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.
Court’s sentencing of ten Anglophone separatist leaders to life in prison sparked rise in clashes in Anglophone areas, and separatists could intensify violence in Sept to enforce planned economic lockdown; Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Far North. In Northwest region, separatists 4 Aug ambushed security forces at Alabukum reportedly killing six. Security forces 7 Aug reportedly killed six civilians in Njinikom. In regional capital Bamenda, fighting 12-18 Aug left at least fifteen dead including ten civilians and five soldiers. After Yaoundé military tribunal 20 Aug handed down life sentences to ten Anglophone separatist leaders, fighting erupted in Bamenda between separatists and security forces, leaving at least two dead. Separatists same day called for three-week “lockdown” in Anglophone regions starting 26 Aug, prompting thousands to flee Anglophone regions; from 26 Aug businesses remained closed and inhabitants stayed at home. Clashes between security forces and separatists 24-25 Aug reportedly left at least 40 dead in Ndop, Bafu, Kumbo, Bamenda in Northwest, and Mamfe and Kumba in Southwest. In Southwest region, security forces 9 Aug clashed with separatists killing unspecified number. Separatists 16 Aug abducted two Catholic priests in Kumbo, releasing them two days later; 21 Aug abducted sixteen civilians, releasing them next day. Security forces searching homes killed seven civilians in Mautu and Banga Bakundu 11-15 Aug. In Francophone Littoral region, separatists 4 Aug killed one soldier and one civilian in Penda-Mboko. Cardinal Tumi 3 Aug advocated for federalism as only solution to Anglophone crisis. Meetings between PM Dion Ngute and organisers of Anglophone General Conference led by Cardinal Tumi 16 and 29 Aug bore no progress toward conference. In Far North, BH attacks on villages and clashes with security forces 1-20 Aug left ten civilians, six soldiers and five militants dead. BH 20 Aug abducted a dozen bus passengers and later reportedly killed four near Dabanga; 22 Aug abducted three children in Krawa-Maffa. BH militants 27 Aug killed two near Amtchoukouli; 30 Aug abducted a dozen near Kolafata. Suspected Nigerian pirates 15 Aug kidnapped seventeen seamen off coast of Douala. Court 8 Aug sentenced 41 activists of opposition Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon to six months in prison for involvement in protests following Oct presidential elections.
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