Winning Peace Not to Lose the War – Conjuring up a Utopia

Every life in Cameroon matters. The growing number of deaths recorded in recent times in the wars of North-West, South-West and Boko Haram must constitute a challenge to all citizens imbued with the values of respect for life and human dignity.

The horrific images of mutilated and desecrated corpses of Cameroonians by other Cameroonians reveal to us the abysses of savagery towards which our country is slowly sinking and it is time for us to stand up, burst out in collective indignation and say:
ENOUGH! Military history shows the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of winning a war on two fronts.

Someone who understood this too late was Hitler who, already fighting on the Western European front, opened an Eastern front against Russia. History tells us the disaster that followed.

If we have not chosen the Boko Haram war and have no other option than the military annihilation of this incarnation of Satan in the form of a murderous jihad, we must, on the other hand, mobilize all our resources, intelligence, humanity, political wisdom to stop the war in the North-West and South-West regions which is the mark of the failure of a policy, a policy of jingoism which feed on an evil spirit of denial.

“There is no English-speaking problem” it was affirmed now and again. What a display of arrogant myopia and an exercise of political trickery! To which the statement, “what can they do!” was often added.

How much can we ask those who openly proclaimed "that there is no English-speaking problem" to pay in reparation to the national community for all these unnecessary deaths, which now stand the shameful trophy of their stupidity? What do they not deserve, these fanatics, who saw themselves as heroes by trashing the professional robes of lawyers; who apparently had been wrong to think that there was still a chance their oppressors could be encouraged to lend an attentive ear to their grievances?

All they asked was for them to see "common law" as having a place in our judicial system. Where now are these arsonists to put out the ravaging fires set ablaze by their arrogance and incompetence? The blood of young Cameroonians, which is today shed in the bushes of the North-West and South-West and that has plunged many families into the painful uncertainties engendered by the loss of a son, a father, a daughter, a mother, in a war whose stupid cruelty needs no longer to be demonstrated, is on the hands and the descendants of these instigators; they who, although, being able to stop this massacre did not do it, as well as those who allow these killings to continue under the simple pretext of claiming the duty to act.

This, regardless of the fact that there still remains the possibility for their action to take more humane and civilized forms. Rather than taking refuge behind the pretentious cliché of qualifying their opponents as "bands of bandits", these people must admit having been politically mistaken or having utter contempt for the depth of the frustration of certain compatriots. For the honor and the price of blood caused by their lack of character, they should no longer be in office, by choice or by sanction.

The Choice of Reason
Faced with the spectacle of these torrents of spilled blood and the destroyed lives on both sides, it is absolutely necessary that a political solution be implemented as quickly as possible to stop this war. 

The first advantage will be that thus, we will devote more force to the Boko Haram front to definitively crush this faceless adversary without any political ideology or position.

The need to stop this war is all the more essential since the latest events on the ground show that lessons have been learnt. A careful analysis of these lessons will be invaluable in charting the way forward.

The "Ambazonian fighters" now display strategic and tactical capacities which give them the possibility to succeed in inflicting significant losses on government forces. 

While a large number of observers believe that "Ambazonian fighters" cannot achieve total military victory, they are nevertheless able to make this war last for decades, a normal length of time for an asymmetric war, some would say.

 It being understood that the
Government finds itself in a similar impossibility of achieving a military victory, except to engage in killings of the same magnitude as those perpetrated against the nationalists at the time of the independence of our country, causing serious socio-economic damage.

Economic activities in the country would thus see two out of ten regions idling. It is therefore important and urgent that the strategic mix of government policy be revised, i.e., that the combination of political action and choices of military tactics by giving itself the strategic objective not of the military victory, but the stopping of this war.

With a view to achieving such an objective, I am thinking of the implementation of the model which allowed the success of TRIPARTITE and the stopping of the “villes mortes” the day after the end of the works. The essential prerequisite, however, will be to revamp government leadership.

The Hayatou-Andze tandem of 1991 had capacities clearly superior to the ones currently occupying those functions. Once this inevitable problem of changing leadership has been resolved, the real maneuvers must then be undertaken as they were initiated in 1991.

The first maneuver consisted in establishing direct contact with the thinking heads of the most radical opposition entities and convincing them of the need to initiate a process of direct negotiations.

Prime Minister Hayatou commissioned us, the late Antar Gassagay, Moukoko Mbonjo and me to engage and convince radicals and moderates both from the political class and from civil society. 

The "four widow's children" that we were threw themselves completely into this mission and in three months, most of the political class had been convinced to take part in the Tripartite, the format of which I had personally proposed to the President of the Republic during an audience proposed to the 40 parties and which 36 had declined.

At the same time, the Ministry of Territorial Administration had taken the decision to ban Cap Liberté and its satellites which presented themselves as "unions" while the extreme wing of the radicals was marginalized.

The second maneuver was then to negotiate a format for the conversations, namely the place and the subjects to be discussed. The roadmap assigned by the President of the Republic to the Prime Minister was a minimum, namely, to discuss the Electoral Code and the Media Code. 

When we got down to work, we, the political parties, demanded and obtained that the question of the constitution be on the agenda instead of the Media Code. We made the President give in and it was a great success, the results of which were not long in coming, since the day after the signing of the Tripartite Declaration, the "Villes Mortes" stopped.

The reason for the obvious failure of the Grand National Dialogue, which did not result in a cessation of hostilities in the North-West and South West, although it was the announced objective, was due to the decision of the Dion Ngute Government to impose a format unilaterally conceived whereas in the Tripartite, it there were fully blown debates. 

These debates were carried out according in the manner that had been defined beforehand. It applied to both, plenary and in committees’ sessions. It was understood that the matters to be debated had be agreed upon beforehand and all this happened after tough negotiations.

In truth, in the Tripartite, the chairs of the three protagonists, Government, Political parties and Civil Society were all occupied.
At the Grand Dialogue, the seats meant for the radicals of the North-West and South-West were empty due to absolutely insufficient preparatory work by the government, which was more concerned with fueling the South West-North West antagonisms.

The participants from the South West having been brought there en masse to show loudly their support for their "village-brother, the Prime Minister", we thus witnessed surreal clashes like the one between Chief Mukete and Cardinal Tumi. 

We also saw the Chairman Fru Ndi at the microphone, outraged by the hordes from the South-West with a mission to prevent him from speaking. That is how the GND can be summed up: a real bluff that cost the government treasury billions for absolutely no result.

The most active fringe with radical positions in the North-West and South-West not having been associated to the work, they could not therefore feel bound by the "conclusions and resolutions" of the meeting.

Conjuring Up a Utopia

-To regain control, and as in 1991 or after the failure of the attempts at direct conversations between the Prime Minister and the political parties, then between the President of the Republic and the political parties, the Head of State had agreed to convene the Tripartite. 

Depending on the choice of the name he wants, the President of the Republic must convene a large meeting which could be called the Second Tripartite or Foumban 2 and whose protagonists would be.

- The government,
- Representatives of the former East Cameroon, political class and civil society.
- The representatives of the former Southern Cameroon appointed by an AAC3- All Anglophone Conference 3 whose organization must cease to be hampered by the administrative authorities supposedly acting on instructions.

I am going to now adorn my regalia of a traditional Chef's to say that in our traditional societies, any dispute, any conflict is resolved discussions. In this regard, it is through a frank and inclusive dialogue that "living together" is consolidated. 

Today, we have the obligation to create a favorable framework which will allow Cameroonians to say what they think by looking at each other in the eyes, rather than slaughtering each other or riddling each other with bullets. It will be stated as a prerequisite the intangibility of the State of Cameroon within its current borders. 

The central pillar of this great foundation will relate to the adoption of a New Republican Pact, NRP, which will revisit the devolution of powers at the national level and at the regional and local level, taking into account the cultural heritages of each zone.

In this regard, the example of countries with a multilingual texture which has maintained socio-political tensions such as Belgium or Canada may provide material for reflection leading to the resolution of this crisis.  

This is a clearly lit path towards a return to peace in the North-West and South-West. It is this peace that the people hunger for, that which brings hope to young people who dream of a bright future. We owe it to them and must offer it.

His Majesty Célestin Bedzigui,
President of PAL (a locally elected personality)

Culled from TGP

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