By Denis Atemnkeng
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I am not a prophet of doom, but as far as this our struggle for freedom is concerned, I cannot run away from certain issues. I am part of the boat, and if it sinks, it sinks with me inside and I do not want that to happen. I am not yet convinced there will be any dialogue without pre-conditions, but in the unlikely event that it happens, let me sound the warning bells to our people.
We all praise the virtues of dialogue; we all know that dialogue is a way to solve problems, but there are conditions attached to that idea: provided both parties and all stakeholders accept the FACTS of the case and want to go by them.
In the case of the Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) struggle for independence, dialogue in this case, is an attempt to get the people of the Southern Cameroons to negotiate with armed robbers who have taken control of our space of existence on earth. Anyone going to negotiate or dialogue with an armed robber who is surrounded by people claiming that the property in the hands of the armed robber is that of the armed robber should be specifically aware of the dangers facing them.
Yes, there are many things we shall negotiate about, but only after determining that the armed robber (La Republique du Cameroun) has no right to the property in their possession. All negotiations before that critical point has been reached hold grave dangers. You may say it is at the dialogue that you would prove that the property is yours. But I remind you that dialogue is not yet a court of law. Some see it as the bargaining table of give and take, and therefore truth and justice may take a far secondary place. What do we have to give and to take in this issue?
Therefore, I state these facts once more to Southern Cameroonians:
- Dialogue is not necessarily an opportunity for truth, justice and the rule of law to prevail. It all depends on the facilitators, who may have their own agenda.
- The matter at stake is not a matter that can be resolved through some game by politicians called dialogue: it is a supreme matter to be decided by the people themselves. Simple issues like constitutional matters are subject to referendum. How can a matter of this gravity, which deals with the existence of a whole people, be simply a matter of dialogue? How? Does this ring a bell to you?
- Dialogue, in this case, is only a bait for power mongers. On the Ambazonian side, every claimed leader, whether they know our case or not, will insist to be part of the dialogue. The facilitators will know how to exploit this power mongering very well!
- This dialogue is a way to cut out the voice of the silent and suffering majority of the eight (8) million Southern Cameroonians bearing the brunt of the war daily.
- Not one of the potential facilitators has spoken of solving this crisis based on truth, justice and the rule of law.
- Not one of the potential facilitators has accepted the fact that this is not a domestic affair of Cameroon. They all call our country, Ambazonia, the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. Is this a denial of the facts? Is this pretense? Is this falsehood? Is this ignorance? Whether this is genuine or not, remains to be seen. But beware of how the facilitators see themselves: the king makers of this world! They rule the world and decide who will have what!
- Not one of the facilitators has insisted to go by the facts of the case and not by assumptions. Some timidly spoke of the root causes, but thereafter we hear only of dialogue without pre-conditions.
- Of all the possible facilitators, how many are on the Southern Cameroons side?
- With the mix on the Southern Cameroons side with varying philosophies, if the facilitators gang up against us, we are finished!
- For those who clamor for dialogue, how are they preparing themselves against the eventualities hinted above? If they are the ones who break off the dialogue (which hopefully may never come), will the world not abandon us to our fate?
- Have we agreed on the dialogue team and held our own meetings to agree on how to proceed once in the dialogue? Who is leading the dialogue on the Ambazonian side? Or will it be a power struggle between the various IGs, the Restoration Council and the SCLC? Etc., Etc.
- Given the above, I insist once more that the only way to take the wishes of the people of the Southern Cameroons into account in this conflict is through a UN- organized referendum! There is no other mechanism by which to take the wishes of our people into account! A referendum will prevent any manipulation by outside forces; it will silence the power mongers; it will give back control to the silent majority suffering in the Ambazonia homeland. With dialogue, we are risking too much! Yes, the dialogue may come after the principle of a referendum has been agreed upon by all parties. Our leaders should not jeopardize this struggle by blindly going into a dialogue without seeing what is awaiting them there! They ought to secure the principle of a UN-organized referendum then go for dialogue which will focus on the details of the referendum. Thereafter, the second dialogue will hold on separation terms, because there is no miracle by which a UN-organized referendum can go against our sovereignty.
Yes, you may say it is too late. We have already accepted dialogue. Nevertheless, the issues we have raised can still jolt our leaders to reflect on this dialogue carefully and take what measures can still be taken, if the dialogue were to happen at all. We can be more vigilant regarding the facilitators; we can take a position on referendum now, not later; we can take measures to put the Ambazonian side in order, and so on. But let us never count on dialogue as a solution to this crisis. LRC [La Republique du Cameroun] will never walk out of the Southern Cameroons through dialogue! It will walk out through a referendum!