Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 November 2019:
Following the conclusion today of the three-day visit of the joint peace mission to Cameroon, led by Baroness Patricia Scotland – Secretary General of the Commonwealth; the Chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission – Moussa Faki Mahamat; and the Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) – Louise Mushikiwabo, a joint declaration has been issued.
The aim of the mission was to meet with the country’s leadership and other stakeholders to encourage momentum in efforts to address the conflict in the northwest and southwest regions of the country.
Life in Cameroon’s two English-speaking provinces has been brought to a standstill by three years of conflict, which has cost about 3,000 lives and forced 500,000 from their homes.
The dispute had been simmering for decades, but boiled over in 2016, when teachers and lawyers started to protest against the use of French in schools and courts.
The government in the majority French-speaking country responded with lethal force, provoking rebels to declare independence for the region they call “Ambazonia”, which in turn led to an even stronger military crackdown.
This is what today’s joint declaration says:
1. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Secretary-General of the International Organization of la Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland (Photo – above), undertook a tripartite visit to Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 26 to 28 November 2019, in order to exchange views with the national actors on the situation in Cameroon.
2. The tripartite mission is an extension of the visits that the leaders of the above-mentioned organizations had undertaken over the last months to Cameroon. The aim of the tripartite mission was to encourage the ongoing national efforts for the implementation of the conclusions of the Grand National Dialogue, and support the pacification of the situation, peace-building, national cohesion and unity in this important country, which is a member of the three organizations.
3. The tripartite mission held talks with the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA and the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute. It also met with the main political actors, religious leaders, youth representatives and other Civil Society Organizations.
4. The Chairperson of African Union Commission, the Secretaries General of the OIF and Commonwealth welcomed the convening of the Grand National Dialogue which ushered in a new dynamic and which recommended, inter alia, the acceleration of decentralization, the special status of the North West and South West regions, and the review of the education and legal systems, including the measures taken by President Biya to defuse political tensions. Convinced that dialogue remains the preferred path to be encouraged within the present Cameroonian context, they encouraged all the stakeholders to continue on the path of wisdom and responsibility, particularly that of the government in the implementation of the conclusions of the Grand National Dialogue.
5. The Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Secretaries General reaffirmed their commitment to support the national actors in the quest for ways and means to reach the necessary national political consensus, and the creation of conditions conducive to the conduct of legislative and local elections, particularly in the North West and South West regions of the country, in peace, national unity and in accordance with our shared democratic values. The three leaders also urged for every effort to be made in order to restore security, justice and the conditions for the resumption of normal life in the regions affected by the crisis. END