Monday, 11 June 2018

Ambazonia War - Paul Biya's Government Has Already Lost The Battle

No one knows who will win the war between military and English-speaking separatists in the forests and villages of northwestern and southwestern Cameroon, but it is on track to make only losers. 

Faced with a professional army and seasoned by three years of struggle against Boko Haram, the myriad of independentist armed bands is unlikely to amputate Cameroon of part of its territory.

The government, for its part, has already lost the battle of the image, especially as the stigmata of conflict will for a long time frustrate the incantational promise of national unity. Weapons will bring order, but the burning of villages, torture, degrading treatment and indifference to the plight of internally displaced persons have created a deep sense of injustice.

On the substance of the problem, the authorities will not be able to ignore the causes of this crisis indefinitely. Neither will they be able to postpone the reforms demanded by English speakers without provoking new episodes of violence.
Ambazonia War - Paul Biya's Government Has Already Lost The Battle
Unless you wear blinkers, it is now clear that this marriage between two radically opposed social models does not work. We have failed to reconcile centralist Jacobinism of French inspiration, proclaiming the indivisibility of the nation, from the top to the bottom, and Anglo-Saxon federalism, oriented from the bottom to the top.

If Francophones have not succumbed to the temptation to take up arms to bring down this regime that is not inclined to reform, they share the fact that the current mode of devolution of power has failed. But beware: federalism is not popular either. Experienced between 1961 and 1972, this system suffers from four decades of insidiously denigrated teaching in the history classes of French schools. Not without demagogy, school programs have managed to make Cameroonians believe that this form of organization would increase the functioning of the state and would explode public spending. Hence the wait-and-see attitude of the silent majority.

As for the upper classes, to which the French-speaking diaspora joins, they are in favor of decentralization. Except that this will not meet the thirst for recognition of Anglophones: it does not guarantee that the specificity of this minority in its culture, educational system, judicial or administrative organization is taken into account.
For anglophones, federalism is first and foremost a bulwark against the “Assimilationist” uniformity thought and will of the power of Yaounde. But if they call it their wishes, they too are divided on its terms. There is an embarrassment to evoke an “identity” federalism in two states, one francophone and the other anglophone, which would give reason to those who see it as a ploy intended to facilitate the outcome of the secession project. Perhaps it is necessary to move towards a division into four ethnico-regional blocks (grand North, South, West and Littoral) or to favor the constitution of ten federal states corresponding to the ten regions of the country? The question is not settled.

That’s not the only one. After the confrontations, it will be necessary to envisage reconciling the Cameroonians.

During or after the confrontations, the question of the form of the state must be discussed. In force since 1972, the unitary state is no longer popular. All regions of the country suffer from Etoudi’s centralism. His counterpart, the regional balance, is also disputed. This model of national construction is criticized for having anesthetized healthy emulation in the access to public jobs, where the meritocracy has been evaded. Two factors which, in the eyes of the majority of Cameroonians, are at the origin of the large-scale corruption which hampers the development of the country.

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