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Cameroon must return to federal system abolished under Ahidjo – former US Diplomat

Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Jay Cohen, has advised the Cameroon government that the only solution to the crisis in West Cameroon is a return to the original federal system that was ‘illegally abolished’ during the Ahidjo administration.

Ahmadou Ahidjo the country’s first president governed with a federal system for the first twelve years of his presidency. But in 1972, the federal system was abolished for a United Republic of Cameroon directed from Yaoundé.

The former diplomat is not the first person making this recommendation as a means to resolve the socio-political crisis in Cameroon, so many others have. These recommendations started in 2017, when negotiations were still ongoing between the government and a consortium for the civil society, all of a sudden, the Cameroon government banned the consortium that it was having talks with and put an end to the debate of federalism.

Federalism was later on brought back on the table, but then at a time when the rhythm of the drums had changed; a resurgence in the push by southern Cameroonians to secede from French-dominant Cameroon. A similar agitation that started in the late 1990s.

The anglophone crisis has now taken a violent turn as separatists elements have staged guerilla style attacks on security forces killing over twenty of them. The two Anglophone regions (North West and South West) have also been under curfew for the last few months. At least 20,000 Cameroonian refugees from anglophone regions have been registered as asylum seekers in Nigeria, the United Nations refugee agency said this March.

Now the government says it is impossible to have talks, because they cannot negotiate with people who do no longer want to discuss federalism but separation.

 

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