Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Cameroon: Here is the full speech of the Head of State as delivered this Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"I have decided to convene, at the end of this month, a major national dialogue that will allow us, under our Constitution, to examine ways and means to respond to the deep aspirations of the people of the Northwest and Southwest, but also of all the other components of our Nation.The dialogue in question will mainly concern the situation in the North-West and South-West regions, but it is obvious that will touch on issues of national interest, such as national unity, national integration, coexistence, it can not only interest the populations of these two regions, so it will aim to bring together, without exclusion, girls and the sons of our dear and beautiful country, Cameroon, around values ​​that are dear to us: peace, security, national harmony and progress "says Paul Biya

Below, the Dsicours of September 10, 2019

Cameroonians, Cameroonians,

My dear compatriots,

For almost three years now, the northwestern and southwestern regions of our country have been in crisis, which is endangering the safety and well-being of the people who live there, but it also has profound consequences. on the entire national community.

This crisis, it should be remembered, arose from the corporatist demands of Lawyers and Teachers, who demanded the translation into English of the OHADA Uniform Acts and the preservation of the specificity of the judicial system and the Anglo-Saxon educational system in both countries. regions.

From the beginning, faithful to an option that is dear to my heart, I have been instructing the establishment of a dialogue between the Government and the trade unions with a view to finding appropriate answers to these demands. The measures taken by the Government following these consultations went well beyond the initial demands. Allow me to list a few:

- the English translation of the OHADA texts was carried out. These texts are now available in our two official languages;

- a Common Law Section has been established in the Supreme Court to hear appeals against decisions of lower courts in Common Law cases;

- At the level of the formation of Magistrates, a Section of the Common Law was created at the National School of Administration and Magistracy. This measure was accompanied by a program of recruitment of Court Hearers and English-speaking Clerks;

- in addition, a special recruitment of Bilingual Teachers has been implemented in Secondary Education;

- at the judicial level, a stay of proceedings has been ordered in favor of certain persons arrested in connection with these claims;

- A National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism was created, in particular to examine in depth all the sources of frustration of our compatriots in the North West and South West regions.

Subsequently, decisions were made to accelerate the decentralization process, with the addition of a dedicated Ministry. The next regional elections will serve to complete this process, allowing our compatriots, throughout the national territory, to fully participate in the management of their affairs at the local level.

My dear compatriots,

Despite these efforts of the Government, radical movements, mainly inspired from abroad, have recovered and misrepresented corporatist claims. They thus hatched a secessionist project with the aim of partitioning our country. To this end, they have formed and financed armed groups that have caused great damage to the populations of the North West and South West regions.

The entire world has witnessed the atrocities committed by these armed groups: mutilations, beheadings, assassinations of the elements of the Defense and Security Forces, administrative authorities and defenseless civilians, destruction of infrastructure and public buildings, fire of schools, hospitals, etc.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my sincerest condolences and those of the entire nation to all those who have lost loved ones in this crisis. I also send a message of comfort to the wounded and all the other victims in various ways. I assure them that they can count on the solidarity of the Government of the Republic and that of the nation as a whole.

My dear compatriots,

The atrocities of the armed groups have pushed thousands of our compatriots to take refuge in the other regions of the country, even, for some, in neighboring countries where they are reduced to precariousness.

Faced with these intolerable acts, the Defense and Security Forces have taken drastic measures, often at great risk to their lives, to ensure their duty to protect citizens and their property.

At present, these measures are beginning to bear fruit with the improvement of security and the gradual recovery of economic activities in both regions.

My dear compatriots,

Since the onset of this crisis, I have spared no effort, with the help of Cameroonians and Cameroonians of goodwill, to seek ways and means for a peaceful resolution of it.

For the sake of appeasement, I even decided to stop the prosecution pending before the military courts against 289 people arrested for crimes committed in the context of this crisis.

In the same vein, I made an offer of peace to members of armed groups, inviting them to lay down their arms and benefit from a process of reintegration into society. To this end, a National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration has been created. The Regional Disarmament Centers are gradually welcoming many ex-combatants who voluntarily agree to lay down their arms. We will continue to make the necessary efforts to make this process fully operational.

At the humanitarian level, I decided to launch a vast assistance plan for our compatriots in the North West and South West. I also created a Humanitarian Coordination Center to implement the plan. In this regard, I would like to say thank you to the international partners who are accompanying us in this initiative.

My dear compatriots,

To explain this crisis, it has often been evoked a sense of marginalization experienced by the populations of North West and South West. I would like to say in this respect to our countrymen in these regions, but also to those of the other eight regions of Cameroon, that marginalization, exclusion or stigmatization have never inspired the action of the various governments that I have formed. since my accession to the supreme magistracy of our country. Certainly, no human work is perfect and in a developing country such as ours, faced with multiple challenges and limited resources, many needs remain unfulfilled in all regions.

With the overwhelming support you have given me in the last presidential election, I will continue to work tirelessly, with all the girls and boys of our country, to meet the many challenges we face in improving the welfare of our people. be our people, especially in terms of infrastructure, water and electricity supply, health coverage and youth employment.

My dear compatriots,

On January 4, I made a major cabinet reshuffle, including the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Head of Government. The choice of these leaders has, as usual, been mainly guided by their human and professional qualities, their skills and their experience. However, I would like to stress that, in keeping with the regional balance policy that I have continued to promote, I have chosen a Prime Minister from the South West region. His predecessor, who spent nearly 10 years in this key position, was from the Northwest region. In fact, since 9 April 1992, the Prime Ministers, Heads of Government, have been chosen from among the nationals of these two regions.

Despite this, some will continue to talk about the marginalization of the populations of these regions. In fact, it should be recognized, in general, that human nature is so made that there will never be enough positions of responsibility to satisfy all the regions, all the departments, the districts, the cities, villages, families and citizens of our country. Each choice will continue to bring joy when we are distinguished and sadness when we are not.

It is essential, however, that our mentalities evolve on this point. If it is necessary to take into account the regional balance in new countries, with the diverse sociological structuring such as ours, it is essential to recall that the Ministers and other leaders are not appointed only to serve their regions, their villages or their families, but the entire national community. They must serve the general interest and not special interests.

That is why, since I came to power, I have not stopped and I will continue to fight hard against corruption and misappropriation of public funds and to promote good governance.

My dear compatriots,

Since the onset of the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions, the term dialogue has never been mentioned so much, pronounced or even overused.

Internally and internationally, everyone has gone through their proposals and suggestions. Some of them realistic, others much less. The councils flocked. Some wise, others interested. Some even risked injunctions.

Multiple and diverse initiatives have also flourished. Most of them are from people of good faith, from countries or organizations that are truly concerned about the future of our country and the well-being of our people. I would like to thank them for their efforts and their expressions of friendship.

It should be noted, however, that the proliferation of these initiatives has at times been based on simplistic and false ideas, stemming from secessionist propaganda. This is the case of the alleged marginalization of Anglophones, the persecution of the English-speaking minority by the French-speaking majority, the refusal of the dialogue by our Government for the benefit of a military solution to the crisis or the ridiculous accusations of genocide.

As far as the dialogue itself is concerned, the question has always been to know, With whom?

The new information and communication technologies and especially social networks have unfortunately favored the emergence of self-proclaimed leaders, extremists of all stripes trying to establish their notoriety through insults, threats, calls for hatred, violence and murder.

However, killing gendarmes or civilians, kidnapping, mutilating, molesting, torching, destroying public infrastructures, preventing children from going to school, or people quietly going about their business has never been, in any country in the world, a source of legitimacy to represent or express itself in the name of the populations precisely victims of these abuses.

In a democracy, only the election confers such legitimacy.

My dear compatriots,

The many consultations that I have continued to make about this crisis have allowed me to appreciate the ardent desire of the populations of the North-West and South-West regions to return to the normal course of their lives. lives, to be able again, safely, to carry out their economic and social activities, to see refugees and displaced persons return and children to return to school. The recent tour of the Prime Minister in both regions has confirmed this sentiment.

I firmly believe in this regard that the time has come to mobilize all the positive and constructive forces of our country, both inside and outside the diaspora, to make this desire a reality.

That is why I decided to convene, as of the end of the current month, a major national dialogue that will allow us, within the framework of our Constitution, to examine ways and means to respond to the profound aspirations of the people of the country. North West and South West, but also of all the other components of our Nation.

The dialogue in question will focus on the situation in the North West and South West regions. But it is obvious that in that it will touch on issues of national interest, such as national unity, national integration, living together, it can not interest only the populations of these two regions.

It will therefore aim to bring together, without exception, the girls and sons of our dear and beautiful country, Cameroon, around values ​​that are dear to us: peace, security, national harmony and progress.

It will also focus on themes likely to provide answers to the concerns of the populations of North West and South West, as well as those of other regions of our country: bilingualism, cultural diversity and social cohesion , reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the education and judicial system, decentralization and local development, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, the role of the diaspora in the development of the country, etc.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, this dialogue will bring together a diverse range of personalities: parliamentarians, politicians, opinion leaders, intellectuals, economic operators, traditional authorities, religious authorities, members of the diaspora, etc. Representatives of the Defense and Security Forces, armed groups and victims will also be invited.

Not everyone will be able to participate in this dialogue, but everyone will have the opportunity to contribute.

Prior to the effective holding of the dialogue, the Prime Minister, Head of Government, will consult widely, in order to collect the most diverse opinions, which will serve as sources of inspiration for the conduct of the debates. Delegations will also be sent in the coming days to meet the diaspora, to enable it to contribute to these reflections on the resolution of the crisis.

In this respect, I would like to appeal to the patriotism and sense of responsibility of all our compatriots from within and from the diaspora to ensure that everyone, wherever they are, seize this historic opportunity to help lead our country on the roads. peace, concord, security and progress.  

My dear compatriots,

The propaganda of the secessionists wanted to present the recent court rulings against a number of our compatriots, in the context of this crisis, as an obstacle to the dialogue envisaged.

It is not so. I would like to take the opportunity to point out that respect for the rule of law and the fight against impunity are the pillars of the consolidation of the rule of law, which we all aspire to. Throwing the rule of law underfoot and ensuring impunity for certain citizens would lead to preparing the bed of anarchy.

It is therefore fundamental, at this stage, to dispel rumors that one can quietly plunder, rape, burn, kidnap, mutilate, murder, in the hope that a possible dialogue will erase all these crimes and ensure impunity for their perpetrators.

Such a way of thinking can only encourage the perpetuation of violence in the regions in crisis and even arouse in regions where there are none, as the experience of several countries in world.

It is true, however, that in the context of a dialogue, a peace process or national reconciliation, the possibility of forgiveness under certain conditions can be envisaged.

It is equally true that under our Constitution, the Head of State is entitled to use a right of mercy.

It is indeed a strength of this empowerment that I addressed, during my recent oath, an offer of peace to members of armed groups.

I would solemnly reiterate this offer today. Those who voluntarily lay down their arms and put themselves at the disposal of the DDR centers have nothing to fear. Their comrades who are already there can testify. On the other hand, those who persist in committing criminal acts and violating the laws of the Republic, will face our Defense and Security Forces and will suffer all the rigor of these same laws. The same is true of hate and violence promoters who, comfortably and with impunity in foreign countries, continue to incite murder and destruction. Let them know that they will sooner or later be accountable to Justice.

I am calling on the countries that shelter these extremists. If they really care about the situation of the people in North West and Southwest, act against these criminals. Most of them are no longer Cameroonian citizens, but they spend their time raising money to carry out terrorist acts in Cameroon, to sponsor fires, kidnappings and assassinations and to launch slogans to prevent children from dying. 'go to school and the citizens to quietly go about their business.

My dear compatriots,

The entire national community has great hopes for the foundations I have just announced. She hopes to see the opportunity for our brothers and sisters in the North West and South West to turn this particularly painful page, to forget their suffering and to return to a normal life. It also hopes to see our country resolutely continue its progress towards progress, thanks to a fruitful reflection on ways and means to create the conditions for optimal exploitation of natural resources and the tremendous human potential that our country has. We must all work for their success.

My dear compatriots,

Over time, we have taken advantage of our tremendous linguistic and cultural diversity, the talent of our daughters and sons, our worthy efforts and sacrifices, to build a strong country and a strong Nation. Together we have met many challenges and won countless victories. We have proved that when we are united, there is no difficulty that we can not overcome, obstacles that we can not overcome. We proved it yesterday. We will prove it again today and tomorrow. The future of our compatriots in the North West and South West lies within our Republic.

Cameroon will remain one and indivisible.

Long live Cameroon!

Compiled by CIN