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“We will not negotiate with people who want to separate the country” – Issa Tchiroma

At a time when Cameroon badly needs dialogue as never as before, the Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma has dismissed every little bit of hope that citizens had for normalcy to return to the country.

In an interview he granted to the French television channel, France 24, Issa Tchiroma called the separatist leaders, “terrotists” and said “all Cameroonians are proud to know that the criminals who destroy public property, kill security forces, and deprive students from going to school and acquiring knowledge to be leaders of tomorrow have been arrested.”

The separatist leaders were arrested in Nigeria, and their location remains unknown, they haven’t had access to their families and even the minister said he doesn’t know where exactly they are but “they should be somewhere.” He also reminded that for quite some time now the Cameroon government has wanted to bring these people to justice to answer for their crimes on Cameroon soil, through an international warrant for arrest.

Backing this request for their arrest, he said “a majority of people living in the Northwest and Southwest are against secession.”

But then looking at what the minister said and the situation at hand, most Cameroonians who have witnessed firsthand what is going on in these regions and have a conscience will not agree that there should be dialogue without the Anglophone separatist leaders or that their arrests will make these regions calm.

This is because ever since they were arrested, some areas of these regions have been very tensed, classes have been disrupted, some business places have been shut down after calls have been made by activists to respect ghost towns in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. To crown it all violence seems to be the order of the day especially in the Southwest region, even though the government hasn’t made any official statement on this, lives have been lost, citizens have been rendered homeless after the military burned down a whole village, some have also fled because of insecurity.

Responding to the accusations made by Cardinal Toumi on the acts of the army especially in the SW regions, Issa Tchiroma said “secessionists are using the clergy as an instrument,” in other words the clergy is being manipulated.

He also added that investigations are currently going on, on the situation in the Southwest Region, and he will brief the press once findings are brought to him.

Concerning the long awaited dialogue his response was “how do you want to ask the Cameroonian government to sit on a table with a population whose purpose is to amputate part of our territory?”

“It has not been seen anywhere in the world, it cannot happen in Cameroon. We do not negotiate with those who want to amputate part of our territory to build a hypothetical Republic,” Tchiroma added.

He concluded by saying that the separatists are intoxicating the citizens, who seem to have forgotten the history of the referendum in Cameroon, which was done by the United Nations. Same United Nations that has been calling for dialogue all this while. No one knows when it will start, but one thing is clear, the government doesn’t want separatists to be part of the dialogue.

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