La Republique du Cameroun already mired in mountains of debt is now neck-deep in a war with the self-declared country of Ambazonia with no hope of winning.
Ambazonia, formerly Southern Cameroons came into union with La Republique du Cameroun in
1961 to form what was known as Cameroon until October 1, 2017 when Southern Cameroon decided to break away as Ambazonia.
The Ambazonian people claim they did not get their independence from British colonial rule only to be recolonized by La Republique du Cameroun. Instead of engaging in dialogue to resolve the crisis, largely pent-up frustration and marginalization that have built over the years, La Republique du Cameroun resorts to scorched-earth tactics to force the people of Ambazonia under its rule. Its soldiers burn down entire villages, indiscriminately kill civilians, randomly arrest and jail locals wherever there is resistance.
Ambazonians say they crave the period when the region was self-governed and had a multiparty system with competitive free and fair elections.
During the period from 1953 to 1961, a mere 8 year span, the Ambazonian region had 3 different elected prime ministers. That is a stark contrast to Cameroon after the merger which has only had two presidents from 1961 to 2018. Paul Biya at 85 and already in power for 35 years is still running for reelection.
Ambazonians fault themselves for not having seriously considered that their smaller population which constituted just 20% of the population of Cameroon was no match to La Republique’s when demographic issues were at play.
With only 20% of the population of Cameroon, the Ambazonian region made up 60% of revenue generated from economic activities for Cameroon. Economic activity in Ambazonia has grounded to a halt as war ravages the region.
The Ambazonian region has always been a bastion for the opposition as locals decry perceived economic injustice, cultural and linguistic marginalization. The region’s minority status within a larger Cameroon severely limited its ability to address such concerns in a country ruled by an autocratic regime.
After talks broke down between the government and a consortium group representing the interests of Ambazonian lawyers and teachers, the government soon moved in to arrest the leaders of the consortium. Street protests ensued and the government responded by brutally attacking peaceful protesters with tear gas and bullets. Many protesters got arrested and some have never been heard from again. News reports of lawyers and teachers covered in blood and gruesome scenes of people lying dead in pools of blood flooded social media.
The harsh government crackdown pushed many Ambazonians to take up arms and protect their community. Sporadic fighting broke out in the Ambazonia region in late 2017 between La Republique’s forces and local entities that want complete statehood and self-governance.
The fighting is now spiralling into an out of control armed conflict with several local factions mounting road check points at positions previously held by government forces.
With Paul Biya having declared war on Ambazonia in an attempt to regain control of the region, there are now documented reports of horrific summary executions carried out by forces of La Republique.
Ambazonian fighters routinely force local businesses and schools to close down in show of support for their cause. Non-compliance is often met with the burning down of shops and schools and in some cases the killing of government sympathizers.
While Ambazonians were significantly divided into a faction that wanted a federal entity and another that wanted total separation from La Republique, it is widely known now that there is little daylight between these Ambazonian factions. The government’s brutal methods in trying to crush the uprising and stifle dissent have pushed the dissident groups much closer into clamoring for secession.
Biya finances his war by largely borrowing money from China, using natural resources as collateral – resources which are fast sliding out of his grip. It is a war Mr. Biya can not afford to lose or he risks mortgaging the entire future of the children from La Republique for generations. Mr. Biya has stubbornly failed to pay heed to advice from renowned international experts who say the war is already a lost endeavor as the government’s scorched-earth tactics have made the people of Ambazonia ever more determined to maintain their new statehood.
There are never winners in a war, just losers. The biggest losers being La Republique and foreign lenders. La Republique would have spent its cash and future in a war with no win in sight and foreign lenders left with a much smaller La Republique that has little potential to pay back.
Advanced democratic elections in Cameroon come up in October, but little to no voting is expected in the self-declared Ambazonian region as fighting there has so far prevented local politicians from venturing out to campaign. La Republique prefers to call it more advanced democracy when compared to other elections around the world because final election results are always tallied months before actual voting even starts.
Fighters for the free Ambazonia movement are largely funded by concerned Ambazonians in the diaspora, a good number of whom had worked in the Cameroonian government. They have come to the conclusion that the future for the people of Ambazonia should be decided by Ambazonians and not the government of Paul Biya or any foreign entity.