The vacuity of sovereignty

EDITORIAL 10 Mar 2020
The vacuity of sovereignty

The past two weeks or so have sounded stormy in the relationship between Cameroon and France, on account of the French President’s recent outing on Cameroon. President Emmanuel Macron, no doubt declared that he indeed, did put pressure on President Biya to release Professor Maurice Kamto along with other political prisoners. There is no doubt that President Macron’s declaration has simply rekindled a recycling puzzle, which is now being put in a straight forward question: Is France actually remotely controlling Cameroon?
To quote the French President in his declaration to a Cameroonian Activist, Calibri Calibro, “I put pressure on Paul Biya to deal with the subject of the English Speaking area and its opponents. I told him that I did not want to receive him in Lyon until Maurice Kamto was released.” Every curious mind will want to know what was so urgent for the Cameroonian President to be so keen to meet Macron, to the extent that, such hard conditions had to be put to enable President Biya to meet with his French counterpart.
At the end of the day, Kamto was released and Macron finally received Biya in Lyon. At this point, it becomes pertinent to ask those who frantically insist on the sovereignty of the Cameroonian state to define the character of that sovereignty in the face of circumstances under which we tend to loss control of our dignity as a nation that must reduce its leanings on bigger powers. The recent reaction of the Cameroonian authorities to the Macron’s outing simply explains how much we labour in vain to redress the vacuity of the sovereignty of our nation. Either we simply refuse to give serious thought to the purpose for which sovereignty, especially of a people stands for, or we are simply determined to play lackeys to the big powers at will. We are certainly playing the latter.
It is true that in diplomacy, like in any other calling, there are ethics or certain norms that must be respected. We agree that Macron must have crossed the red line here in defiance of diplomatic culture. But under the dark cover of diplomacy, the reality is usually eclipsed for the simple pride of protecting the dignity of the discipline. But this is in most cases injurious at certain levels in the quality of relations between some countries, for example the relationship between France and Cameroon. This is a case which is bound by a number of intricacies, such that, with time, are likely to produce sparks.
It is on record that at the time of the independence of the former French Cameroun, a number of now outdated pacts were agreed upon between France and Cameroun, relating to military, monetary, and cooperation, commerce, maritime, you name it, which have neither been reviewed nor revoked. Today, most of these bilateral agreements represent veritable conduit pipes through which France’s exploitation in Cameroon manifests itself. Unfortunately the French Ambassador to Cameroon, Christophe Guilhou, is quoted to have said that Cameroon is the third highest recipient of French support and that France spends hundreds of millions of Euros a year on Cameroon and he maintains that this cannot be an act of exploitation.
The Diplomat may be right depending also on the terms under which Cameroon receives this money. On the other hand, one may also ask if this cannot equally be used as an incentive through which France bulldozes her way into various sectors of the country’s economy, for instance in the oil sector and even politics? We think the issue of our sovereignty is a long debate that is only likely to pin us to the wall. We have already noted that under the dark cover of diplomacy the hard issues are eclipsed to create the false impression that all is well. But there becomes a time when open reproaches such as Macron just displayed become necessary for the purpose of a new dispensation.
We in this Newspaper strongly believe that Macron has certainly not wronged any right thinking Cameroonian who has this country at heart. We are talking here of the sovereignty of our nation and people. Macron’s outburst must therefore be seen to serve as an opportunity for us to open up a new chapter in our bilateral diplomacy and cooperation. This should also pass the message over to such fanatical regime supporters, that dogmatic diplomacy could as well turn out to be a source of evil, by facilitating the concealment of the truth under the cover of diplomatic courtesy. Let us be bold and hide our pride. The truth is that we are not altogether a sovereign people. We failed to negotiate it from the very beginning through bilateral engagements which are today haunting us.

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