Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dialogue: baffled, secessionists increase attacks

New violence has erupted in Cameroon as more and more there is a national dialogue called by President Paul Biya to end the conflict that has killed at least 2,000 people in English-speaking areas of the country. Dozens of people have been killed in recent days and electricity has been cut off, mainly in English-speaking cities, when attackers set fire to distribution equipment.The army was deployed to replace the teachers who, once again, fled to safer places.

Godfred Metuge, 45, responded to the Cameroonian government's call to return to teach in the English city of Mamfe in south-west England when the school year began on 2 September. Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon.

"It's because of the insecurity there. I was traumatized, "he said. "My children have been traumatized and many people, traumatized, have gone into serious and serious depression, some of which have even died."

According to Metuge, violent attacks by separatist fighters intensified when Cameroonian President Paul Biya announced on 10 September that he was convening a national dialogue to resolve the crisis in the English-speaking regions, without, however, releasing separatist leader Ayuk Tabe and his 10 employees.sentenced to life imprisonment by a Yaoundé military court.

47-year-old shopkeeper Etienne Mbaku, who also fled the English-speaking town of Ndop in the north-west of the country, says the violence since Sept. 10, when Biya called for a national dialogue, will cease if the president frees the separatist leaders.

"What I think should be added before the dialogue is that he should personally grant a general amnesty to the detainees in order to calm the angry people so that they can participate in the dialogue," he said. he declares.

Military reports intensified in the English-speaking cities of northwestern Kumbo, Ndop, Bamenda, Bafut, Kom, Mbengwi, Bambui and the towns of Buea, Kumba, Mamfe, Eyumujock and Mutengene southwest. The new violence has killed about 25 people in the past two weeks.

Electricity supply has been interrupted in many cities in the north-west of the country after separatist fighters have cut down and burned high-voltage cables and electrical equipment. They also destroyed nine schools, blocked several roads in English-speaking areas, and detonated tankers carrying fuel in English-speaking cities.

The army said it deployed troops to protect civilians and their property.

Colonel Sone Joseph Ajang, director of administrative and regulatory affairs at the Cameroon Ministry of Defense, said that teachers, who are also soldiers, are also deployed in the schools hardest hit by the violence.

"Their role is to teach and ensure safety around the school," he said. "We want to make a change by giving firm principals instructions to draw the attention of the hierarchy to absent teachers who are military, because the absent teachers jeopardize the future of our children. have under their duty. ensure that education is sent to them. "

The governor of the southwestern region of Cameroon, Bernard Okalia Bilai, talks to a trader during a visit to a ruined market in Limbe, Cameroon, on April 3, 2017. SPECIAL REPORT

- The governor of the region of southwestern Cameroon, Bernard Okalia Bilai, talks to a trader during a visit to a ruined market in Limbe, Cameroon, on April 3, 2017.

Bernard Okalia Bilai, Governor of the English-speaking region of South-West Cameroon, said the fighters should give up their weapons and be confident that the dialogue will address the issues they raised.

"I call [the fighters] to give up," he said. "Our kids are not going to school for three years. Please, those who prevent children can stop. Can those who are destroying the economy because they want the dialogue to end so that we can talk now and come back with peace. "

As violence continues, Cameroon's Prime Minister Dion Ngute consults with political party leaders, civil society activists, opinion leaders, traditional leaders, lawmakers and clergy to gather their views. proposals.These proposals will be examined during the national dialogue announced by the September 30 to October 4 in Yaoundé in order to permanently restore peace.

Civil society groups and opposition political parties are calling for the unconditional release of English-speaking separatist leaders and other political prisoners before talks begin.

Separatist groups have described social dialogue as a non-event. They say they became a sovereign state called Ambazonia on October 1, 2017, when their leader Ayuk Tabe declared their independence. They want the international community to intervene and pressure the Yaoundé government to order its troops to leave Ambazonia.

According to the United Nations, the conflict in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon has left more than 2,000 dead, more than 500,000 internally displaced and forced more than 50,000 Cameroonians to seek refuge in Nigeria.