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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Anglophone Crisis: Paul Biya now wants to collaborate with the UN

While the Cameroonian authorities continue to set up a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration committee for pro-secessionist armed groups, the violence continues in the English-speaking regions. If the government wants to believe in its initiative, the voluntary deposit of weapons seems difficult.

Just days after his announcement, President Paul Biya continued to deploy men who will disarm "Boko Haram ex-combatants" and "pro-secessionist armed groups" operating in English-speaking areas. After the creation of the National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (CNDDR) on November 30, the Cameroonian President also designated on December 4 Fai Yengo Francis as coordinator of the national disarmament program, which should be operational soon.

The main mission of this former governor of the Littoral region will be the management of the initiative on the ground. The civil cabinet of the presidency presented the latter as the logical continuation of the "offer of peace formulated by the Cameroonian president in his inaugural speech" of 6 November.However, a task that promises to be difficult for the native of the North West region, as the signs of a voluntary deposit of weapons seem unlikely to be on the side of secessionists.

Clashes after the creation of the CNDDR

Twenty-four hours after the creation of the CNDDR, violent clashes erupted between secessionist militias and soldiers of the Cameroonian army in the South-West region. According to local sources, traffic on the road connecting the cities of Buea and Kumba remained paralyzed from 1 to 2 December due to the fighting. Gunshots were also heard in Ekona, Muea and Muyuka, and military reinforcements had to be deployed to reopen the road that had been temporarily blocked by the separatists.

On the social networks, many pro-secessionist activists have welcomed what they see as "a snub to the new measure of President Paul Biya."Ambazonian soldiers have snubbed Paul Biya's foolish decree on disarmament by conducting several field battles," activist Mark Bareta commented on his Facebook account.

"Mr Biya has no right to ask for the disarmament of our soldiers. I call the Ambazonians of the interior and the diaspora to arm themselves to the teeth and make Ambazonia a serious competitor, "said Lucas Ayaba Cho, leader of Ambazonia defense forces, one of the factions armies fighting in English-speaking areas.

Basic conditions not well met?

The timing of the action by the government was not conducive, according to security expert Joseph Lea Ngoula."DDR must be something that both conflicting actors agree on. We need to find a way to bring them closer together, negotiate a ceasefire, and even a peace agreement like that was the case in countries that have also experienced separatist rebellions. This basic condition and others are not met, which leaves doubts about the effectiveness of this act, "he analyzes.

An opinion rejected by relatives close to power, who insist on the ability of the CNDDR to contribute to the end of the conflict. "It is quite normal for this structure to be ready before any further action in the government's long-standing dialogue process. It is not possible to agree on disarmament before even thinking about where these weapons will be stored. It takes a little patience, the authorities know what they do, "analyzes a senior executive of the administration.

Involvement of international bodies?

In the national opinion, voices demanding the intervention of an intermediate force were heard. In an interview with Jeune Afrique on November 27, former president Mere Akere Muna called for the intervention of a "buffer force", which could intervene between the two parties in conflict.

"International bodies will play a crucial role," said Joseph Lea Ngoula. Whether it is the UN agencies or the traditional bilateral partners of Cameroon, we will first need their financial assistance because the DDR operations are extremely expensive. Their expertise will also be needed and they will have to give some legitimacy to the process so that the actors who adhere to it will be put in trust ".

The idea is not ruled out by the authorities of Yaounde, who nevertheless indicate that any involvement of an external party should be under the control of the national disarmament committee. "The committee cooperates as needed with NGOs and national and international partners, including the UN," said Paul Biya in the decree creating the CNDDR.

The Cameroonian government is confident of the success of this operation, and the proof of this is the success of the pilot phase deployed a few months ago in the Far-North region, which allowed for the conversion of several dozen former Boko Haram fighters.