Regional armies in the Lake Chad basin deploy vigilantes to sharpen campaigns against Boko Haram insurgents. But using these militias creates risks as combatants turn to communal violence and organised crime. Over the long term they must be disbanded or regulated.
Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Far North against civilians and security forces, in particular in Mayo Tsanaga and Mayo Sava departments bordering Nigeria. BH fighters attacked Achigachia in Mayo Tsanaga department 3 May and same day looted and burnt houses in Ndaba-Blakoldji near Kolofata in Mayo Sava department. Security forces repelled BH attack on Kessa Marine base near Fotokol in Logone-and-Chari department 6 May. BH killed two vigilantes in Mayo Moskota area, Mayo Tsanaga department 8-9 May and kidnapped two students, later found dead. Suicide bombers attacked Limani, Mora, Doublé and Kolofata, all in Mayo Sava department, killing two civilians 12-26 May. BH kidnapped four girls in Vreket, Mayo Tsanaga department 15 May and four people in Gakara and Djoudé, Mayo Sava department 25 May. BH attacked Boungour military post near Makary, Logone-and-Chari department 25 May killing soldier. Over 11,000 Nigerian refugees returned to Nigeria during month, some reportedly forced to leave by Cameroonian security forces. Anglophone minority in North West and South West regions maintained protest against perceived govt marginalisation: several hard-line groups emerged encouraging violence to enforce general strikes; to appease protestors govt 16 May launched recruitment of 80 Anglophones into National School of Administration and Magistracy.
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.
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.
The Boko Haram insurgency is weakening in the Lake Chad basin, but its underlying socio-economic drivers remain to be addressed. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017, we urge the EU and its member states to support regional governments with winding down vigilante groups, funding youth employment projects, rebuilding agriculture and trade, and restoring public services.
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.