The Anglophone General Conference

EDITORIAL 22 Nov 2018
The Anglophone   General Conference

The heat did subside naturally over the debate on whether the Cardinal Tumi and Co. sponsored peace initiative of convening an Anglophone General Conference, AGC in Buea, should hold at all. It however ended up being postponed to this November and now to another date. Government’s position on the issue at the time was that it would not allow the gathering to hold before the September 7, elections. The convenors did not put up any arguments and, a postponement was decided upon and a tentative date fixed for November. It remains unclear why it was postponed yet again. But going by popular demand, it may well be to bring separatists and government on board.
The good news, however, is that government never came up against holding the conference, but rather it was not happy with certain pre-conditions that were put forward by the convenors, which included the laying down of arms by the fighting forces on both sides, the release of detainees connected to the crisis etc. The government was certainly not very impressed with such pre-conditions, which it considered as a move that only places government on the side of weakness, with a strong argument that it is the responsibility of every government to maintain law and order. But does it require such a deployment of troops and heavy equipment to the two Anglophone regions only to maintain peace?
According to the convenors, such a condition was intended to demonstrate good faith on the part of government and instill confidence in the population. On the other hand, they argue that the outcome of the conference should not be interpreted to represent an automatic solution to the Anglophone problem, but rather, a significant step in looking forward to a solution to the problem proper. Without mincing words, we in this Newspaper have always declared our support for any voice that would strengthen global effort to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the country. We did give our backing to the Cardinal Tumi and Co. initiative because we saw in it, an added voice to the global effort for peace.
There is no doubt that options for a solution to the Anglophone problem have multiplied, ranging from the return to the original form of state, based on the federal structure of 1961 constitution, to an outright separation from what has now become a centralized state of the Republic of Cameroon, which the President most often describes as “one and indivisible”. If we did lend our support to the Tumi plan, it is because there is every hope that the conference is very likely to come out on a common ground that will be of much good to whatever forum of dialogue the government may want to engage Anglophones
The bad news here is that there now seems to be a division among the Anglophones themselves, which we fear will make the work of the envisaged conference – whenever it will eventually take place – a little cumbersome. That is only a fear which should never be allowed to override the possibilities that a lot is very likely to come out of the gathering. That Dr. Munzu, one of the pillars of this initiative, leaning more on the option of federalism, has opted out on allegations of threats mounted on him is unfortunate at this time.
We strongly believe that the AGC is timely and must be given all the backing it deserves to pave the way for a meaningful dialogue. We also strongly welcome the latest position taken by the British House of Lords in putting pressure on the Her Majesty’s government to act beyond its mere expression of concern, instead of doing what must be done to stop the bloodletting in the English speaking part of Cameroon. We, however, regret that almost a fortnight since in his inaugural speech on October 6, the president did admit that he is conscious of the Anglophone problem, but fell short of outlining his immediate action to reduce tension.
We have said it before, and we are saying it again and again that the solution to the Anglophone problem lies on no one else’s door steps than the president himself. So why the silence, why postpone a glorious opportunity for peace for those he proudly calls his people: “One and indivisible”? Why postpone a legacy that knocks on his door steps? Obviously these questions are not being asked only by us, but by the world at large. The president certainly knows where we went wrong. It is only left for us to retrace our steps a little behind and right the wrongs of the past. This is the only way forward.

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