By NDIMUH B. SHANCHO
The United States Congressional delegation have rounded-off facts-finding mission to Cameroon without visiting the Yaounde Central and Principal Prisons, North West and South West regions as anticipated by the separatist leaders and some Cameroonians at home and abroad.
Prior to the visit of the Karen Bass-led delegation to Cameroon, the Vice President of the self-acclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Dabney Yerima, had declared a 24-hour unilateral ceasefire. The essence of this action was to give the US Congressional delegation unperturbed access to the North West and South West regions plagued heavy arm conflict.
The separatist leader even recommended some areas the US Congress men and women should visit, which according to him, “some of the most horrendous international crimes the world has seen in decades have taken place”. These areas included but not limited to Bali, Pinyin, Kwakwa, Muyuka, Batibo, and Mbengwi.
Civil society leaders and Cameroonians of all walks of life both home and abroad had equally greeted this visit with a sigh of relief. To them, the visit will permit the Karen Bass-led delegation visit the war-torn North West and South West regions and get first hand information of the reality on the ground.
Contrary to these expectations, Congressional black caucus reportedly left Cameroon, Wednesday July 3, 2019, without visiting neither the North West nor South West regions. The US Congressional delegation entered Cameroon, on Monday July 1, 2019. Late in the evening of this day, head of the Congressional delegation, Karen Bass told journalists that the government and separatist fighters should respect human rights, end all violence, and begin talks on the separatist conflict.
In the morning of Tuesday July 2, the delegation was at the Star Building, where they were received by Prime Minister, Head of Government Joseph Dion Ngute, on behalf of the Head of State, alongside Peter Henry Barlerin, US Ambassador to Cameroon. Both parties are said to have discussed bilateral cooperations between Cameroon and the United States before looking at the crisis in the North West and South West regions, fight against Boko Haram and the US support to the Cameroon government in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The team of US decision makers, we are told, also met with Cameroon’s Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo, who also gave a report of the crisis. They are also said to have visited refugees and displaced people from the North West and South West regions in Yaounde. No information, however, filtered about them visiting the conflict-hit North West and South West region, as anticipated by many.
Though the team has retired to the US, critics are still skeptical with how much credible information they gathered about the crisis, giving that the trip was limited to the Yaounde.