Church Leaders in Cameroon Want Neutral Body to Moderate National Dialogue

From left: Archbishop Fontem, Cardinal Tumi, and Bishop Bushu, priests standing by.
Credit: Public Domain

Church leaders in Cameroon are pushing for a neutral body, including Western countries and the United Nations, to oversee talks after the country’s President called for national dialogue in dealing with the protracted Anglophone conflict.

“The dialogue should be moderated by a neutral body, preferably an international body with Britain, France and the UN playing a participatory role,” the Bishop of Kumba diocese, Agapitus Nfon has told ACI Africa.

“If dialogue will have to bring a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the Anglophone problem, it should be genuine, inclusive, with no pre-conditions,” Bishop Nfon explained, clarifying the inclusion of France and Britain as former colonizers of Cameroon and therefore “not free from the root causes.”

Cameroon President, Paul Biya last Tuesday called for a major national dialogue to solve the crisis that has paralyzed the Anglophone regions of the country since 2016. This was a rare presidential address because he has built a culture of giving formal speeches biannually.

The national dialogue President Biya convened is slated for the end of the month and would focus on issues of national interest such as unity, national integration and peaceful co-existence.

While appreciating the gesture of the President, Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda expressed the hope that this dialogue would not only be “frank and open but it has to be inclusive of all the parties concerned and without any taboo questions.”

He also expressed the possibility and the preparedness of a Catholic-Church-mediated dialogue saying, “The Church is ready to moderate in the deliberations if invited to play this role.”

“We are ready as a Church to moderate if called up to do so” Cameroon’s Christian Cardinal Tumi has added his voice to the willingness of Catholic Church leaders to mediate the peace talks.

“Let’s give dialogue a chance,” Cardinal Tumi told ACI Africa referring to the President’s call for national dialogue and cautioned, “We must go to this dialogue with intellectual honesty and no one has the monopoly of seeking the solution to the current crisis.”

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]