The Cameroon Anglophone crisis, which has been rocking the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon for about four years now and counting, might have intrigued another era of horror on the nation, after the Appeal Court recently maintained her verdict passed in 2019 on the separatist leaders. The life Imprisonment verdict for the ten leaders of the Ambazonian separatist movement which was passed in 2019 was upheld on Thursday September 17, 2020.
According to Journal du Cameroun, It took just less than twenty five minutes for the court to uphold the sentence. Last year, heavy fines were slammed on the separatist leaders by the Yaoundé Military Tribunal. The ten detained leaders of the Ambazonia separatist movement: Julius Ayuk Tabe, Cornelius Kwanga, Dr Egbe Orock, Barrister Eyambe Ebai, Dr. Fidelis Nde Che, Dr. Kimeng Henry, Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor, Prof. Augustine Awasum, Barrister Shufai Blaise and Tassang Wilfred were ordered to pay 1.250 billion FCFA to the state as damages and 2.12.5 billion FCFA to the civil party. The detained separatist leaders were accused amongst others of, secession, rebellion, hostility against the fatherland and non-possession of national identity cards. Presiding magistrate Mindjimba Mindjimba wasted no time in upholding the sentence after consulting with the State Prosecutor for any objections.
Stance of Separatist Leaders and Government of Cameroon
The verdict on the separatist leaders describes the intransigent nature of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis and it’s far reaching consequences. While in jail, the separatist leaders have stood their grounds on complete independence of “Ambazonia” while the government of Cameroon has vehemently refused to dialogue with the separatist leaders, despite all sort of international pressure, as the government insist Cameroon is one and indivisible. Last year, the Government organized a Major National Dialogue which was to make peace and look for a way forward in bringing back peace in the nation. Although this conference went on smoothly, with various stakeholders present, it was considered a sham, as the separatist leaders were not involved and the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon still going through horror after the holding of the dialogue meeting.
Calls for ceasefire
Despite numerous calls for a ceasefire by national and international bodies, especially that of the United Nations, calling for a global ceasefire because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Anglophone crisis has only worsened, with random crossfire between the Cameroon military and separatist fighters, which has left many lifeless. Bamenda, a town in the Northwest Region of Cameroon is presently in turmoil as the town is experiencing a curfew. Other towns in the Southwest region of Cameroon still suffer from Kidnapping, beheading and random military raids.
Consequences of the Verdict
The recent stance of the Appeal Court of Cameroon might only worsen the situation in the two English speaking Regions of Cameroon, as most denizens were hoping the separatist leaders will be released and the government organizes a sincere dialogue between the two parties (Separatist and Government). While the separatist leaders are in jail, their counterparts in the diaspora have taken the lead, imposing curfews and continuing the fight for separation.
Adversity of the Anglophone Crisis
In the midst of the Brutal crisis, civilians have been left to pay the price, as they are caught in between two elephants (the Cameroon military and separatist fighters). Most at times they are being molested, kidnapped, beaten and even beheaded. According to Human Rights Watch, Over 3,000 civilians and hundreds of security forces personnel have been killed in the Anglophone regions since 2016, when the crisis started. The unrest in these regions led to the displacement of over half-a-million people. Over 220 villages have been razed according to the Center for Human Right and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA. Worst of all, Government forces and armed separatists have killed, violently assaulted, or kidnapped people with disabilities as they struggled to flee attacks, or because they are left behind.
With the recent verdict by the court, the Cameroonian people remain worried as the Cameroon Government and separatist leaders have preferred dialoguing with the gun. The atmosphere still remains very bleak in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.