Preferring peace over war, the International Crisis Group on Thursday suggested, “the Catholic Church, representing nearly a third of Cameroonians, could be an arbitrator, but its clergy have taken divergent positions on the crisis.”
The think tank expressed concern over contacts between security forces and militants from Cameroon’s English-speaking minority.
The group said the government has rejected the Anglophone grievances, while armed militants appear inclined to continue fighting, taking the crisis to a different dimension.
The ICG mentioned in a briefing that other than the Catholic clergy, there are few prospective peacemakers. If no one fills that role, the separatist sentiment already voiced by many Anglophones will continue to grow, fueling further violence and worsening the ongoing insurgency in the Anglophone regions, with elections in late 2018 a flashpoint.
The Group advised that the Church should bridge its divides and state its impartiality on the thorniest question facing Anglophone regions – federalism versus decentralization. A clergy able to project a position of neutrality could work with other trusted actors to mediate between Anglophone leaders and the state and stem a dangerous and growing crisis.
“The Church has established itself as a leading actor in Cameroon’s politics, but internal divisions continue to undermine its potential to play a positive role.”
The ICG invited international actors to support Church initiatives and encourage greater unity among the clergy.
Discussing this same topic on RFI, the president of the Fako Lawyers Association, Barrister Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla explained that not only the catholic church but other religious leaders should be invited to intervene in this crisis.