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 and Anglophone minority in North West and South West regions maintained calls for dialogue with govt to resolve standoff, despite some technical concessions by govt. Two girls, estimated aged sixteen to eighteen, under BH orders detonated explosives strapped to them 3 April at Mora, Mayo Sava department, killing only themselves. Military 4 April repelled BH attack on Gouzda-Vreket post, Mayo Moskota area. In Mayo Sava department, suicide bombing 8 April killed bomber and three others at Kolofata; BH same day attacked Ganai killing six and Sandawadjiri killing one; suicide bombing at Kolofata 19 April killed bomber and four others including a gendarme; and BH same day attacked Mbereche killing one person and kidnapping three girls. IED 24 April hit military vehicle in Homeka, Mayo Sava department killing at least three soldiers. BH fought vigilante community defence group in Achigachia, Mayo Tsanaga department killing five members 26 April; suicide bombing in Tchakarmari, Mayo Sava department 28 April killed only bomber; security forces same day fought BH in Ndaba, Mayo Sava department, several BH and one civilian killed. About 100 BH members including men, women and children surrendered during month in several villages in Mayo Moskota and Kolofata areas. Govt end March detailed measures it would take to address claims of marginalisation by minority Anglophones in NW and SW regions, including to promote use of Common Law and increase Anglophones in judicial system. Govt 20 April restored internet in NW and SW regions after three-month cut. General strike eased in SW, remained strong in NW.
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.