By Monica C. Nkenganyi AmbaNews24 Correspondent – New York, USA
The intransigence of the Cameroon government in conceding to truth and justice that it illegally occupies Ambazonia in colonial-style, and the Cameroon government’s associated use of barbaric military tactics to fight against the Ambazonian people’s quest for self-rule has reached a tipping point with Donald Trump and Paul Biya facing each other recently.
It is rare for the president of a country to issue a statement, signed by his own hand, indicting another country for gross and systematic human rights violations relating to the self-determination cause of another people. But that is what President Trump of the USA did on October 31, 2019 when he informed the U.S Congress that come January 1, 2020, Cameroon will be under U.S economic sanctions for continuous human rights violations by the Biya government in Cameroon. “These violations include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention and torture,” by Cameroon security forces against the Ambazonian people in the latter’s legitimate quest for independence and sovereignty. More than 5,000 people have lost their lives on both sides in a war that has affected over 3.5million people and caused more than 450,000 persons to become internally displaced and created no less than 35,000 refugees by United Nation’s records.
In this economic sanction, Cameroon will be suspended from participation in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), from which Cameroon has been fetching billions of FCFA from the USA. This is what a country where one President, Paul Biya, has been acting a horror thriller version against civilians since Michael Jackson released “Thriller” in 1982 deserves for its use of helicopter gunships on armless Ambazonian protesters.
In the international community, Cameroon Republic is a beggar! It begs for everything under the sun from Paris to Beijing, from Russia to the corridors of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington DC, etc. And when pride and arrogance become the reigning character of a beggar, he must get ready to sleep for days with an empty stomach under the rain.
When the club of Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) bigots, a group of Biya hand clappers took to the media and vilified the respectable U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter H. Barlerin for telling Biya to “think about his legacy and act like Nelson Mandela and George Washington” who favored and fought for the freedom of the oppressed and the dominated in South Africa and America respectively, achieving the independence and sovereignty of both nations from British tyranny, the Biya cronies thought they were attacking armless Ambazonians who will take six decades to fight back. Unfortunately for them, they were walking into American carrot landmines ready to explode. In that statement, Amb. Barlerin told Biya in wise diplomatic words that unless Biya favors the freedom of the oppressed people of Ambazonia and fights for it irrespective of the opposition he may get from foes within his ranks and from foreign powers seeking their self-interest, he will go down in history as a genocidaire, a violator of human and people’s rights, and a war criminal whom the USA will not spare!
When the Cameroon government rather persisted in its usual hubris and self-destructive ego while being a beggar to attack the U.S Undersecretary for African Affairs, Tibor P. Nagy Jr., accusing him of meddling in Cameroon’s election fraud politics, they were putting poison inside their own cup of tea. When the same class of corrupt Cameroon officials seeking favor from an octogenarian Biya took to the media to beckon their master to “kill Ambazonians like Hitler exterminated the Jews in the holocaust,” they reinforced the stage to bite the finger that is feeding them. Time has caught up with Cameroon, and it is only going to get worst till the king realizes he has no clothes on.
Ambazonian freedom fighters have brought production in the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) to a virtual halt, forcing the autocratic Cameroon government to be losing over US $500,000 (FCFA 300million) every month. The lone oil refinery in Ambazonia’s territory, SONARA, which Cameroon relied on for over U.S $100million (FCFA 59billion, 450million) every year in revenue to run its tyrannical state stands today in ruins, consumed by a fire in June this year with no insurance to rebuild. There is no hope that the refinery will become functional in the next two years.
Just when the economic sabotage strategies of Ambazonian guerilla fighters are running Cameroon’s coffers dry – forcing the Cameroon state to become incapable of paying many public service workers – Trump slams economic sanctions on despotic Cameroon that will further deprive the authoritarian regime of U.S $477,744,402 (CFA 284billion) in foreign trade revenue annually. This is coming less than a year after the USA in January 2019 placed military sanctions on Cameroon, suspending U.S. $17million (CFA 10billion) in military aid to the Biya’s government for gross human rights violations and use of U.S military equipment meant for the fight against Boko Haram to rather slaughter Ambazonian civilians.
The sanctions announced by President Trump exactly one month after the Biya’s Major National Dialogue in Cameroon ended are America’s symbolic rejection of the National Dialogue as too little, too late. They constitute the U.S.A’s message to Cameroon that the organization and outcome of the dialogue event that has yielded no fruits were nothing but a distraction. The Yaoundé regime, it should be noted, continued its senseless killings and burning down of houses, villages and towns in Ambazonia while it was holding the National Dialogue, dubbed “Biyalogue”.
Yes, the National Dialogue was a distraction advised by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Its purpose was to divert international attention from the scrutiny of Cameroon’s barbarism against the Ambazonian people, which had received damning resolutions in the Basque Country Parliament, in the European Union, and in the USA Congress. It was intended to get the international community off the back of Cameroon – but all efforts fell off the cliff in barely one month when President Trump, through the economic sanctions, basically told Biya that the Yaoundé regime cannot fool the world.
The recent sanction from the U.S is also coming at a time when Cameroon is unable to tap the money it was expecting from the sale of concessions at the seaport in Douala. There, the French and the Swiss are in a standoff. The Swiss company, Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) had offered in its bid 40% shares to Cameroon nationals and promised to give the Biya’s government U.S $601million (FCFA 357billion) in 15years. The French company, Bollore Group that has operated the seaport from 2005 to 2018 offered no such lucrative deal in its tender – it rather proposed to give U.S $105million (FCFA 62billion) to the Cameroon State within the same 15years period.
Once Bollore Group noticed that it was not among the list of pre-selected candidates for the seaport, it filed a lawsuit at the Littoral Administrative Court in Douala. The French government quickly got Biya to put an end to further transactions between the seaport authorities and the Swiss TIL until the lawsuit is settled.
Well, whoever knows Cameroon must understand that court judgements in the decadent society are dictated by the will of the Presidency and not a law in any book whenever Biya decides so!
The French are ready to go tooth and nail to fight off the new “intruder” into Cameroon’s authoritarian state affairs, namely, Switzerland. The French are daily reminding Biya that when Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the first President of the Central African Republic was assassinated for going against French interest, it was on French orders by former Foreign legionnaire David Dacko. The French are daily in the ears of Biya reminding him that per the colonial accord between Cameroon and France, the resources in the Cameroon banana republic are at the beg and call of France until when France decides it has no interest in them. De Gaulles are reminding Paul Biya that they did not spare Laurent Gbagbo and Muammar al-Gaddafi when both took economic policy positions contrary to the whims and caprices of France.
The Swiss are not ready to let go either! On October 28, 2019, the Swiss Ambassador to Cameroon, Pietro Lazzeri met with Biya, bearing a sealed envelope from the Swiss President that emphasized Switzerland’s prima position in the seaport.
The Swiss have attempted to look like a neutral party in their offer to mediate an end to the Ambazonian conflict. However, both their economic interest in Ambazonia’s cocoa and the seaport in Douala is causing Biya, by his endorsement of the French lawsuit over the award of the seaport concessions to TIL, to tell the Swiss in diplomatic terms: “you are here for your own interest, and the Satan I know is better than the devil I don’t know!”
For how long will Biya hold the guard and fight off the Swiss for the interest of the French? Almost all of his money mainly acquired by looting resources in Ambazonia is banked in Switzerland. The Swiss in their own dirty hands have welcomed such capital flight for over four decades of Biya’s rule as it serves the economic interest of Switzerland. Will the Swiss be bold enough to freeze those accounts in another round of western sanctions to force the Biya’s regime to succumb to Switzerland’s rising interest in the totalitarian Cameroon Republic, or will they continue to play “diplomatic” games while the Cameroon government continues exterminating Ambazonians? What the Swiss do will put their credibility on the line before the Ambazonian people once and for all! Time will tell, and the clock is ticking fast!
If the Ambazonian people ever wondered whether the economic sabotage strategy promulgated by their liberation struggle leader, Dr. Cho Ayaba will bear fruit – they have reason now to believe they have been on the right track and Cameroon will come crashing sooner or later. If the people of Ambazonia ever doubted whether the internationalization of their struggle was producing positive results, they have reason now to press even further as they look at the state of affairs and node their heads in the affirmative. If Biya thought that by declaring war on the Ambazonian people on November 30, 2017 he was beginning an easy ride to crush a people determined to free themselves from oppression, dominion, and illegal annexation of the their Ambazonian homeland, then he must now know that he took a pill too bitter to swallow.
Ambazonian leadership have to strategically take advantage of the squabbles over the Douala seaport, and the hammer from Trump on the head of Biya to achieve their own success. They must understand that no one, neither the Swiss nor the French are in this to help them: they are all in to save Cameroon for themselves in their rational choice, self-interest political economy outlook. They must think critically, analytically and strategically to turn the current game in their favor. This has to begin with increasing their defense capacity to take static control of their territory and giving Cameroon a solid knockout punch that will change the perception of the possible outcome of the ongoing self-determination cause in the eyes of all visible foreign actors such as the Swiss, the French and the Americans, and the invisible hands behind the scene such as the Chinese and the Russians. Time is of the essence, and it waits for no one!!