The Stream

Is Cameroon hurtling towards civil war?

As violence escalates in the Anglophone region, calls for dialogue grow louder.

Social media is flooded with horrific images and videos of violence in Cameroon. Villages burning, beheadings, bodies mutilated piled up on the road. A conflict between the government and separatist rebels in the Anglophone region of the country is escalating, and neither side is showing signs of backing down. While the military calls the separatists “terrorists,” the separatists have accused the military of genocide.

Violence first broke out in the northwest and southwest of Cameroon in October 2016. At that time, lawyers and teachers went on indefinite strike saying they were mistreated and marginalised socially, economically and politically by the government of the Francophone majority nation. Those protests led to calls for secession and reignited a separatist movement that was calling for the creation of the independent “Republic of Ambazonia”. In November 2017, President Paul Biya declared war on the separatists.

In June, Amnesty International published a report in which it criticised both sides for using excessive force and said that civilians were being caught up in extreme violence. The United Nations estimates that more than 150,000 people have fled the northwest and southwest regions, often crossing into Nigeria.

Rights groups and other African nations are now calling for talks between the two sides but the separatists say they will not sit down until the self-declared president of the “Republic of Ambazonia” Ayuk Tabe – who was arrested in January – is released.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Edwin Ngang @GovAmba
Adviser, “Republic of Ambazonia”

Ilaria Allegrozzi @ilariallegro
Lake Chad researcher, Amnesty International     

Ndjeng Manga   
Francophone Cameroonian

Issa Tchiroma Bakary @ITBMINCOM
Minister of Communications, Government of Cameroon

Read more:

Cameroon: A turn for the worse: Violence and human rights violations in Anglophone Cameroon – Amnesty International
The dangers of Cameroon’s war of words – The Economist 

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