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Catholic Peace Organization Calls for Dialogue to End Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis

End Anglophone Crisis/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic peace and charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), is appealing to the Cameroonian government to try dialogue with other parties involved in the ongoing civil crisis in Anglophone regions of Cameroon, saying that the military method that the government has been insisting upon has failed.

Fr. Ngenge Godlove Bong-aba, an official at DHPI, says that the government of the Central African country continues to ignore calls to embrace an all-inclusive dialogue with those involved in the country’s five-year conflict.

“The government of Cameroon has shunned all the calls from various stakeholders to change from a not-so-effective military approach to the crisis to an all-inclusive dialogue with those calling the shots in the troubled parts of the country as the conflict is in its 5th year,” Fr. Godlove says in a report shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, June 22.

He adds, “For over 2 months now the government forces have suffered the most as no week goes by without a few of them being killed by the use of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) or surprise attacks by separatist fighters or Ambazonia Restoration Forces (ARFs) as they are called.”

The member of the Clergy of Cameroon's Bamenda Archdiocese who is working on a DHPI Project in his home nation has made reference to several militant attacks and abductions in Cameroon in which the country’s military was unable to rescue key government officials who were victims of the abductions.

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He says that in one of the attacks that happened on June 15 in Ndian Division of Cameroon’s Southwest region, some six Divisional Delegates of different government ministries were abducted by the ARFs.

According to the Cameroonian Cleric, the abducted are the Divisional Delegates for Land Tenure, Housing and Urban Development, Water and Energy, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Economic Planning and Regional Development and the Chief of Divisional service of Surveys.

The DHPI official spoke to sources who disclosed to him that the state officials were on a land demarcation mission in Ekondotiti in Ndian village when they were ambushed and abducted by the ARFs in the morning hours of June 15, taken to the nearby bushes.

“This situation left people wondering how the kidnapping happened as missions of this nature are always given heavy military protection,” Fr. Godlove says, and adds, “The question remains whether the government forces were overpowered by the ARFs or these state officials were not being guarded by the military.”

He says that an audio message surfaced purportedly recorded by one of the members of the ARFs confirming that the six state officials were in their custody but they were not asking for any ransom for them and were rather keeping them “to show how powerless the government forces are in rescuing their own.”

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“As at now, the state officials are still being held by the ARFs and the inability of the government forces to launch a rescue mission speaks volumes on the fact that it is high time the government of Cameroon changed from a military method to that of negotiation and dialogue,” Fr. Godlove asserts.

“It is not long ago that the Director of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Centre (DDR) in Bamenda was also abducted and the government of Cameroon did nothing to rescue him and left his family to negotiate his release,” the Priest narrates.

He continues, “From every indication, it seems the government is leaving the securing of the release of the six state officials in the hands of their individual families.”

Fr. Godlove says that the abduction of the six Cameroonian state officials was preceded by a June 14 attack within the locality of Muea in the outskirts of Buea, the administrative headquarter of the Southwest region in which five public transport vehicles were burnt down.

The incident, the Priest says in the Tuesday, June 22 report shared with ACI Africa, was aimed at enforcing the infamous “Monday ghost-town rule” that requires everyone to stay indoors on every other Monday, which has been in force for three years now.

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He further says that a local police post station was also attacked in a shootout that resulted in many police officers being injured and the offices of the building destroyed and ransacked by the ARFs.

“It took a combined effort of the special forces of the military combined with the police to push the ARFs away and the whole of that day saw the people of this area of the town in a very tense atmosphere as they remained apprehensive of further attacks,” the Priest reports.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Cameroon’s troubled English-speaking regions, which has claimed the lives of over 5,000, forcefully displaced over a million internally and over 70,000 externally, is still the world’s most underreported humanitarian catastrophe, Fr. Godlove says.

The crisis, according to the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has also “decimated” over 300 villages so far.

The DHPI official has shared with ACI Africa that the work of the institute of the SACBC peace entity is to “meticulously record and report human rights violations in the country.”

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The institute is also working to rouse the international community into action, to work in bringing about an end to the protracted conflict.