By Atia Tilarious Azohnwi
President Paul Biya on Friday signed a decree creating a committee to disarm fighters of terror group Boko Haram and armed separatists and to help with their reintegration into civil life.
“The committee shall be responsible for organizing, supervising and managing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-fighters of Boko Haram and armed groups in the North West and South West Regions willing to response favourably to the Head of State’s peace appeal by laying down their arms,“ Biya said in a decree made public Friday evening.
According to the 85-year-old president, the committee dubbed National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee (NDDRC) will take appropriate measures to collect and destroy weapons, munitions and explosives captured from the separatist and Boko Haram fighters. It will be lodged in Yaounde with offices in Bamenda, Buea and Mora.
The committee will provide the ex-fighters with better means of livelihood, he said.
“(The committee will) facilitate the reintegration of ex-fighters particularly by organizing, training and providing them with tools and means of production and assistance for the creation of income generating activities,“ Biya said.
Boko Haram has killed nearly 2,500 Cameroonians between 2014 and 2017, according to Cameroon’s defense ministry. On Wednesday, two Boko Haram suicide bombers detonated in a busy market in Amchide of the Cameroon’s Far North region, 29 people were injured, according to the national channel CRTV.
Fighting is still intense in the two English-speaking regions of North West and South West where more than 430,000 people have been displaced internally according to the United Nations. Armed separatists are seeking to secede from the Francophone-majority Cameroon and create a new Anglophone nation called “Ambazonia.”
In early November, Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration said “many” armed separatists have surrendered and asked to be reintegrated into society. Separatists said the minister’s declaration was “fake” and insisted those who surrendered were “not fighters.”
George Ngwane, a writer, poet, peace activist, educationist, political analyst, Pan Africanist and founder/Executive Director of AFRICAphonie had proposed that separatists be given a way out of the bushes where they are fighting.
“…However what they all agree is that an amnesty programme is cost-effective but not a substitute for a substantive discussion on the root and/or proximate causes of the conflict. In fact, fighters are often willing to surrender their weapons only when there is a clear and concrete agenda for addressing the issues that led them to take up arms in the first place,” Ngwane wrote in a piece below…