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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Dialogue to end Cameroon-Anglophone separatist crisis begins

Mark Bareta, a separatist leader who is very active on social media, was the one most open to dialogue and it was through him that invitations to the others were sent, Ewane said.

But on Friday, Bareta announced that he was pulling out, saying that “the only way to have real negotiations is to hold them on neutral territory.”

Of the 16 separatist leaders invited, those heading armed groups such as Ebenezer Akwanga and Cho Ayaba are also snubbing the talks.

Akwanga told AFP that the event was a “smokescreen for the international community rather than an attempt to secure a complete and lasting solution… to the annexation of our country, Southern Cameroons”.

Most of the leaders have expressed willingness to hold talks with the government but in the presence of an international mediator and in a foreign country with the terms for secession the main item on the agenda, according to the ICG.

However, more moderate Anglophones like Cardinal Christian Tumi, the influential archbishop of Cameroon’s commercial capital Douala, have welcomed the initiative and urged the separatists to participate.

An official from the Southwest region said traditional chiefs had asked armed groups to attend the talks but they had spurned the offer.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, however asked the groups to “emerge from the woodwork”, adding that “measures have been taken to ensure the security of those who attend.

“We cannot talk with ghosts,” the official said.

Locals are meanwhile divided about the outcome of the talks.

“No good can come of this. It’s a game,” said a hardcore secessionist who identified himself as Agbor.

“If we must go for talks, it would be to discuss the terms of separation and not anything else,” he said.

But Jeannette Benga, a prominent figure of civil society in Buea, the capital of the Southwest region, voiced hope that “the two come to an agreement.”

Blaise Chamango, the head of an NGO said the five-day talks were not enough to “debate the anglophone crisis and the other major problems in Cameroon.”

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