Cameroon’s military campaign against the Boko Haram insurgency started late but has met with partial success. To consolidate gains and bring lasting peace to the Far North, the government must now shift to long-term socio-economic development, countering religious radicalism and reinforcing public services.
Govt hardened repression in both Anglophone regions, Southwest and Northwest, in response to protests against perceived govt marginalisation, as Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Far North. Talks between govt and federalist Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) broke down 14 Jan, CACSC same day demanded referendum on federal governance system and called for “ghost town” general strike 16-17 Jan in western regions to protest violent repression by security forces, call largely heeded. Govt 17 Jan banned secessionist Southern Cameroon’s National Council and CACSC and same day arrested latter’s president and Sec Gen in Buea in SW among others, sparking fresh protests. Govt mid-Jan shut down internet in both Anglophone regions; restrictions still effective, schools closed and strike ongoing end month. BH quadruple suicide bombings in Kolofata and Doublé, Kolofata district 11 Jan killed only bombers, triple suicide bombing in Doublé, Kolofata district 30 Jan killed at least four people including bombers. BH killed one soldier in Kolofata 10 Jan, looted Gakara village, Kolofata district 26 Jan and killed one civilian in Fotokol 30 Jan. Bodies of sixteen people killed by BH found in Gnam-Gnam, Waza district 15 Jan. Cameroonian troops continued to support Nigerian-led operations in Sambisa forest and Ngoshe in Nigeria to push out Abubakar Shekau’s BH faction; three Cameroonian soldiers killed in operations in Nigeria since end Dec. Chiefs of armed forces (Gen Kodji) and gendarmerie (Col Kameni) in Far North and two officers killed in helicopter crash in Bogo district, Far North 22 Jan.
Religious intolerance is a growing but seriously underestimated risk in Cameroon, both between and inside the major faiths. To halt the spread of violent extremism in the country, Cameroon needs to bring all sects into a new social compact and within the bounds of a charter for religious tolerance.
Cameroon’s apparent stability belies the variety of internal and external pressures threatening the country’s future. Without social and political change, a weakened Cameroon could become another flashpoint in the region.
Cameroon, until now a point of stability in the region, faces potential instability in the run-up to the presidential elections scheduled for late 2011.
Cameroon’s apparent stability is deceptive: even if it overcomes its near-term challenges, longer-term deterioration could lead to conflict.
[Cameroon's] victory in the Africa Cup of Nations will have little impact in the long run. It neither addresses the structural grievances nor on the Anglophone resentment of marginalisation and appeal for federalism.
You cannot say yet that the [Multinational Joint Task Force tackling Boko Haram] is integrated like a NATO force. It’s just to coordinate; it is not yet a unified force. Each of the forces is based in their own territories.
In Cameroonian politics there is practically no culture of accountability.
Originally published in Africa Research Institute
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.
Originally published in The Mail and Guardian
Two years ago, the Cameroonian government declared war on Boko Haram. Despite some progress, the group’s violent impact is still seen and felt deeply in the remote north of the country.
In May 2014, Cameroon declared war on Boko Haram at the Paris Summit. Since then, Boko Haram has intensified its activities in the Far North Region of the country, making Cameroon the second most targeted country, in terms of attacks, by the sect. Hans De Marie Heungoup, Cameroon analyst at the International Crisis Group, provides insights on the rise of Boko Haram in Cameroon, the stakes for the country and efforts made by the Government to overcome the jihadist organisation.
Originally published in Sustainable Security