Thursday, June 27, 2019

Socio-political crisis: Switzerland now confirms its mediation

Swiss diplomacy is working as a facilitator for a solution to the current crisis in parts of Cameroon. A second discussion with opposition groups took place this week in Switzerland to prepare peace talks with the government.

Switzerland "is working to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in northwestern and southwestern Cameroon", in collaboration with the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) in Geneva, said Thursday the Department Federal Foreign Office (FDFA). Very discreet, the Geneva institution of private diplomacy, which would have steered the meeting, hardly ever comment on the actions it frames.

Switzerland has been mandated by a majority of parties to facilitate an inclusive negotiating process as the country faces a crisis of violence between the military and some separatist movements. According to the UN, they have more than 530,000 displaced in a few months.

In Switzerland, the preparatory meeting from Tuesday to Thursday with various Cameroonian opposition groups was the second. The FDFA does not indicate the location of these discussions, nor the date of the first meeting. In order not to jeopardize the process, he also does not comment on the content of ongoing facilitation efforts.


According to convergent indications relayed by separatist political activists in western Cameroon, the meeting would have taken place in Geneva. It reportedly gathered separatist representatives of leaders Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and Samuel Sako and movements of the National Council of Southern Cameroon (SCLC), the Congress of the People of Southern Cameroon (SCOOP) and the People's Organization of Southern Cameroon ( SCAPO).

A component of the SCLC refused to travel. An activist mentioned the "inability" of the HD center to apply "fair rules".

For its part, the FDFA adds "with concern the persistent violence in the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon, which particularly affect the civilian population".

In addition to separatism, the country must also deal with the attacks. On June 12, Cameroon experienced in Darak (north) one of the deadliest attacks in recent months led by the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram. This resulted in a total of 37 casualties, 21 soldiers and 16 civilians, according to security sources.Although weakened, Boko Haram remains very active in the Far North region of Cameroon, bordering Nigeria.

Incident in Geneva 

For other reasons, tensions in Cameroon are felt as far as Switzerland. Forty Cameroonian opponents on Tuesday forced the entrance of the Intercontinental hotel in Geneva where President Paul Biya is currently staying. The Tribune de Genève reported a "clash" between protesters and members of the presidential security.

A demonstration is scheduled for Saturday in Geneva. Cameroonians exiled in various European countries are called to protest against the presence of the head of state, who is 86 years old and who has been in charge of Cameroon since 1982. Opponents regularly target the president's travels, which has been observed several times in Switzerland.