By Atia Azohnwi
Some activists of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, based in the United Kingdom nearly disrupted activities marking the Commonwealth Day in London on March 11, 2019. In spite of the presence of the Queen and thousands of people from Commonwealth countries that were at Westminster Abbey for commemorative activities, the SCNC activists stormed the venue with placards calling for the dismissal of Cameroon from the Commonwealth. The activists carried and floated the SCNC flag and brandished placards with messages demanding the dismissal of Cameroon from the Gentlemen’s Club, arguing that Cameroon has the worst human rights records. Prior to their protest on March 11, 2019, the SCNC activists in the UK had on October 10, 2018 handed a petition to the British authorities at 10 Downing Street, a petition wherein they outlined why they wanted Cameroon ousted from the Commonwealth.
Cameroon, a bilingual country in the Central African sub-region was the 53rd state to join the Commonwealth on November 1, 1995. Since November 2016, Cameroon has been gripped by social unrest that has witnessed thousands internally displaced, killings of both civilians and military personnel, destruction of private and public property, disruption of educational and health services in the two English speaking regions of North West and South West. The genesis of the unrest was a strike action initiated by common law lawyers and teachers in the two English speaking regions who decried the erosion of their Anglo-Saxon culture by the French-dominating regime based in Yaoundé. They complained of marginalization in all spheres of life since the reunification of former British Cameroon and French speaking Cameroon. Negotiations between the strikers and government turned sour and mayhem set in as some SCNC activists took arms against the central government and have been fighting for complete secession of the two English speaking regions from the other 8 French speaking regions.
The Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, is a secessionist movement that gained prominence in the early 90s in the former British Cameroon as they wanted complete independence and a review of the reunification treaty with French speaking Cameroon. Their main bone of contention has been the disrespect of the reunification treaty by the French dominating regime that has made the English speaking people second fiddle to them, though the reunification treaty underlined equality of both cultures.
The SCNC has always preached complete secession of former British Cameroon from the rest of Cameroon, to form an independent country called Ambazonia. The Cameroon government outlawed the SCNC and there has always been a manhunt of its members. Most SCNC activists are on exile and have been piloting secession activities from abroad. The self-declared government of Ambazonia headed by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe was recently arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon and are being tried by the Cameroon military tribunal for attempting secession.
Dust is yet too to settle on the October 7, 2018 presidential election in Cameroon, where the opposition candidate, Maurice Kamto claimed victory. He called for peaceful protest marches across Cameroon and abroad to claim his victory. After the January 26, 2019 protest marches in Cameroon, France and Germany, he and a cross-section of his collaborators were arrested and incarcerated. The Cameroon government requested the French and German governments to repatriate all Cameroonians living irregularly in their countries to come home and face the law. The government argued that they were the ones that stormed the embassies and looted public and private properties.
The SCNC activists who protested in London on March 11, 2019 and demanded for the dismissal of Cameroon from the Commonwealth are sure targets too. This is certainly so as the Cameroon government has placed snares at Cameroonian airports to trap Diasporans who have been using social media and other means to ask for a regime change in the country.