By Doh James Sonkey
A national inclusive dialogue on peaceful resolution of conflicts in Cameroon took place last October 25, 2018 at the Yaounde Conference Centre, in the conspicuous absence of government officials and representatives of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, the CPDM party of President Paul Biya, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM party of Prof Maurice Kamto etc, all duly invited to the ceremony.
Organized by Women in Alternative Action, WAA Cameroon of the civil society in collaboration with its Kenyan partner, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, GPPAC, the national inclusive dialogue was appreciated by many participants from Cameroon and other countries who described the move as a step forward in breaking the current socio-political stalemate in Cameroon.
During the occasion, invited guest speaker at the inclusive dialogue, Kenyan born Thomas Leremore, delivering an expose on civil society, religious organizations and media in Kenya’s political process, explored the link between conflict escalation and the ability of political processes to solving conflicts, by ensuring inclusivity, justice and equitable access to public goods.
Drawing inspiration from the Kenyan post election violence of 2007 that led to the death of several thousands of people and the destruction of properties and its inclusive resolution process, Thomas Leremore demonstrated how civil society, religious organizations, traditional stakeholders and the media can engage constructively to generate and promulgate possible solutions to the conflicts.
Other presentations were made on nonviolent communication: the implication of hate language within the Cameroonian political crisis context, by the Communication Officer of the National Communication Council in Cameroon, Mbezele; engaging religious and traditional leaders in peace building efforts, by Kenyan born Ibrahim Lethome; and discussing the security of women and children in the context of armed violence and conflicts, by Sylvie Ndongmo of Women International League for Peace and Freedoms and Justine Kwachu Kumche of Women in Alternative Action, WAA Cameroon.
The inclusive dialogue was crowned by a candle light session that explored an inner reflection on the crisis, remembering the victims and mourners.
Talking to reporters, both Justine Kwachu Kumche of WAA Cameroon and Thomas Leremore of GPPAC stressed on the need for all political stakeholders in Cameroon to sit up and embrace inclusive dialogue in order to promote sustainable peace in the country to avoid the devastating effects of wars and conflicts.
They all rejoiced that the dialogue will help Cameroonians from all backgrounds to understand the need for peaceful coexistence “because we believe that violence is not the way forward. In order to solve the different conflicts that we are faced with, we need to put our different ideas on the table and work in consultation with other stakeholders.”
At the end of the inclusive dialogue, participants who all pledged to support peaceful resolution of conflicts were given a peace message to spread to their various communities, stressing that Cameroon needs a nonviolent approach to solve its conflicts because children are dying and communities perishing etc.