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.
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Fighting continued in Anglophone regions in west between separatists and military, and among separatists; in Far North, Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks against civilians; and in Adamawa region in centre north, unidentified armed groups continued abductions. Hours after President Biya 30 Nov signed decree creating National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Committee to encourage Anglophone and BH militants to surrender, separatists fired gunshots in Buea (Southwest) and Bambui and Bambili (both Northwest) to show their disapproval. Leader of armed group in Ndian (Southwest) 14 Dec promised to hand over weapons to govt and surrender. Separatists 1 Dec abducted traditional ruler of Nso (Northwest). Military 5 Dec killed five people in Meluf-Kumbo (Northwest). Civilian killed in fighting between separatists and military along Buea-Kumba road (Southwest) 7 Dec. Separatists 22 Dec attacked Bangourain, West region in Francophone zone, killing one. Suspected separatists beheaded soldier in Bamenda, capital of Northwest region 28 Dec. Security forces reportedly killed at least six separatists in Binka (Northwest) 28 Dec. Fighting between separatist groups Ambazonia Defence Forces and Southern Cameroon Defence Forces led to five deaths 16 Dec. UN Security Council 13 Dec officially discussed Anglophone conflict for first time; U.S. and UK ambassadors asked for release of Anglophone detainees, immediate talks between separatists and govt and access to Anglophone regions for UN agencies and human rights NGOs. UN renewed offer of mediation. Biya same day ordered release of 289 Anglophone detainees who had committed minor offences. Ten U.S. senators 7 Dec called for political solution to Anglophone conflict and urged U.S. govt to put sanctions on individuals found to have committed gross human rights violations. In Far North, BH continued attacks, intensifying suicide bombings in Mayo-Sava department. Three attacks in Mayo-Sava and one in Logone-et-Chari 6-15 Dec left five civilians dead. In Adamawa, hostage-takers continued abductions: armed men 22 Dec abducted and later killed two men in Maber (Djerem) and 24 Dec abducted traditional ruler of Yokotodou (Vina).
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.
Since October 2016, protests and strikes related to sectoral demands have escalated into a crisis over the economic and political marginalisation of Cameroon’s Anglophone minority. Although the government has made some concessions, it must rebuild mutual trust with Anglophone actors in order to avoid instability ahead of the 2018 general elections.
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.
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.
In March 2018, Crisis Group’s Giustra Fellow, Tanda Theophilus, travelled for four weeks to the cities of Buea and Douala, which are at the heart of the Anglophone crisis that pits separatists against the government of Cameroon. He gauged the atmosphere in the Anglophone Southwest and Francophone Littoral regions ahead of the October presidential election.
Ce dimanche 20 mai le Cameroun célèbre sa fête nationale qui marque l'unité entre le Cameroun francophone et le Cameroun anglophone. Quarante-six ans plus tard, le pays est plus que jamais divisé.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique