A Crisis in Cameroon Crying Out for a Lib Dem Solution

The central African nation of Cameroon is better known for football, but its bloody, under-reported conflict deserves the attention of Liberal Democrats. The rights of minorities to determine their future, and the need for a new constitutional settlement based on devolution or federalism are key issues. A Liberal International British Group webinar on April 19th explores the issues.

The former colonial powers, the UK and France, offer bland calls for the respect for international human rights law, but neither government will apply pressure on Cameroon to attend inclusive mediated peace talks

Click here to register

Background to the conflict: Cameroon has been ruled by President Paul Biya, age 88, since 1982. He continues to win elections that no international monitor considers free and fair, and his country is ranked among the world’s most corrupt and repressive by Transparency International and Freedom House, respectively.

In 2016, Biya’s Francophone-dominated regime tried to impose French-speaking judges and teachers on the English-speaking regions, representing 20% of the population. Peaceful Anglophone protests were crushed with what impartial human rights groups described as disproportionate force. The UN estimates 700,000 civilians (out of six million Anglophones) have fled to the bush and beyond. UNICEF says one million children have been out of school for four years. Local civil society groups believe 5,000 people have been killed. Meanwhile, hundreds of opposition figures are imprisoned without due process.

Armed militias have emerged, demanding a sovereign country called “Ambazonia,” and rights monitors believe all armed sides are behaving with impunity. The former colonial powers, the UK and France, offer bland calls for the respect for international human rights law, but neither government will apply pressure on Cameroon to attend inclusive mediated peace talks offered by the Swiss and the Vatican. Our webinar speakers will offer a variety of views and analysis on the way forward. Speakers include Lib Dem member Billy Burton and Dr Chris Fomunyoh from the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC.

Please join us by registering here.

* Rebecca Tinsley is founder of the human rights group, www.WagingPeace.info, and on the Liberal International British Group Executive

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Marriott 9th Apr '21 - 9:19am

    The modern history of Africa is like that of the Middle East, namely artificial borders created by European colonials that bisected tribal boundaries and the exploitation of their native populations firstly by those colonialists and secondly by despotic rule. I have often wondered why South America went a slightly different way. Could it be that the “genocide” wrought on Africa was largely, but not exclusively, perpetrated by tribe against tribe, whereas, in Central and South America – and a case could even be argued in North American as well – the recipients of that genocide, either overt by slaughter or covert by disease, were largely the nature peoples at the hands of Europeans?

  • John Marriott 9th Apr '21 - 9:52am

    Sorry about predictive text. That ‘nature’ in the last line should, of course, have been ‘native’. While I’m back in the thread, I do hope that anyone registering to take part in the ‘webinar’ doesn’t try to make overtly political points. The fact is that we are ALL in the West to blame for much that has happened in the continents and regions I mentioned in my first post. Just bringing ‘democracy’ to any of these areas alone will not make things much better. As far as Africa is concerned, while people were chucking spears at each other, things were manageable to a certain extent. Now they are firing automatic weapons, things get rapidly out of control. We could start by stopping selling them weapons.

  • I am nut sure that the former colonial powers, the UK and France, can apply effective pressure on Cameroon to attend inclusive mediated peace talks offered by the Swiss and the Vatican. The African Union (AU) might though.
    AU sanctions could mean travel bans, restrictions on access to services in the international arena. Alternatively, there could be calls for a special rapporteur for the UN and the African Union. That type of special envoy could be sent, not necessarily to mediate, but to find out what’s acceptable or unacceptable on the ground; more so for those who are calling for separatism, to find out how those flames could be doused. Such reports can be tabled at the UN Security Council and further action collectively across the UN and its African Union affiliate would be able to make stronger decisions.

  • Sounds as if federalism is a better recipe for what you describe than devolution. I think devolution with its inherent top down approach is only appropriate when you have reached the size downwards where the entity is not viable. Of course the two are quite close and the distinction can be arbitrary.

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