Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Anglophone Crisis -- UN Report Pledges Fresh Mediation Role, Says Agbor Balla and Fontem Promised to Call Off Strike Upon Release if Gov’t Promised Genuine Dialogue

The United Nations, UN, has reiterated its willingness to play the role of mediator in a bid to provide lasting solutions to the ongoing crisis rocking the two English-speaking Regions of Cameroon.

The body’s readiness to play the role of mediator between government and aggrieved Anglophones is amongst several other recommendations contained in the twelfth report of the UN Secretary General on the situation in Central Africa and on the activities of United Nations Office for Central Africa, UNOCA.

The report, it should be said, will be presented to the UN Security Council on June 13, (tomorrow) by François Louncény Fall, Special Representative and Head of UNOCA.

In their report met with much criticism from most Southern Cameroonians about the Cameroon crisis, they state that “In Cameroon, a peaceful demonstration held on 28 November by students from the University of Buea was repressed by security forces, who resorted to the excessive use of force, coupled with arbitrary arrests and detention.”
Antonio Guterres -- UN Secretary General
Still on the situation in the North West and South West Regions, the report added: “On 8 December, protests organized by youth groups in Bamenda, the capital of the North West Region, escalated when police and security forces used tear gas and water cannons against protesters, before eventually opening fire.”

They said, at least two protesters were killed and four police officers were injured.

A police precinct, the report went on to add, was burned down and government vehicles were set ablaze.

“There have also been other violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association, peaceful assembly and access to information, including the arrests and detention of journalists, as well as the shutdown of internet and two radio stations in Bamenda and Buea. From 1 to 3 February, my Special Representative traveled to Yaoundé for consultations with national authorities on the situation in Cameroon, particularly in the Anglophone Regions, and the fight against Boko Haram” read a portion of the UN SG’s report.

During the various consultations, the representative of the UN SG, the report announced, met with Cameroon’s Prime Minister, the Minister of External Relations, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization and civil society actors.

The report said the representative had, during the tete-a-tetes, stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the situation and reiterated United Nations support to the efforts of the Lake Chad basin countries in fighting terrorism.

“Prior to his mission, a working level team from UNOCA travelled to the country to hold discussions with stakeholders and explore possible entry points for United Nations support” the report that is yet to be presented to the Security Council also said.

The UN SG stated further: “My special representative traveled to Yaounde again from 9 to 13 April, where he met senior government representatives, opposition figures and civil society actors, as well as the detained leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, to encourage them to engage in dialogue in order to peacefully address the crisis.”

During his visit, the UN boss said his representative took time off to encourage the government to consider carrying out additional confidence-building measures to further defuse tensions, including the release of the Anglophone leaders and the restoration of internet services as a sign of goodwill.

“He further urged the authorities to fully implement the measures announced in the justice sector. My special representative found the imprisoned leaders of the Consortium to be in good form. They informed him that they were well treated and underlined that they were against secession” the report noted.

“They further expressed their readiness to call for the suspension of the strike upon their release between mid-January and mid-April should the government give its assurances that it would address the grievances of the Anglophone Regions through dialogue” the report quoted the detained leaders as saying.
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