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.
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.
Originally published in African Arguments
As standoff between govt and Anglophone minority persisted, violence increased significantly in Anglophone North West and South West regions. Anglophone militants carried out eight attacks against military and police during month, killing at least ten. In North West region, one gendarme killed in Jakiri and two more in regional capital, Bamenda 6-7 Nov; Dr Ayaba Cho Lucas, leader of putative Ambazonia Defence Force, 9 Nov claimed responsibility and later launched fundraising campaign to set up army for Anglophone regions. Unidentified assailants killed soldier near Nigerian border 9 Nov. In Bamenda, four bombings caused no casualties 14 Nov, and unidentified assailants shot dead policeman 19 Nov. In South West region, four soldiers killed in Aborkem 29 Nov and next day at least two policemen killed in Otu. Five schools in North West and one in South West region set on fire 31 Oct-30 Nov. In response to violence, security forces raided homes and seized weapons, killing at least two people. Govt issued arrest warrants for fifteen secessionist leaders 9 Nov. Main opposition party Social Democratic Front boycotted parliamentary session 14 Nov in protest against govt’s handling of Anglophone crisis and disturbed sessions 23-24 Nov and 29 Nov to call for dialogue on crisis. Opposition politicians and civil society in Bamenda 26 Nov called on govt to hold national dialogue, release prisoners and grant amnesty to Anglophones in exile. Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Far North: insurgents killed six people 2-5 Nov; killed four people, kidnapped six and burnt schools in Kerawa-Mafa, Talakachi, Igawa, Wawaride, Bornori and Vouzi 6-12 Nov. Suicide bombing killed four in Kolofata 20 Nov. BH attacked lorry on Maroua-Kousseri road and kidnapped three people 28 Nov. In two incidents Multinational Joint Task Force killed three BH 3 Nov and at least a dozen BH members surrendered during month. Cameroonian army captured senior fighter Abba Goroma.
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.
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.
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.
[Home-made bombs and attacks directly targeting Cameroon's security forces] can be explained by the radicalisation of the population in these regions due to the police repression and arbitrary killings.
[Attacks in Cameroon] can be explained by the radicalisation of the population due to the police repression and arbitrary killings, but also by the rivalry among the separatist movement.
Le déni, le mépris des autorités camerounaises et la brutalité des forces de sécurité et de l’armée contre les avocats et les enseignants ont créé une onde de choc dans toute la communauté anglophone.
We have seen a government that is not responsive to the demands of [Cameroon's] Anglophone [region]. The international community [should] avoid irreversible deterioration of the situation.
[President of Cameroon Paul Biya] cannot allow people to gain the impression that [demonstrators in English-speaking regions] have any power whatsoever. It’s a very absolutist system.
[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.
La crise ouverte voici presque un an dans les régions dites anglophones (Nord-Ouest et Sud-Ouest) du Cameroun persiste.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
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.
The plight of refugees and the internally displaced from the Boko Haram conflict in Cameroon’s Far North is adding to the many burdens of an already impoverished population.
Originally published in Africa Research Institute