There will be three contentious sub-conferences before a veritable national dialogue conference (Foumban II) if there can be any hope for a satisfactory dialogue forum to seek lasting solutions to the plaguing Anglophone problem. It looks like the Unitarists and Regionalists (partisans of Decentralization) are preparing to meet in Yaounde to resolve their differences over the Unitarists’ obstruction of the implementation of Decentralization in violation of provisions of the 1996 constitution. That is the one to be chaired by Prime Minister Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute. Never mind that some Federalists and even some Restorationists may go there to see how it goes. I would go and make my voice heard, if I am invited.
As Yaounde prepares its grounds, consulting mainly Francophones and “more friendly Anglophones”, most of whom do not even have any Anglophone identity claims, Anglophones with the claims that have created this deadlock must get together to agree on their platform. There must be a third All Anglophone Conference (AAC III) now fashioned the Anglophone General Conference (AGC) initiated by Dr Simon Munzu and Cardinal Tumi, which you guess will be dominated by Federalists (except home-based Restorationists brave it to speak up) and where the two-state, four-state and ten-state Federalists should thrash their differences. SDF’s four-state plan is not exactly that of pre-1972 Federalists and SWELA wants ten states, not two.
The Government in Yaounde has been standing in the way of AAC III initiated by Dr Simon Munzu and Christian Cardinal Tumi. Cardinal Tumi’s group now believe they can do without it, after all, they have sampled the minds of Anglophones through their survey. If that kind of survey should comfort partisans of an AAC III, why should Yaounde organize a dialogue conference at all? They had claimed their sampling of opinions through consultations was dialogue in process. If they have now summoned a physical meeting, do the Tumi group want Yaounde to be seen to have gone a step farther than them?
As an amnesty is not preceding the talks and the most vocal Anglophone Restorations or Separatists who advocate for the independence or restoration of the independence of former British Southern Cameroon now fashioned Ambazonia, are out of the country, they will have to hold their preparatory talks. Or have they already? The Ambazonia Peoples National Convention (APNC) and the All Southern Cameroons Peoples’ Conference (ASCPC) held in the United States earlier this year. But as they both, obviously rival factions, held without the Ambazonia constituted authority (or the closest thereof tolerable to anyone with an understanding of the circumstances of its creation) now in jail in Yaounde, the burden is on Yaounde to show good faith by passing amnesty laws to release them and also make it possible for Ambazonia “fugitives” abroad to take part in the Yaounde talks. That is if the radical Ambazonians would even give consideration to the possibility of any such talks in Yaounde.
After all, there is the Swiss Initiative that looks more realistic. It provides a neutral ground where delegates from all sides can feel secure and trust the role of Swiss mediators, reputed for their legendary neutrality. The Swiss mediation can more easily synthesize the preliminary positions of Unitarists/Regionalists, Federalists and Separatists. Whether the outcome will be the extreme Restoration or the compromise Federation or the conservative Decentralization, parties to the talks may thereafter bury the hatchet or persist in their demands, but the bone of contention would not be over the authenticity of the mediation process.
Trusting Yaounde to host fair talks is also expecting too much from them. Yaounde has its fair share of legitimate grievances against Ambazonian separatists for the limbs and lives of its republican soldiers slain on the battle front and the socio-political hold up and its socio-economic meltdown. It is not humanly possible to forgive and forget too soon. Which is why, if Yaounde truly means to seek a lasting solution to the problem, it should recuse itself of the conflict of interest – that of being both player and referee.
No Restoration, No Federation, No Decentralization!
(My Facebook post on November 5, 2017)
Even the least of these has to be fought and wrestled out of the hands of Yaounde or none will be achieved even with the most acceptable ANGLOPHONE NEGOTIATOR/SPOKESPERSONS at eventual talks. I mean acceptable to Yaounde.
1.) Yaounde will never grant restoration/separation/secession/independence. No government in the world would. It has to be wrestled and seized.
2.) Yaounde will never voluntarily concede federalism. It is not known in French/Francophone politico-administrative culture.
3.) Yaounde is unwilling to grant even their much mooted “less risky” decentralization. It has hesitated with it in its hands for 21 years since it was provided for in the 1996 constitution.
So, take note Yaounde is most at ease with nothing beyond a hyper-centralized unitary state. Obtaining anything – however minimal a shift – must take focused, cool-headed, accomplished leadership with noted character and proven integrity, not wavering, adventurous, desperate postulants who waste no opportunity to, themselves cast doubts over their integrity.
Also be on the alert to watch out for those scheming to endear themselves to Yaounde in order to be more acceptable. Yaounde won’t be at ease with or propping a negotiating partner they know has the character, will and staying focus to wrestle a concession out of their hands.
Now, you understand why some of our protagonists are pampered, protected and guarded, while others’ homes come under teargas attack, looking like an attempt on their lives.
Atanga Nji’s “victory” plant
The Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, loves waving the Peace Plant or nkeng in some local languages. He is a tough-talking man. He feels like a Yaounde insider and his people can go to hell. He believes talking down at his people endears him more and more to Yaounde. He does so with a relish. He was at it last week in Bamenda during an umpteenth ceremony to distribute “Humanitarian Relief Supplies” to internally displaced persons that makes him look more and more like the Minister of IDPs.
True to himself, Atanga Nji practically barked into radio and TV microphones, promising hell to Ambazonia combatants. Some reporters said they had to look up several times to be sure he had not turned into a dog. Coming after what looked like a peace gesture in an unusually softer tone from President Paul Biya, Atanga Nji’s barking made him (a messenger) sound more concerned than Biya who swore in his oath of office to protect territorial integrity.
He barked and barked and barked. And at the end of it, he went dancing and waving and sharing the peace plant to IDPs obviously induced (or instructed) to chant “peace, peace, peace” along with the belligerent minister. Irony of a war-monger was waving the peace plant and chanting “we want peace, we want peace…”. Is this your nkeng a victory plant, Mr Minister? Are you evoking peace by compromise or peace by conquest, dear Atanga Nji. Please cool down, Mr Man!
Apparently, it was in reference to him that Sam Bokuba said in his CRTV Cameroon Calling commentary last Sunday that those who instigated the war continue using bellicose language even after Biya’s peace overtures. Atanga Nji believes he loves state sovereignty more than Biya himself.
When the first group of reporters reached the stricken area in northwestern Cameroon, army units had buried most of the victims in shallow graves that pockmarked the countryside.
″If you had come two or three days ago, you would see corpses in the same way you see the cattle now,″ said Lt. Gen. James Tataw, the chief of Cameroon’s ground forces.
On Thursday, at about 9 p.m., a volcanic tremor unleashed a huge bubble of gas that burst through the surface of Lake Nyos with a thunderous clap, sending deadly gases over a 10-square-mile area where 5,000 people lived.
Tataw said relatives had buried many of the victims before his army units arrived Sunday, making an accurate count impossible but added, ″The cows have no relatives. Their burial will be the last. Priorities are for people.″
Tataw took reporters to a two-room shack with a mound of freshly turned earth near the door and a single chicken strutting through the house.
″In this grave, I buried eight people yesterday,″ he said. ″All the people, the goats, the pigs and the cows died. What surprises me is how that chicken survived.”
(Abridged from AP report, Aug. 27, 1986. Original title: Soldiers begin grim task of burying dead)
Israel: Bibi/Benny like Peres/Shamir
The election deadlock in Israel between incumbent Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz may produce a power-sharing and role-swapping arrangement akin to that between Shimon Peres and Yitzak Shamir in 1984-1988 when both Peres’ Labour and Shamir’s Likud, lacked both seats and coalitions to form a government without the other.
In the runoff last Tuesday following a similar deadlock in April-May, Benny Gantz’s centre-left Kahol Lavan or Blue and White party won 33 seats and Netanyahu’s centre-right Likud got two less. It takes 61 direct or coalition seats in the 120-seat Israeli Knesset to form a government.
It took the refusal of Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu or Israel Our Home party to stall Bibi’s hopes of forming a government in May. He stands no better chance now, either. Netanyahu stands no chance without turning to his main rival, Gantz and that he did earlier in the week but his outstretched arm was greeted with a rebuff from Gantz who said, only on condition that the latter will be Prime Minister.
Arithmetically, the best chance for both men is to form a national unity government of 64 Knesset seats which, likely to be stalled over who takes the lead, may settle for the Peres-Shamir style power-sharing, role-swapping a deal. In 1984, with Peres’ Labour’s 44 seats and Shamir’s Likud’s 41 both insufficient, and either party unable to weave a coalition larger than 54 seats, they agreed to share the four-year term, two years each. Peres first served as PM with Shamir as Foreign Minister and in 1986, shortly after Peres left Cameroon on an official visit, he gave way as PM and took the Foreign portfolio for Shamir to take over as PM.