The government of Cameroon has called upon traditional rulers who fled their localities due to the ongoing conflict between the state of Cameroon and armed Anglophone separatists groups to return to their villages. They were assured that their palaces, schools, roads, markets and other infrastructure destroyed by the warring parties will be reconstructed.
The Governor of Cameroon’s Northwest Region adolphe Lele Lafrique, said the government will ensure the protection of traditional rulers from separatist fighters upon their return. “Traditional rulers should not be scared. Instead of running, they should return and face their realities. Your subjects are enthusiastically waiting for your return. Some of these traditional rulers have left their palaces for so long. You are highly awaited to return. We are here to protect them. Whatever will happen, we are there to stand up, support and accompany them.”
Further, Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute announced that the government of Cameroon has raised up to $14 million out of the $150 million required for the reconstruction in English Cameroon. The budget required will be used to construct 350 schools, 115 hospitals, 40 bridges, 400 wells and water taps, 600 kilometers of rural roads, 45 markets and 17,000 private homes which were destroyed by separatist fighters. He also called on the traditional rulers who are now residing in French speaking towns to return.
The traditional rulers have refused to return saying they still feel threatened by the clashes between military and separatist fighters in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions.
The traditional ruler of the Mundani tribe in Lebialem district, Southwest Region, Fon Lekunze who has been in Yaoundé for over 2 years as a result of tension in Lebialem, said he cannot return because peace is yet to return to Lebialem. He said that many who returned in July to preach peace were attacked, and some are still threatened by separatist fighters. He added that some of the traditional rulers have implored ‘traditional diplomacy’. They now sensitize the local populations to turn away from violence. They also use dialoguing method to plead with their children who have now turned into rebels to repent and embrace development. They are hoping peace can return to NW and SW. He concluded by saying it is only when peace return, that they can return. Because that is when they will be rest assured their lives are no longer in danger from the separatist fighters.
Traditional rulers have been caught up in-between the clashes between Cameroon military and separatists fighters. Many of them were killed or abducted by separatist because they were accused by separatist for working with the military and revealing their hideouts to them. The military also accused some traditional rulers of supporting separatist fighters. This made many of them to flee their villages and sought refuge in French Cameroon. It will be very difficult for them to return since they are threatened from both sides. The only way to make these chiefs return will be for peace to return to NW and SW.
Even with the Reconstruction Plan which has been launched, it cannot take effect because of fighting in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon. Roads, schools, houses etc cannot be constructed when the military is still battling with separatist fighters. The separatist have vowed no reconstruction will take place because the plan is from the foreign French government, and unless they withdraw their troops from English Cameroon, peace will never return to NW an SW. All of these stills boils down to the fact that unless peace return, traditional rulers cannot return to the villages.