Southern Cameroon Armed Conflict: Blaming, Boasting and Blocking
A civil conflict like the Anglophone conflicts, once blown off, it is often characterized and escalated by the blame game. We have witnessed so many exchanges of blames. The Ambazonians blame the government forces forces for burning villages, killing innocent civilians, rape, illegal abduction of civilians and their leaders etc. The government blame the Ambazonians for terrorizing civilians, kidnappings and ransom taking, burning of schools, killing of soldiers and attempt to separate the country etc. Both sides refer to each other as terrorists. In this exchange of blames, the victims are the civilians.
When children were kidnapped from PSS Bafut, the military said it was done by Ambazonians and the Ambazonians said it was carried out by the military. When an American missionary was killed in Bambili, the governement was quick to say it was done by Ambazonians and the Ambazonians affirm with authority that it was carried out by the lrp military. Now a hospital was set ablaze and the minister of communication was quick to issue a statement saying with authority without proof that it was done by Separatists while the Secretary for communication of the Ambazonian government issued his own statement blaming the government forces for the act with some videos that seem like unconfirmed evident circulating on social media. With the blame game going on the atrocities only increase since no one will actually take the responsibility and punishment and hence dialogue becomes difficult.
In the event of a civil conflict, parties involved often engage in the fight with a determination on both side to win or defeat the ‘enemy’. This often leads to some show of power and prowess in the course of the crises in the form of boasting.
“Oyee we have killed general Ivo, Oyeee we have killed 23 secessionists, Oyee we have dismantle five camps, drop your weapons or I will crush you” These are some of the boasting we see on recorded videos by the government forces .
“Oyee we have killed general Bouba, Oyee we have killed dozens of lrp terrorist, Oyee we have sent five lrp terrorists to hell” these are some of the boasting of the Ambazonian fighters.
These acts of boasting swells their ego and raises the expectation from supporters with each party seeking to appear powerful and credible in the eyes of their followers hence making dialogue very difficult as they see sitting for dialogue as a sign of weakness.
There is a big blockage caused by the above two powerful ego elements. Each party feels so powerful and determined not to give up. They consider dialogue as a sign of weakness. President Paul Biya may be thinking that if he calls the secessionists for dialogue it means he has failed to crush them as promised and this is about ego not about reason. The Ambazonian leaders maybe thinking that asking their soldiers to drop their weapons will be sign of surrender and dialogue with lrp may even be a way of giving up the fight for restoration. That could be an ego issue too and maybe erroneous to an extent.
How then can we overcome these 3Bs (Blaming, boasting, blockage)?
Proposed Solution to both Sides: Four things for ALL
To end a civil Conflict, parties involved must be ready to dialogue. Being ready to go in for a dialogue also means being prepared to make concessions. If you are not ready for concessions, then you are not ready for dialogue. Also no one should negotiate with fear or should fear to negotiate.
To President Paul Biya:
1. Call for dialogue with the Ambazonian leaders. Free the Leaders in jail, invite Dr Sako and his aids on a special and security assured trip for the dialogue meeting.
2. Withdraw all your troops from the North West and South West regions and all refugees and internally displaced people will return to the land of their birth.
3. Grant Amnesty to all political victims and activists involved in the Anglophone crises so they can feel free to come home.
4. Then on the dialogue table, bring federation as your suggestion and other offers.
This is not in any way a sign of weakness on your side but a sign of greatness and proof of someone who wants to safe his country from collapse.
To Sissiko and Sako (Leaders of Ambazonia)
1. Ask your fighters to drop their weapons and return home
2. Stop all forms of fighting or intimidation of those who do not buy the idea of separation
3. Ask all Ambazonians to keep an open mind to the outcome of the dialogue and should not be fixed on one idea alone but should listen to the other offers.
4. Then on the dialogue table, bring referendum as your offer. Asked for a referendum to be organized so that people of the North West and South West should decide whether to stay in the union or the quit. Again, remain open during the dialogue while holding a second option if you can think of any.
The UN & AU
1 Be present and mediate during this dialogue.
2 Consider that each of these parties may bring in these two difficult offers.
3 Be prepared for a deadlock. Seek for suggestions on how to break the deadlock if it occurs and also be ready to reschedule another meeting because such difficult dialogue session may not bring out a best solution on the first seating.
4 Also think about the peace process and prosecution of victims of the atrocities caused during the crises (but this should be a process and takes time. Not an immediate action)
To all citizens and activists of Southern Cameroon
1. Be prepared to accept the outcome of the dialogue when agreed by both parties.
2. Return to your normal activities and the government and other humanitarian organizations should put in place a reconstruction plan for all damages caused.
3. Do not revenge on any one you know who masterminded any pain you have suffered even if you know them.
4. Be ready to forgive
WHO SHOULD START? Answer: Paul Biya.
Advise to both sides: DO NOT COUNT CORPSES !!
And may be Peace.
Obama Foundation Scholar
Columbia University of New York