The Boko Haram insurgency is on the wane in the Lake Chad basin but continues to carry out attacks against civilian and military targets in Cameroon’s Far North. The war has killed 2,000 Cameroonians, displaced 170,000 and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defence groups. Meanwhile, Cameroon’s Anglophone region has experienced violent flare-ups as the central government represses dissent over the perceived marginalisation of the English-speaking minority. Crisis Group aims to reduce conflict risks in the Far North and to promote confidence-building measures and better governance to defuse the Anglophone crisis. Through field research led by our analyst and advocacy with the government as well as with national and international stakeholders, we work to increase the likelihood of peaceful presidential elections in October 2018.
Après vingt mois d’affrontements, Yaoundé et les séparatistes campent sur leurs positions. Entre la sécession voulue par les séparatistes et la décentralisation en trompe-l’œil que propose le gouvernement, des solutions médianes doivent être explorées pour conférer plus d’autonomie aux régions.
Boko Haram (BH) upped assaults on security forces and civilians in Far North, violence intensified in Anglophone areas in west, and authorities continued to repress opposition. In Far North, in deadliest attack since 2016, BH militants of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction attacked Darak outpost of Multinational Joint Task Force on Lake Chad night of 9-10 June, fighting left at least sixteen Cameroonian soldiers and eight civilians dead, military claimed to have killed 64 militants. BH launched smaller attacks 9-22 June mostly in Logon-et-Chari division, but also Mayo-Tsanaga and Mayo-Sava, killing nine civilians and at least one soldier. Govt forces continued efforts to crush Anglophone separatist insurgency in Northwest and Southwest regions. In Northwest, dozens of ethnic Fulani, reportedly encouraged by security forces, attacked residents of Wum town 3 June leaving at least one dead. Following 9 June clashes between soldiers and separatists in Esu village (Northwest) which left one soldier dead, security forces reportedly attacked Esu killing twelve civilians. Near Bamenda, capital of Northwest region, suspected separatists 18 June ambushed army convoy killing one soldier; same day suspected separatists briefly kidnapped 40 people. In Southwest, suspected separatists 15 June detonated roadside bomb killing four police in Otu village. Suspected separatists kidnapped archbishop of Bamenda 24 June and main opposition party leader John Fru Ndi 28 June, releasing both after one day. Separatist group Ambazonia Interim Govt 22 June said it was holding informal talks with govt. Switzerland 27 June said conflict parties had tasked it with facilitating talks. Authorities cracked down on opposition protests in Yaoundé, Douala and other towns 1 June, arresting about 350; about 100 released 3 June. Security forces 8 June prevented further protests, arresting about 23. In Geneva, where President Biya was staying, some 250 Cameroonians 29 June protested, demanding end to his rule; security forces dispersed crowd as it marched on Biya’s hotel.
Le risque de violences autour du scrutin du 7 octobre est élevé dans les régions anglophones mais existe aussi ailleurs. Le gouvernement devrait lutter contre la montée des antagonismes communautaires dans tout le pays et parvenir à un cessez-le-feu, au moins temporaire, avec les groupes armés anglophones.
Le gouvernement camerounais devrait chercher à encourager les redditions de membres camerounais de Boko Haram. Des travaux communautaires, des confessions publiques, des cérémonies symboliques et des formations professionnelles peuvent permettre la réinsertion de ceux qui ne constituent pas un danger. Le gouvernement doit aussi préparer la démobilisation de certains comités de vigilance.
The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is growing deadlier. The Catholic Church could mediate between Anglophone militants and the state, but clergy have espoused clashing views on key issues. The Church should heal its divides so as to be a neutral arbiter that can broker peace.
La lutte contre Boko Haram dans l’Extrême-Nord du Cameroun, la région la plus pauvre du pays, a exacerbé la situation économique déjà précaire et bousculé les rôles socioéconomiques. Le gouvernement et les partenaires internationaux devront mettre en œuvre des politiques de développement qui tiennent compte des stratégies d’adaptation et de résilience des populations aux nouvelles réalités économiques.
Against a backdrop of bomb blasts, sporadic violence and repressive state measures, Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis has entered a new and intensified phase. In order to prevent the outbreak of an armed uprising, Cameroon’s president must go beyond superficial measures by urgently implementing key reforms and pursuing inclusive, high-level dialogue mediated by the UN or African Union.
We are not yet in a civil war [in Cameroon], but all the ingredients for a potential civil war are already assembled.
The main issue for Ambazonian groups [in Cameroon] is that they really lack finance. If they had money to buy weapons, train and feed their people, they could raise an army.
With the troubles in [Cameroon's] Anglophone regions and the persistent threat from Boko Haram, the 2018 elections will be a greater challenge than previous votes.
[Cameroon's President Biya] should quickly initiate a political dialogue on federalism or decentralisation or it’s possible that the Anglophone side will be radicalised even further.
Cameroon is heading into elections against a volatile political and security backdrop. Palpable political tension, instability in the English-speaking regions and attacks by Boko Haram [persist].
There’s a real risk of rebellion [in Cameroon] that could make the Anglophone regions ungovernable. [...] The Anglophone crisis calls the foundations of the Cameroonian state into question.
Cameroon went to the polls on 7 October amid several crises, notably the conflict between the government and Anglophone separatists. Crisis Group’s expert Hans De Marie Heungoup, in Cameroon during the vote, says it has compounded the country’s problems but also offered reason for hope.
Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director, says the crisis over Cameroon's 7 October election is the worst for 25 years, adding new risks in a country already on the brink of civil war due to the Anglophone crisis. Tensions may rise further once the election results are officially announced.
La conférence générale anglophone peut constituer une étape décisive dans le règlement de la crise anglophone, en cours depuis plus d'un an. Les organisateurs, les différents acteurs anglophones, la société civile, et les partenaires internationaux du Cameroun doivent pousser le gouvernement et les chefs de file séparatistes à dépasser leurs réticences.
Originally published in Le Monde