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Cameroon/National Dialogue: SDF says Neutral Personality should chair talks

The Social Democratic Front (SDF), an opposition party in Cameroon has said it wants a neutral personality to chair the national dialogue on the Anglophone crisis, which is to take place this September.

A delegation of members from the SDF was invited Thursday, September 12, to the Prime Minister’s office in Yaoundé, for pre-dialogue consultations.

During his September 10 speech, President Paul Biya mentioned that discussions would be held with various stakeholders on the mode of the dialogue, before the day of the dialogue itself.

For the national dialogue to satisfy the aspirations of the anglophone people, the SDF equally recommended the following: it must dwell on the root causes of the Anglophone problem. There must be structured openings to discuss the form of the state with the view to adopting a new constitution for Cameroon. Anglophones must be central to the discussions. In addition, the military cannot be part of the national Dialogue.

But who is the neutral personality that could chair the dialogue and can the chairperson be picked within 17 days?

A neutral personality to chair Cameroon’s inclusive national dialogue

Several political observers have been commenting about the chairperson for the dialogue; some of them think a Cameroonian should be given the honour, with the argument that Cameroon is a sovereign country.

However, others think an African and not a Cameroonian should chair the talks. Drawing reference to other African nations, that have recently held talks, which were chaired by other African Nationals; this did not make their states less sovereign.

This adds to another debate that came up after the President’s speech on Tuesday: where the national dialogue will be held.

Former African Heads of State, including Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings have emphasised that a solution requires an inclusive dialogue, according to the International Crisis Group.

The International NGO, has explained that given the level of acrimony between the parties involved for the dialogue, “the presence of an international mediator will be necessary during the preparatory discussions and then during the national dialogue.”

Several countries and international institutions and organisations have offered to mediate since the start of the conflict.

“The UN, the AU, the Catholic Church and Switzerland seem best placed to play this role, because the parties to the conflict perceive them as relatively neutral,” the NGO adds.

Nevertheless, President Biya announced that the Prime Minister and Head of Government, Dion Ngute will chair the dialogue. So, can his decision be revoked?

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