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Prelate Lauds “atmosphere of peace, tranquility” in Cameroon after “secret” Gov’t Talks

Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Cameroon's Bamenda Archdiocese.

An Archbishop in Cameroon has lauded what he has described as “an atmosphere of greater peace and tranquility” in in the Central African country following recent talks between the government and rebel groups in a meeting whose details he said remain scanty.

In July, this year, Cameroon's Government officials met some of the foremost leaders of the Anglophone separatist groups for the first time since the conflict began in 2016.

Making reference to the meeting in a report published Friday, October 30 by Agenzia Fides, Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of  Cameroon’s Archdiocese of Bamenda said that after the talks, the situation in Bamenda and some Anglophone regions “seems calmer” than before.

“We can say that after the talks a few months ago the situation seems calmer,” Archbishop Nkea said and added, “There is an atmosphere of greater peace and tranquility among the population, schools have reopened and many children have returned to class. This is undoubtedly a good sign.”

Archbishop Nkea’s observation comes days after some armed men attacked a school within Cameroon’s Catholic Diocese of Kumba, a widely condemned assault that left at least seven children dead and dozens injured.

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In his report that does not make any reference to the October 24 attack, the Archbishop of Bamenda noted that the development of the talks between Cameroon's government officials and representatives of leaders from the troubled Anglophone regions in the country were hidden from the public domain.

“I think something is happening in secret,” the Cameroonian Archbishop said, and added, “For our part, we are doing everything we can to reactivate the dialogue and keep it open at all times in order to find a solution to the conflict as quickly as possible.”

In reference to the official negotiations to end conflict in the country, however, Archbishop Nkea said that “no progress has been made and at least officially we have no news of recent or scheduled meetings.”

“At the end of September, at the end of the 69th meeting of the Bishops' Conference of the Bamenda Province, we Bishops of the English-speaking regions wrote a public statement. In the letter we made several requests to the government and the faithful that received much media coverage,” Archbishop Nkea said.

He regretted that they are yet to receive “any indication of a response from the government.”

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The July meeting with Julius Ayuk Tabe, a separatist leader currently serving a life sentence in prison on terrorist charges, discussed the possibility of a ceasefire that is yet to be seen concretely in a country that continues to witness attacks in its Anglophone Northwestern and Southwestern regions.

Mr. Ayuk who spoke to the media following the meeting did not, however, disclose details of the meeting but only said, “Be reassured that we remain committed to the restoration of the independence of the homeland.”

The self-declared president of the English-speaking region of Cameroon christened Ambazonia further added, “This war has made us see the resilience of the Anglophones from an ideological point of view.”