EDITORIAL: Can President Biya Save The Union a Rwanda Tonight?

File photo of a Rwandan boy covering his face from the stench of dead bodies. Can this be the Cameroon of 2017? Is this what President Biya wants?

December 31, 2016

Cameroon Journal, Washington D.C – For the record, a few days ago in anticipation of President Biya’s traditional end of year address to the nation, the editorial board of The Cameroon Journal forwarded to the President an appeal suggesting what we thought is the right thing to do to resolve the present political impasse in the country.

The letter reads in its entirety;

“Your Excellency,
President Paul Biya,

Accept sincere and warmest regards from all of us here at The Cameroon Daily Journal (www.cameroonjournal.com). We would also love to use this opportunity to wish you good health and prosperous New Year 2017.

As you prepare to mount the podium on Saturday evening to address fellow countrymen and to wish them all, a peaceful and prosperous new year, we wish to remind Your Excellency, that part of the country may not actually be having a peaceful new year. That part of the country is the Southern Cameroons, popularly known as Anglophones.

You are well aware that since November ending, schools and universities in that part of the country have been shut down. You certainly are also aware that the courts here have since been shut down. Many parents in this part of the country still have their children missing, some killed, some in unknown detention camps and some still hospitalized from wounds inflicted on them by a brutal military force that your administrators unleashed on them.

Mr. President, if you want the nation to be peaceful and prosperous in the year 2017, this is what you want to tell the nation on New Year’s Eve. Tell them that you apologize for your long silence over the crisis. Tell them that you now understand the problems that Anglophones are agitating about. Tell them that early in the New Year you will call for a constitutional conference to have a peaceful redress of the injustices that have adversely affected Anglophones. Tell them that you want to be the one to go down in history as the President who resolved the country’s geopolitical crisis.

The constitutional conference should decide on what kind of governance the country should assume – especially after your presidency. These will spare you, your family and the country a lot of headache and allow you in your old age to rest in peace. But should you choose to wave this counsel by the side, know that you are initiating a Rwanda in Cameroon. At your age, is this the kind of atmosphere you want to have in Cameroon? Is this really what you want to live through? Do you want this to be your legacy? Do you want to be remembered for that?
Once more, Happy New Year.”

Of course, we didn’t get to receive any acknowledgment from the Presidency. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is that Cameroon is at the brink of a Rwanda. We are all aware that the Lawyers and Teachers Consortium that is supervising the current Anglophone front has stated vehemently that FEDERATION or FEDERALISM is the only thing that is going to get them call off their strike action. Their resolve is based on the assumption that only federalism can guaranty the gains they make in this crisis.

The gov’t should be very naïve to imagine that this crisis is still about teachers and lawyers. It is not – it’s gone past that stage. However, here is where President Biya’s message to the nation can provide the antidote necessary to heal the situation and spare Cameroon of a Rwanda.

The President can do this tonight – he can announce a general concession to ALL the demands of the teachers and the lawyers. Then follow that up by calling for a constitutional conference this January. This will meet the other demand of the consortium and Anglophones as a group.

The agenda of the constitutional conference should be very precise thus;

  1. Create a Federal Republic of two States based on the cultural history of the country,
  2. Create an Independent Electoral Commission,
  3. Abolish eternal presidential terms,
  4. Establish a rotating presidency as obtains in Nigeria so that no one cultural group has dominance in leadership.
  5. The role of gendarmes in the Southern Cameroons should be abolished.
  6. Same with the office of D.Os, SDOs and Gov’t Delegates. Elected Mayors should be made to govern their different municipalities across the country.
  7. There should never again be any appointment of Governors, they should all be elected and Governors serving in each state/region must be indigenes.

There is certainly a lot still left out here. If President Biya at his age still has any goodwill left, tonight, he did do this – and doing so will not only rekindle the union, it will save it. You can only live in denial for so long.


 

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