Cameroon is beset with two major violent conflicts but also faces rising ethno-political tensions on- and offline. The bigger conflict, between the government and separatists from the English-speaking minority, started in 2017 and has killed over 6,000 people. It has displaced 765,000 people, of whom over 70,000 are refugees in Nigeria. According to the UN, 2.2 million of the Anglophone regions’ four million people need humanitarian support while about 600,000 children have been deprived of effective schooling because of the conflict. The country also faces a reinvigorated jihadist insurgency with deadly attacks in the Lake Chad area. The war with Boko Haram, centred in the Far North, has killed over 3,000 Cameroonians, displaced about 250,000 and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defence groups. Nascent ethnic clashes along the border with Chad have displaced thousands too. Elsewhere, and particularly following the October 2018 presidential election, ethnic discourse is heightening political tensions on- and offline. Through field research and advocacy with the government as well as with national and international stakeholders, Crisis Group works to de-escalate conflict and promote a peaceful resolution in the Anglophone regions and the Far North as well as to stop ethno-political tensions from sliding into violence.

CrisisWatch Cameroon

Unchanged Situation

Anglophone conflict persisted while jailed separatist leaders appealed for Nigerian help; political tensions bubbled ahead of 2025 elections.

Low-level violence persisted in Anglophone regions. Separatist groups continued to enforce weekly “Monday ghost town” strikes and engage in skirmishes with govt troops, resulting in casualties on both sides. Notably, separatist militia 15 March ambushed govt forces patrol in Wainama village, Bui division (North West region), causing unconfirmed number of casualties. Meanwhile, jailed Anglophone separatist leaders turned to Nigeria for help, as prominent figure Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine others 2 March petitioned Nigeria’s National Assembly to support their release; petitioners were extradited from Nigeria in Jan 2018 and following year Cameroonian military tribunal sentenced them to life imprisonment; in 2019 court in Nigerian capital Abuja ruled arrest and deportation illegal, although then-Nigerian President Buhari took no action. Petition highlighted links between Anglophone conflict and Nigeria, as Nigerian Biafra separatists 5-8 March claimed to have attacked Cameroonian soldiers in Bakassi Peninsula. 

Far North violence decreased slightly although sporadic incidents persisted. Soldiers 4 March successfully repelled Boko Haram attack in Kolofata commune, Mayo Sava department, and 11 March killed two suspected jihadists caught stealing food from farm in Nguetchewe town, Mayo Tsanaga department.

Political positioning continued ahead of 2025 presidential election. Ruling party tightened grip on political landscape while opposition factions contemplated united front for polls; but plans over potential coalition threatened after govt 12 March banned two emerging opposition groupings, Alliance Politique pour le Changement (APC) and Alliance pour une Transition Politique (APT), accusing them of clandestine activities and prohibiting them from further political actions. Trial of seventeen individuals, including former foreign intelligence chief Léopold Maxime Eko Eko and pro-govt business mogul Amougou Belinga, charged with Jan 2023 abduction, torture and murder of whistleblowing journalist Martinez Zogo began 25 March; case, which has so far been marked by administrative interference reflecting broader power struggles within govt, will likely be key political issue in lead-up to 2025 elections.

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In The News

23 Feb 2022
The authorities [in Cameroon] should persecute those who are responsible for crimes and include women in the peace process. VOA

Arrey Elvis Ntui

Consulting Senior Analyst, Cameroon

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Arrey Elvis Ntui

Consulting Senior Analyst, Cameroon
Arrey Elvis Ntui

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