Monday, February 3, 2020

Anglophone Crisis: should we expect something from African mediation?

How to get out of the hellish spiral? While all the solutions to the separatist crisis proposed so far are struggling to bring peace, the club of former African heads of state plans to organize a symposium on the situation. Will they succeed where all offers of mediation have failed? Decryption.

Will the offer of mediation from the former African heads of state be able to silence arms in the deadly crisis that has been tearing Cameroon apart for more than three years? The approach is all the more important since all attempts to resolve the crisis have so far been unsuccessful. 

Originally announced last year, the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government for Peace, also known as the Africa Forum, is finally planning to organize a symposium on the situation in Cameroon next April in Nairobi, Kenya. Objective: "to support the peaceful resolution" of this conflict. Something to give hope to some English speakers. Like Wannah Immanuel Bumakor, academic, many agree that this formula is more likely to succeed than the great national dialogue recently organized in Cameroon. 

"This is perhaps the kind of dialogue that Cameroonians expected because it meets almost all the criteria for an inclusive and sincere dialogue that Cameroonian civil society and the international community have always wanted," said the academic from English-speaking North West at the microphone of Sputnik. 

This other “big dialogue” is expected to include at least 500 Cameroonians representing the various stakeholders, in particular “opinion leaders, civil society, the government of Cameroon, religious organizations, Cameroonians in the diaspora and more…”, specifies the press release announcing the event. If the colloquium announced seems to have more credit in the eyes of some observers, it is indeed because it takes place in foreign territory and could therefore benefit from the presence of separatist leaders, largely absent from the "great national dialogue" organized in Yaounde. 

“It is very possible that this dialogue will be a success because the organizers have the possibility of inviting all the stakeholders involved in the conflict, which the great national dialogue organized last year by Paul Biya failed to do . This time, the pro-secessionist groups will be able to participate without fear of being arrested because it will take place on neutral ground ”, continues Wannah Immanuel Bumakor.

Abundant in the same wake, Ayah Ayah Abiné, from the English-speaking Southwest, president of the Ayah Foundation which assists the victims of the separatist crisis, welcomes the initiative which in reality, according to his analysis, is an admission of failure for Cameroonian leaders in the search for the solution to the crisis. 

"The initiative is to be encouraged, even if I would have liked this problem to be resolved internally between Cameroonians. But everything suggests that the option of internal resolution of the crisis is not among the priorities of those who take advantage of the current situation, "he said. 

Indeed, eagerly awaited to bring a solution to this crisis, the "great national dialogue", which was held from September 30 to October 4 last in the absence of the main separatist leaders, has not kept its promises . The implementation of the resolutions that emerged, including the special status granted to the two English-speaking regions, was not enough to stop the conflict. Professor Pascal Messanga Nyamding, member of the central committee of the ruling party, has his vision of the challenge facing the club of former heads of state. 

“The challenge will be to mobilize those who maintain this war. Most of them are located abroad, ”he said at Sputnik's microphone. 

And yet, we must also count on the good cooperation of the government of Yaoundé. In an article published last year, Jeune Afrique already highlighted the reluctance of Paul Biya, contacted without success by the South African Thabo Mbeki "to whom his peers had entrusted the task of carrying out this mission".

Will the Cameroonian government, which has often multiplied declarations to limit the involvement of external partners in this pacification process, be this time willing to fully open to this mediation? For Professor Messanga Nyamding, the profile of mediators can give hope. 

“When you have been head of state, you have both the national and international legal and institutional instruments to access another President of the Republic. These former heads of state have proven competence that can help mitigate the conflict in the North West and South West regions, ”he said. 

An optimism that the president of the Ayah foundation tries to put into perspective. The English-speaking leader considers the attitude of Cameroonian leaders hardly compatible with the prospect of a happy outcome. 

“It all depends on the good faith of our leaders. But I have expected nothing from them for their attitude for decades. I just hope that this intervention will put an end to this war which has not ceased to mourn us, "says the English-speaking leader. 

Clear positions?

While observers hail the symbolism of such an initiative since Africans are very often considered incapable of resolving conflicts on their continent, Mathias Éric Owona Nguini, political scientist, thinks that “this conference will have no real influence on the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions ”. For him, the chances of success of this international mediation are almost zero "given the complexity of the problem". 

"It has no chance of succeeding because it is difficult enough for its organizers to mobilize the leading players that exist in each conflict group. They are the ones who can play a leading role in an effective dynamic for ending the crisis based on obtaining a compromise between the protagonists in the conflict, ”argues the political scientist. 

If Mathias Eric Owona Nguini has reservations about the Forum's ability to mobilize the main protagonists, it is because, he believes, "the real situation shows that the positions are very clear-cut and that it is difficult to reconcile". The separatist extremists are indeed campaigning for the partition of Cameroon, an option that cannot be envisaged for Yaoundé. However, the Forum counts on "the goodwill of the invited participants to have an open dialogue". 

Although for the moment little is known about the identity of the guest separatist leaders, even less about the actual presence of the Cameroonian government, the club of ex-heads of state continues to consult with the protagonists. The Forum intends to submit to President Paul Biya in person the recommendations resulting from its work.