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Bamenda Road Incident, Evidence Points to French Cameroun Act of Terror

 

Press Release
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PRREF#0028-09/11/2018

September 11, 2018

 
French Cameroun Government is once more engaged in a calculated misinformation campaign, this time on the road blockade and the wreckage that took place at Akum, a stretch of road linking Ambazonia’s Savanah zone to French Cameroun. That evening, a handful of public transport buses heading out of the city of Bamenda were intercepted and with the use of caterpillars, were severely defaced and rendered inoperable. The buses belonged to a mass transit company. Same caterpillars were used to cut off the road, rendering it impassable from either end.
 
 
Passengers in the hundreds were abused, some tortured, asked to lay flat on their bellies on a muddy road soaked by rains that had been pouring most of the day. A driver of one of the buses was shot deadat the scene for alleglly resisting instructions from the forces that carried out the operation. After usingthe caterpillars to scorch all but one of the buses, before cutting off the road, they were then set on fireto the bewilderment of all at the scene.
 
WHO DID IT?
 
French Cameroun’s Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma has said that Ambazonian Restoration Forces (RF) initiated and carried out the attacks. But so far, they haven’t been able to prove that indeed the vandals were RF of Ambazonia. In the absence of such evidence as to who carried out the act, here is what the Interim Government (IG) of Ambazonia has found out. Facts we have gathered from our own investigations point to impeccable evidence that the thugs who cut off the road, brutalized and killed people and reduced to junk, mass transit buses, were French Cameroun soldiers, disguised as Ambazonia Restoration Forces.
 
 
First, the Caterpillars used for the wreckage belonged to a road construction company called SATOM. SATOM, we have learned was carrying out repairs on the stretch of road and they had finished work for the day and parked their equipment there. For somebody to have been able to operate their equipment, the person must have been in possession of the keys to turn on the transmission.Restoration Forces were not in possession of the keys and had no way of getting access to them. SATOM has as of this moment not reported any of the keys to the equipment missing. They know who they handed their keys to. Even if the restoration forces had the keys, their ability to operate and manipulate such heavy equipment without prerequisite training would still be in question. It would take a trained Caterpillar operator to manipulate it to take down the roof of a high rise 70 sitter bus.The facts point to the conclusion that there must have been a conspiracy between SATOM and some other party to carry out the act using their caterpillars.
 
But this isn’t all of it. The incident occurred in Akum; Akum is located only a few kilometers from Upstaion Bamenda and Santa, another urban centre. Leaving Akum to Bamenda Upstation, there is one of Bamenda’s tightest security post even before you get to Upstation. There is also a Police post in Santa. How does anyone explain the fact that this incident went on for hours and no security showed up in spite of the fact that most of the pedestrians called for help ever before their phones were confiscated by the thugs? If the perpetrators were indeed Restoration Forces of the Southern Cameroons, Ambazonia as Issa Tchiroma would want the world to believe, how come they happily returned the phones seized from the pedestrians?
 
 
For the record, Ambazonia RF do not torture people, not especially when those people are Ambazonians. That the people were forced to sleep and roll in mud under the rain is characteristic of French Cameroun soldiers’ comportment. Throughout this revolution, footage upon footage of videos have emerged of French Cameroun soldiers having Ambazonians rolling and swimming in dirty mud water with impunity. What happened in Akum wasn’t new to those who have seen such savagery from the soldiers recently.
 
It is a thing of public knowledge that Ambazonian RF have called for the shutting down of movement within Ambazonia beginning September 16th. What would have been their motivation to cut off the road before September 16th? Paul Biya’s regime continues to get desperate by the day in its campaign to portray Ambazonians as terrorists. In the past week, they declared schools resumption but went around our counties rounding up students they call terrorists and arresting their principals. Some of the students and principals died in custody. All in calculated efforts to blackmail the restoration movement of the Southern Cameroons, Ambazonia.
 
The Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia condemns these kinds of schemed cruelty in our territory in the strongest of terms. Since they declared war on Ambazonians, theyc ontinue to make daily living a hell on Southern Cameroonians, hoping that by so doing, they did break our resolve to defend our freedom and independence. They plan an illegal election in our territory, and they think they can intimidate our people to participating in the vote. These ploys won’t work. The Southern Cameroons would continue to vehemently assert her sovereignty and will continue to consider any forms of attacks on our people and territory as acts of terrorism by French Cameroun and its invading soldiers.
 
The United Nations and the International Community are in the position to step in to mitigate the maiming and genocide that has been ongoing in Cameroon for two years, but they have chosen to pay a blind eye. 200,000 people according to UN own’s stats, have flown genocide into the bushes,170,000 others live as refugees in Nigeria, 6000 killed, and 3000 in jail, including leaders of Ambazonia Interim Government. It is high time the international community and international media pay attention to this escalating conflict. The Southern Cameroons, Ambazonia will “live free or die.” 
 
 
Chris Anu
Communications Secretary
Federal Republic of Ambazonia
"Anglophone Crisis" in Cameroon was Decades in the Making

 

Blog Post by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Council on Foreign Relations

August 16, 2018

Nolan Quinn is the Africa program intern at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He is a master of public policy student at the University of Maryland, where he is studying international development policy and international security and economic policy.

The anglophone crisis in southwestern Cameroon is getting worse, and outside observers are beginning to notice. According to Amnesty International, “alarm bells are ringing” in Congress over Cameroon, and on July 31, Karen Pierce, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, tweeted that there is “lots of interest” in the crisis among UN representatives in New York. Such interest will likely result in greater foreign involvement. External actors should recognize the current crisis was not inevitable, but rather the result of decades of concerted efforts by the regime in Yaoundé to marginalize the anglophone regions.

After allied forces captured “Kamerun” from Germany in World War I, the League of Nations divided the territory between the British and the French. Most of the territory became French Cameroun, while a strip bordering Nigeria became the British Cameroons. The British Cameroons, governed from—but not considered part of—Nigeria, were split into northern and southern administrative units. In 1960, francophone Cameroon and Nigeria became independent, prompting the UN to organize a plebiscite allowing anglophone Cameroonians to decide whether to integrate with Nigeria or Cameroon. Independence, the most favored outcome, was not an option. Northern Cameroons joined Nigeria, while Southern Cameroons opted for reunification with Cameroon.

The constitution of the newly-established Federal Republic of Cameroon guaranteed respect for the cultural identity of the anglophone regions. But, in 1966, President Ahmadou Ahidjo banned all political parties other than the ruling Cameroonian National Union (the ban has since been lifted). In May 1972, a national referendum approved a new constitution that replaced the government’s federal structure with a unitary system. The referendum, which government records claim 99.9 percent of voters supported with 98.2 percent turnout, went against a 1961 agreement that “proposals for revision [of the constitution] shall be adopted by simple majority vote of the members of the Federal Assembly, provided that such majority includes a majority of the representatives…of each of the Federated States.” In 1984, President Paul Biya renamed the country the Republic of Cameroon—the name it held prior to reunification in 1961—and changed the national flag from a two-star design, which had signified the union of the anglophone and francophone regions, to that of a single star.

Biya’s affront to the anglophone region proved the breaking point in relations with the central government. On March 20, 1985, Fon Gorji Dinka, an anglophone lawyer and the first president of the Cameroon Bar Association, denounced the government’s actions as unconstitutional and called for an independent anglophone entity known as the Republic of Ambazonia; Dinka was arrested and imprisoned for nearly a year without trial. Today, little has changed. Biya remains in power, the government represses the anglophone minority’s identity, and separatists long for an independent Ambazonia. However, after nearly a year of protests over the use of French in anglophone schools and courts, the “anglophone problem” erupted.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes and refuse to talk to each other. Separatists do not trust the government after it violated previous agreements, while Biya said that his “government is open to dialogue only as far as the unity and diversity of our country are not questioned.” This seems particularly tone deaf given the Yaoundé regime’s history of undermining the country’s “unity and diversity.” The United States has a number of tools at its disposal to encourage talks, such as making aid conditional upon prosecution of human rights abusers, as the Senate report [PDF] on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019 suggests. But if and when talks begin, outside mediators and negotiators should place today’s crisis in the context of Yaoundé’s historical approach to the anglophone minority.
Washington Image Upgrade Worth $100,000 a Month for Cameroon

 

By Megan Wilson | August 13, 2018 12:46PM ET
Bloomberg Government
https://about.bgov.com/blog/washington-image-upgrade/

Cameroon, an African country where the government has been accused of torture and murder, has inked a seven-figure contract with Mercury Public Affairs.The Washington, D.C.-based firm will be paid $100,000 a month for “strategic consulting and management services, government relations/lobbying, and media issues management” until the end of July 2019, according to a disclosure report required under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.The firm was hired about a month after a House subcommittee held a hearing to examine human rights abuses and what the panel’s chairman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), described as “an emerging crisis.”The contract is vague about exactly what the firm will be doing. It is also unclear who at Mercury is working on the account; the firm has until Friday to submit those forms. Foreign lobbying disclosures related to new clients are due within 10 days of a contract being signed.The U.S. has roughly 100 troops in Cameroon to train and advise its military on combating Boko Haram and other extremist groups.According to the State Department’s most recent human rights report, child labor is rampant in Cameroon; rape is rarely prosecuted; and government agents have attacked journalists for their reporting.Both civilians and armed separatist militias have been clashing with government security forces in French and English-speaking parts of the country. Organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have obtained videos showing government forces firing into crowds of demonstrators.

After Amnesty International posted a video of security forces killing a woman and two children, the State Department issued a statement July 16 calling on Cameroon’s government “to investigate thoroughly and transparently the events depicted in the video, make its findings public, and if Cameroonian military personnel were involved in this atrocity, hold them accountable.” 

Despite the cooperation with the U.S. over combating Boko Haram, “they have a much bigger image problem” because of the crackdown on what’s known as Cameroon’s Anglophone region, said Ed Hogendoorn, the Crisis Group’s Africa deputy program director.

Potentially at stake, he said, are “the stability of the country” and the entire region.

“That’s the unfortunate thing, you have a U.S. government with a couple of different competing objectives in Cameroon,” said Adotei Akwei, the Africa advocacy director for Amnesty International USA.

WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Senate spending bill that covers the State Department in fiscal 2019 (S. 3108) would set aside $5 million in aid for Cameroon.

Senators tied that cash to a demand that Cameroon investigate and punish government personnel “who are credibly alleged to have committed, ordered, or covered up gross violations of human rights, including against Cameroonian citizens and refugees in the Far North and Anglophone regions of Cameroon,” according to the committee report.

The bill would require Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Congress a month after enactment of the appropriation to update lawmakers on the investigations before deciding whether aid should be given. The House, however, has no Cameroon-specific language in its companion legislation (H.R. 6385) and instead lumps foreign aid to a group of countries in the region.

“Cameroon is now on everybody’s radar,” said Akwei. “Alarm bells are ringing.”

In addition to Mercury, Cameroon had Squire Patton Boggs on retainer since 2004, Justice Department disclosures show. That contract also has been for $100,000 per month, though recent reports show the bills have been only partially paid.

Squire Patton Boggs disclosed that, over the last six months, it has advised Cameroon on activity in Congress plus “administration nominations and appointments.”

In January, its lobbyists met with Navarro Moore, the special assistant in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, according to disclosures. There are no details about what was discussed beyond “U.S.-Cameroon bilateral relations.”

A presidential election is set for Oct. 7, and President Paul Biya — who has led the country for 35 years — is running for another term.

With assistance from Jack Fitzpatrick
Cameroon’s "Anglophone Crisis": History’s ripple effects

 

By Shakila Kamatali
Published August 04, 2018 on The New Times, Rwanda's Leading Daily

On the surface of what has been dubbed the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon, one would think it is simply a clash of two cultures and languages in the bilingual nation, but it goes deeper and farther back than that.

Since late 2016, Cameroon has faced an increasingly violent uprising in the bilingual country’s minority Anglophone regions, where English speakers say they have been marginalised by the government, which is led and dominated by a French-speaking majority. The current dispute can be traced back to a colonial legacy.

At the end of World War I, the League of Nations divided the German colony of Kamerun between France and Britain. In 1960, French Cameroun gained independence and became Cameroun Republic.

Later that year the British-controlled southern Cameroon was then separated from Nigeria and was due to achieve full independence. But at the last minute the United Nations gave the southern Cameroonians the choice between joining the Cameroun Republic or Nigeria.

This vote was prompted by a British report that insisted its former territory would not survive economically on its own. The southern Cameroonians opted to unite in a new federation with Cameroun Republic.

It was supposed to be a partnership of equals, a notion reinforced by bilateral negotiations that had started before the vote, but the general view later on was that the delegation from the Cameroun Republic, accompanied by French advisers, got virtually everything they wanted while the Anglophones, who received none of the support promised by the British or the UN, were effectively sidelined.

Unification left Anglophones with a sense that their territory was in economic decline, because it entailed the centralisation and dismantling of West Cameroon’s economic structures. Successive regimes further centralised systems in the country, and imposed cultural assimilation which went against prior terms of unification.

Fast forward to the current crisis, and the “Anglophone problem” resurged in October 2016 when lawyers went on a strike in an effort to force the government to stop appointing Francophone magistrates who spoke no English and had no training in common law to preside over courts in the Anglophone regions.

While the march mobilised by the lawyers was peaceful, police forces violently dispersed the crowd, and manhandled some lawyers. Teachers soon came out in support of the lawyers, and university students joined the rallies leading to violent clashes with police and army as the government’s response was to militarise the region.

The current crisis has increased support for a return to the 1961 federation and power-sharing agreement among the Anglophone population, and reinforced support for secessionism among others. In light of the upcoming October elections, President Paul Biya, who is 85 and in power since 1982, has to contend with the need for change that is sweeping across the nation.

It is difficult to imagine a credible dialogue to calm the tensions unless the government takes conciliatory measures, unlike before, and sets out institutional reforms that decentralise the country.

Also a firmer response from the international community, such as the African Union, could help to avoid the conflict from deteriorating into Africa’s next civil war.

The crisis has revealed the gap between the concerns of the Anglophone and Francophone population, as well as a disparity between the elites and common folk, especially as Francophones share some Anglophone grievances.

 

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