In times like ours so clearly predominantly influenced by populists oriented views geared towards institutional-legal and infrastructural change, our leaders must be vigilant, thoughtful and more cautious with reactions of the governed propelled seemingly by the concept of change.
Change can’t be avoided. It must come but the time frame really matters. How early or later it comes doesn’t really matter but how it comes. It may be gradual or sudden and violent as in the case of revolutions seen around the world or peaceful but what really matters is the government’s response to the peoples’ request.
When citizens ( Cameroonians, if you like), start thinking of change, then there is an obligation on the part of the government to respond or the citizens will consider the government’s inaction as laxity. In this light, the populace will receive government response either positively towards resolving the issue or negatively being laxed and seeing its citizens as having no problem. Unfortunately, when everyone seems to take the wrong way, it therefore becomes the right way. So, even if an unnecessary situation results to an uprising, it is incumbent on the government to respond to resolve the issue. The mere presence of the government is an indication that the government has the interest of its citizens at heart. The government is for the people and vice versa. The upshot of change can be very violent sometimes and lawlessness becomes the order of the day.
The systemic inequality and or discrimination in Cameroon, would have forced many, arguably or unarguably, to hold that, seemingly there are ‘two Cameroons’. Such discrepancies as to the uniqueness of ‘a one-Cameroon’, dauntingly would have been triggered by the modus with which certain issues are being handled by the Authority that be.
Appalling, yet, on the 8th and 10th of October, 2016, Anglophone Lawyers in Cameroon were tortured, treated inhumanely by security operatives in Buea and Bamenda respectively, simply because, they had organised and took part in a peaceful demonstration demanding for equality and or restoration of the Anglophone sub-educational and judicial systems. Of recent, the Duala people in Douala, took to the street in a peaceful demonstration rejecting an administrative action where it is alleged one Mr. Tanko from the West region was crowned a chief in Douala. In the said demonstration, no one was treated inhumanely by security operatives.
Again, on the 22nd of September, 2020, anti-government protests were organised and held across the ‘Mongolo’ by Cameroon Renaisance Movement (MRC) et al. urging president Biya to step down. Arguably or unarguably, the demonstrators weren’t treated inhumanely vis-à-vis, the 2016 demonstrations by the Lawyers. Supportive of ‘a two Cameroon’, to say the least. Nonetheless, it is said, ‘the porcupine and cutting grass can’t share the same hole without eating up each other’…
Is Southern Cameroons a State In International Law? The said question is sometimes answered by reference to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which lays down four qualifications, and to wit:- (a) a defined territory; (b) permanent population; ©a government and; (d) a capacity to enter into relationships with other states.
It is interesting to note that, Vatican and the Sovereign Order of Malta, for instance, obviously fall outside this modus and are more like Southern Cameroons. Southern Cameroons could be compared with other organisations and or states that have achieved some state recognition. The Vatican is an obvious instance or example, which has a ‘territory’ other than a palace and garden in Rome, and no ‘population’ other than Clerics; no-one is born there, except by accident. Its government is the Pope. Appalling, yet, for all these deficiencies, it is recognised as a ‘State by 170 countries, and by the U.N.
The aforementioned treaty was signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933, during the seventh International Conference of America States. Said Convention codifies the declarative theory of statehood as accepted as part of customary international law. At the conference, United States president, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State, Cordell Hull declared the ‘Good Neighbor Policy’, which opposed U.S armed intervention in inter-America affairs. The Convention became operative on December 26, 1934. It was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on January 8, 1936.
Infuriating to note, yet, another international entity or state with even fewer qualifications for statehood is the Sovereign Order of Malta, which is recognised, nonetheless by 108 countries and has been granted permanent observer status at the U.N. It would have appeared there is no clear-cut distinction of principle between Southern Cameroons and Malta.
Supportive is the U.N International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that begins by stating that, ‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’ (Article 1.1). Nonetheless, It would have appeared, this does not imply any right of secession where ‘peoples’ are taken to mean the peoples of a state, Article 27 of the ICCPR does protect minority rights of ethnic communities to enjoy their own political, social and economic lifestyle. Are Southern Cameroonians ‘peoples of a state’?
To note, Southern Cameroonians are a given people with distinct attributes that must be respected and or observed, and until said uniqueness is observed honestly, then could there be peace in Cameroon, for even a genuine dialogue cannot resolve the present ramifications and or complications in Cameroon without said acknowledgement as noted herein above.
Cameroon aren’t indifferent pertaining to the concept of change and in the present circumstances in Cameroon, war is inevitable, Cameroonians are seemingly unhappy with everything. A few can be satisfied but that is not the country. 90% of the citizens are unhappy about something in the country: endemic corruption, joblessness, price hikes and poverty, you name the rest. We are perhaps relatively well-placed to respond to these new political complexities or challenges of today. We need to think seriously about how to respond to new and emerging challenges.
Help us God.
By Barrister ATOH WALTER M. TCHEMI
THE TIME LAW FIRM
Human Rights Activist
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org,