VP/HR’s position on the intercommunal violence in Cameroon, and what has been done so far in response?

What specific steps does the European External Action Service plan to take to alleviate the tensions in Cameroon and move towards a peaceful resolution?

According to some reports, FinFisher surveillance software, which was produced by European companies, was used by the Cameroonian Government to target the opposition. How will the VP/HR counter the indirect export of such cyber tools to Cameroon?

We now have to wait for the official answers from EEAS, and will update this story when they get available.

Uncategorized

Southern Cameroons struggle enters a new phase

Last week the world witnessed a horrendous video showing apparent military of La Republique Cameroun (The official army of the state of Cameroon) and / or affiliated militia, executing unarmed women and children in the Northern state of Cameroon.

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A still from the horrendous video alledgedly showing Cameroon Military executing children in Northern Cameroon.

This hideous act shocked the world and that might be the silver lining on a dark cloud looming over this Central African country. This video finally made its way to the international media, unlike a lot of other videos and footage recently shot from the English speaking Northwest and Southwest Provinces in Cameroon. There, the Cameroun army also is witnessed committing crimes against humanity and over the past years, the atmosphere in this part of Cameroon has gradually fallen into a civil-war like status. A good part of this English speaking population is no longer accepting being ruled by the French speaking majority in this country, and have called for the installation of an independent nation, they call Ambazonia.

The English speaking opposition in these two provinces have for log been oppressed and chased by the official Government of Cameroon, headed by long ruling president Paul Biya, who recently announced wanting to extend his reign for another 5 years in this years election.

Yesterday, the French celebrated Quatorze Juilliet, its National Holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille which is by the French seen as the birthday of the Nation in its current form.

Many Ambazonians consider France to be an accomplice in these atrocities, either actively through supply of military equipment and assistance (even in the form of French Military being deployed in Cameroon) but at least passively by not openly condemning the atrocities. Truth is that many French news outlets have focussed on the official communication of the French Speaking Cameroon government, who accuse the English speaking part of the country to kill its military and police officers ( https://www.ouest-france.fr/monde/cameroun/crise-au-cameroun-81-militaires-et-policiers-tues-dans-les-regions-anglophones-5836236 ) and hardly spent a word on the opposite side of the story, its age long oppression and marginalisation of the English speaking community.

Ambazonians have taken the opportunity of the French National Holiday to start a political cleansing of its own, enforcing a deadline on all political representatives from the Anglophone regions to officially resign their positions or on refusal of this, being seen as a terrorist against the state of Ambazonia. (https://www.facebook.com/100002251434436/posts/1752023348216029/ ).Untitled

 

As much as such a request was expected, and one can see the reasoning behind it, the sheer wording of it brings possibilities which can be compared to abhorrent historical events where cleansing of certain groups of people were made subject to any form of violence apparently condoned by the institutions. We are as we speak still tracing down its origin and legitimacy. UPDATE: we received official response from the Interim Government that this post is NOT endorsed by them; “This is not official, No official information from any of the liberation movements, it happens to be one of those random posts.” However, it is also acknowledged: “some guerrilla commanders met in Kumba and issued this ultimatum“.

Looking forward, one can only fear what will happen in the coming weeks. Will this call for action be followed by all MP’s and Senators? And if not what will happen to those not complying? One thing is sure, this action, if supported by the shadow government of Ambazonia, is definitely making any political and diplomatic solution harder. There will after this ultimatum, no longer be any political representation of Ambazonia in the Cameroon government. Bloodshed will likely intensify, and the possible execution of their own political representatives only obfuscates an already (for foreighn observers) very diffuse situation. This will give the Cameroon official government even more ammunition to throw accusations to the Ambazonians, which in the short term not help their cause. A more diplomatic approach to this situation would have been way more preferable, but diplomacy seems to have left Cameroon already for some time.

Update: This post seems to be the work of someone independent and not speaking on behalf of the Interim Government of Ambazonia. This is good news, since it at least does not show any sign of violent and escalating approach from the Interim Government itself. However, this post quickly made its way through different networks and therefor its destructive power is not any less. People can act simply believing this is a true statement from an authority, leading to further escalations. It would be good if the Interim Government could therefor quickly disarm such posts by denying their support.

Uncategorized

Controversial Deal Adds New Dimension to Anglophone Crisis

09/06/2018

British natural resources company ‘New Age African Global Energy’ announced a Natural Gas deal worth over £1.5 billion in Cameroon today, sparking controversy over the situation in Southern Cameroon.

OIL GAS CAMEROON

The deal involves the development of the Etinde field, located off the coast of Cameroon, with a floating liquefied natural gas platform that was recently leased from Vantage Drilling. The rig is expected to be on-station for at least 150 days, and will involve international LNG/LPG carriers offshore and a gas export line to Limbe, a city in the contested South-West region of Cameroon. The British Embassy has stated that the project will create 350 skilled jobs, split between onshore and offshore positions.

A former British colony, many residents of Southern Cameroon were looking to the British government for support during the current crisis, and so this latest development has been a highly controversial event. There has been a furious response to the deal as the British government is now seen to be supporting the Biya regime despite documented human rights abuses and incidents in the same region. The deal also casts aspersions over the visit over the Minister for Africa, Harriet Baldwin, earlier this year. It had been considered that the Minister had been seeking to mediate in the Anglophone Crisis, however, this now appears impossible. Instead, it appears highly likely that the Minister played some role in promoting the deal to her Cameroonian counterparts.

‘New Age African Global Energy’ has an interesting history that should also be considered when viewing this investment. New Age’s backers, the US hedge fund Och-Ziff, were previously found guilty of paying more than $100 million in bribes to government officials in Chad, Niger, Libya, Guinea and the DRC to secure natural resources deals. The hedge fund (and it’s subsidiaries) were forced to pay a $2.2 million fine to settle a record-keeping violation, and a further massive $413 million fine for related criminal and civil charges. This shady heritage raises serious questions about the validity of the New Age deal.

Finally, whilst the recent military deployments to Southern Cameroon had only been considered in the context of the Anglophone crisis, it is clear that the New Age deal adds another dimension for the Biya regime, with the security of the Limbe port being vital to the success of the project. This may result in further heavy military deployment to the region.

The reaction to the deal has been marked by fury at the British Government, which is seen to be stealing resources illegally from the independent state of Ambazonia, as opposed to assisting its former brethren to solve the Anglophone Crisis. Threats have already been made towards the project from elements in the region, although there is an overriding sense of great disappointment, disillusionment and hurt from local citizens.

From an independent perspective, rarely has British policy in Africa appeared so callous in recent years. Citizens of the former British Southern Cameroons have been calling out to Britain for support for generations, but especially since the start of the current phase of the Anglophone Crisis. Britain’s silence- and consequent agreement with the government of Cameroon- speaks volumes as to its position on the anglophone crisis. Questions will undoubtedly be raised in parliament about the investment, but that will likely require the information and data of this project to have any impact.

It is important to note that the UK Government is under pressure to announce trade deals due to pressure surrounding Brexit, however, there is a distinct possibility that this announcement may backfire on them in the long run.

Ultimately, today’s announcement was a deeply unwelcome, wounding intrusion into the affairs of Ambazonians, and it would be logical to expect a response in some form in the coming days.