, 06 November, 2019 / 3:45 AM
As Cameroon strives to find solutions to end the protracted Anglophone crisis, a Bishop in the central African nation has raised concerns about the seeming mistrust between civilians and the military and encouraged the re-establishment of trust as a recipe for lasting peace.
“There is complete breakdown of trust and confidence between the military and the population,” Bishop Andrew Nkea of Cameroon’s Mamfe diocese told ACI Africa in an interview and added, “We must rebuild that trust.”
Bishop Nkea identified the involvement of the military in the reconstruction of civilians’ houses that were torched during the crisis as a concrete way of restoring the trust between the two entities.
“It is very difficult to go and see someone in Nigeria sleeping under the bridge and you say come back home,” Bishop Nkea said hinting to the state of life of refugees and added, “the military must be actively involved in reconstructing the houses, it will help to restore some confidence.”
He also called for an end to counter attacks between the military and the separatist fighters popularly known as “Amba Boys” because, “in the end the civilian population is suffering.”
The Bishop of Mamfe also recommended the formation of a “truth and reconciliation commission,” which, he said, is important because “both sides have committed all sorts of atrocities and it is not just easy to throw a blanket over it and move on.”
The formed commission, in his considered view, “will go round to help the soldiers and help the boys (Amba Boys) to confess some of the things that they have done and ask for pardon so that we can have a holistic approach to this search for peace in Cameroon.”
Speaking about the September 30 – October 4 National Dialogue that was held to propose solutions to the Anglophone crisis, the Bishop urged the government not to relent its effort to reach out to those who did not attend.
“I think very strongly that the government should not relent in its efforts to get emissaries to the people in the diaspora who did not come,” the Prelate said and added, “We can’t just say, they did not come to the dialogue, we are going ahead. Those people have influence on the ground.”
He sought to understand the possible justification for those who declined participation in the National Dialogue saying, “Maybe this was not the forum of dialogue they want. Nothing can stop us from moving to the form of dialogue which will involve them as long as peace returns to the country.”
According to Bishop Nkea, “the (National) Dialogue was not a solution to the Anglophone problem,” but the “recommendations at the dialogue necessitate further meetings” to find solutions to the violence.
He proposes spiritual purification in his country because “people have done horrible things in the name of protecting themselves, in the name of immunity to bullets.”
“There is a lot of demonism that came out of all this struggle,” Bishop Nkea said and concluded in reference to the parties in conflict, “We need a lot of purification spiritually, on both sides.”
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