By Eric Tataw – Wednesday July 3, 2019.
A group of US citizens from at least two African countries; Cameroon and Nigeria have said Karen Bass stands a chance of entering a special place in World History on the ongoing armed conflict in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions.
The Democratic Member of the United States Congress serving as the U.S. Representative for California’s 37th congressional district is leading a 7-man delegation of US Lawmakers to Cameroon to get firsthand information on the situation.
Cameroonians based in the US have indicated that Bass now has a huge chance to make History if she were to lead the congressional delegation to visit leaders of the Pro-Independence Movement currently held in jail in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital. They say previous international visitors aiming at contributing in resolving the conflict have always ignored by intention or omission detainees who are the epicenter of the crisis.
Nigerians who are also friends to most of the leaders also added their voices, National Telegraph has been told. Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, the President of the Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, an outlawed government fighting for the restoration of the statehood of the former British Cameroon and nine other members of his government are held at the Kondegui Principal Prison, a high security detention facility in the country’s capital.
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius and eleven others were arrested in Nera, a hotel in Abuja, Nigeria on Friday, January 5, 2018. Ten of them would later be extradited to Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, an act that has been described as a bootleg. They’re being accused of fueling the armed conflict that has broken out in the two English-speaking regions. They’ve all denounced their Cameroonian Nationality, insisting that they’re of Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia, a self-proclaimed new nation.
To the US citizens, as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, who introduced legislation calling on the government of Cameroon and all armed factions to respect human rights and the rule of law in addition to adopting nonviolent methods to resolve conflict, Bass would get a better understanding of the situation if she visits the leaders as well as other detainees, including Mancho Bibixy, who invoked communal support for the Revolution.
Others also hold that Bass should set up meetings with priests especially the Bishop of Mamfe, Andrew Nkea who is the first Man of God to have visited torched villages, refugees and who also has firsthand information on the killing of civilians, including a Kenyan Priest. There are also high recommendations Bass meets Abdulkarim Ali, a Muslim Scholar with detailed knowledge of the situation on the ground as well as rights lawyer, Barrister Agbor Balla.
Bass was on Tuesday July 2, 2019 at the Star Building, official workplace of Cameroon’s Prime Minister, where she held talks with the country’s Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute alongside Peter Henry Barlerin, US Ambassador to Cameroon. The delegation is expected in Buea and Bamenda, said a source to National Telegraph.
Bass has also told Cameroonian authorities to negotiate with armed separatists in the country’s two English-speaking regions, National Telegraph has gathered. Over 400 villages have been torched, thousands held as political prisoners, over 2 million either internally displaced or in other countries as refugees. Thousands have also been reportedly killed by members of the Cameroon armed forces.
Early May 2019, Bass initiated a resolution cosponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI); Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX); Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC); Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); and Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) calling on the Government of Cameroon and all armed groups to respect the human rights of all Cameroonian citizens, to end all violence, and to pursue a broad-based dialogue without preconditions to resolve the conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
Unrest in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions began in October 2016 as a disagreement in language but government mismanaged it, turning it into an armed conflict with a demand by majority of Anglophones in the North West and South West for a separate state called Ambazonia as it was in 1961. Many are now asking the International Community to look at the root cause of the conflict from 1961.
Armed separatists have also been accused of torture and human rights abuses according to a recent Human Rights Watch report but they’ve denied any wrongdoing, saying that government soldiers now dress like Ambazonia fighters, commit crimes and blame it on separatists.
Meanwhile, according to credible reports from the US Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin, reputable Human Rights Lawyer Agbor Balla and Bishops of Mamfe and Kumbo, the Cameroon military has been wrapped in several war crimes.
Many pundits hold that calling on government to talk with armed separatists is the hardest thing the US Lawmaker and her team have asked of Paul Biya Regime although the country’s Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi holds they are not against talks, especially after stating the country can’t be divided. Reports say Bass would hold meetings in Buea and Bamenda, among other towns.
There are also suggestions that when in Buea, the delegation should travel by road to Kumba and in Bamenda, they should make round trip to Batibo. These would give them first hand appraisal of the devastation, within public view, of some of the towns and villages in the war-torn regions.