Friday, 21 September 2018

Cameroon Religious Groups Mobilize To Resolve Secessionist Crisis

Christian and Muslim leaders have published a joint statement addressing the crisis in the nation’s English-speaking regions.


In recent months, the various religious confessions in Cameroon have separately called for peace in the nation’s far west, which has been torn apart by a secessionist crisis that has left many victims.

On Sept. 19, religious leaders issued a widely distributed joint statement condemning the violence in that region and calling on the various protagonists to work to re-establish peace.

Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala, president of the National Episcopal Conference of the Cameroon, president of the Council of Protestant Churches of the Cameroon Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba and Sheikh Oumarou Malam, all condemned “the arbitrary and blind assassinations of the Cameroon people” by armed secessionist groups known as the “Amba boys,” and by the Cameroon regular army.

They also insisted that the government, political parties, the Cameroonian diaspora and the armed secessionist groups all need to make an effort to put an end to the crisis.

The crisis began in 2016

Violent clashes between the forces of order and armed groups have become a daily occurrence in the Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, causing the civilian population to be held hostage.
Cameroon Religious Groups Mobilize To Resolve Secessionist Crisis
The present crisis first broke out in 2016 in the wake of protests by English-speaking lawyers and teachers, who claimed to have been marginalized and dominated by the French-speaking legislative and educational system, which prevails across the nation.

The protests led to strikes and later degenerated into murderous clashes between government forces and secessionists in the English-speaking regions.

A difficult dialogue

On May 16, the Cameroon Episcopal Conference condemned the violence and issued a call for mediation and dialogue between the various parties involved in the conflict.

However, the Cameroon government remains opposed to any dialogue with the secessionists.

Christian and Muslim religious leaders, including Cardinal Christian Tumi of Douala, Pastor Babila George Fochang of the Protestant Church of the Cameroon (EPC), Imam Tukur Mohammed Adamu of the Central Mosque in Bamenda (north-west region) and Chief Imam Alhadji Mohammed Aboubakar of the Central Mosque of Buea (south-west region), announced another initiative on July 25.

The leaders also planned a general conference to address the secessionist issue, which was to be held on Aug. 29-30.
However, the meeting which was intended to bring together English-speakers from the interior of the nation and the diaspora, was postponed indefinitely.

The Cameroon government once again expressed its opposition to the meeting through its spokesperson Issa Tchiroma Bakary.

Need for a national plan to resolve the crisis

In their Sept. 19 statement, the religious groups called on the government to “initiate and urgently announce a national plan for resolution of the crisis addressing the deep and real causes of the crisis in view of a genuine peace.”

They also called for those responsible for violence – whether military or civilian – to be punished.

A few days before the presidential election on Oct. 7, the leaders also called on political parties to resolve the crisis on a priority basis.

As a battle rages on social media, the leaders appealed to the Cameroonian people to make prudent use of these means of communication and to stop spreading “hate speech.”

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