Cameroon’s Anglophone Faith Leaders Welcome Canada Peace Talks, State Express Rejection

Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province (BAPEC). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Religious leaders in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have taken a stance different from that of the State, welcoming Canada’s announcement of a planned dialogue between the government and separatist leaders to resolve the protracted conflict in the two English-speaking regions of the Central African nation.

On January 20, Canada's foreign ministry announced in a statement that warring parties in the Anglophone crisis had agreed to “enter into a process aimed at resolving a conflict that has killed over 6,000 people”, Reuters reported.

“Canada welcomes the agreement by the parties to enter a process to reach a comprehensive, peaceful and political resolution of the conflict,” Canada’s Foreign Minister, Mélanie Joly, was quoted as saying.

The statement of the Canadian government official further indicated, “Canada had accepted a mandate to facilitate the process and the parties have agreed to form technical committees to begin work on confidence-building measures.”

While the Cameroonian government has reportedly expressed rejection to Canada’s announcement, religious leaders of the North West and South West Regions have, in a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, January 24, welcomed the move by Canada, and urged the parties in conflict to pursue negotiations in “honesty”.


“Having been first hand witnesses to the ravages of war and the evils that have come with the armed struggle in these two Regions of Cameroon and as frontline advocates of peace, we, the Religious leaders of the North West and South West Regions welcome this statement as a major step towards the search for true, sustainable, and lasting peace in these two Regions,” the religious leaders say.

They add, “This has been our prayer and we are thankful to God that a hopeful corridor is beginning to open for inclusive dialogue that should usher in a peaceful resolution of the distressful socio-political crisis in the English-speaking Regions of Cameroon.”

“As Religious Leaders, we remain independent and sovereign – the voice of the voiceless and therefore we wish to appeal to all the stakeholders in this peace process to be honest, God-fearing, sincere, humble, and patriotic throughout the entire announced peace process and let the spirit of God assist them in their deliberations,” the faith-based leaders say in the statement dated January 23.

They appeal for prayers for the success of the peace talks, saying, “It is our hope and prayer that all the parties will keep aside their personal and/or political or other exclusive interests, but will sincerely and determinedly work for the common good, inspired by truth, justice, love, and equity.” 

“Pride, might, power and egoism should give way to humility, service, and altruistic love for the people of our country, especially the suffering masses within the conflict zones,” the religious leaders say in their two-page statement signed by the Archbishop of Bamenda, Andrew Nkea Fuanya, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, the Imams of the Buea and Bamenda central Mosques, the Executive President of the Cameroon Baptist Convention and the representative of the Anglican Church, 

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Cameroon’s English-speaking regions plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters. 

School boycotts have become common in these areas, as have enforced moratoriums on public life known as "ghost towns".

In their January 23 collective statement, religious leaders in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions appeal for an immediate cessation of violence.

“As we heartily welcome this announcement of a peace process, it is undeniable that violence is still a reality in the two affected Regions. Killings, kidnappings, roadblocks, lack of free circulation, intimidation and abuse of human rights are still rife and the population is still subjected to a lot of fear and insecurity by various forces,” they lament.

The faith-based leaders appeal “to all carriers of firearms to stop violence with immediate effect as this will promote confidence building and credibility as well as a conducive and assuring environment for the announced peace process to thrive.”


“It is our hope that the members of the international community, especially the African Union, the European countries that colonized Africa, and the United Nations Organization, will show an indefectible interest in this crisis in the North West and South West Regions and assist without bias or prejudice in the resolution of the crisis for the common good of the people of Cameroon,” they add.

On its part, the government of Cameroon has faulted Canada, describing it as a an “external entity” that does not have the mandate to settle the Cameroonian crisis.

A statement issued by the government's spokesperson on Monday, January 23 said, “The Government of the Republic of Cameroon has not entrusted any foreign country or external entity with any role of mediator or facilitator to settle the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions.” 

“It is first and foremost up to the Cameroonian people, to the institutions and leaders that they have freely chosen, to seek appropriate ways and means to address problems facing our country,” Communications Minister, René Emmanuel Sadi, further said.

However, in a January 23 statement, Ms. Joly’s Press Secretary, Adrien Blanchard said, “We are in touch with the parties and our previous statement still stands.” 

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He said representatives of Cameroon’s government had “attended all of the earlier meetings in Canada that led to the agreement.”

In their January 23 collective statement, the religious leaders in the Anglophone regions appeal for prayers.

They say, “We call on everyone who believe that the Almighty God of peace can resolve any and every conflict amongst humankind, to join us in prayer that the Devil and his agents (both human and otherwise), may not destroy this peace process which announcement concomitantly announces hope to our suffering people.”

“We appeal and pray that all of us should be positive and be pro-peace in this process till we attain it,” they further implore.

On January 22, after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to various places of conflict including Cameroon.

The pope expressed hope that progress is being made toward a resolution of the conflict in English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

“I encourage all the signatory parties to the agreement to persevere on the path of dialogue and mutual understanding because the future can be planned only in encounter,” the Holy Father said.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.