By Monica C. Nkenganyi
New York, USA
The leader of the Ambazonia independence cause, Dr. Cho Ayaba has extended gratitude to all Ambazonians putting the honor of the flag first over every other issue. A few months ago, the President of the Ambazonia Governing Council assured Ambazonian citizens as well as the international community that despite the robust and most often acrimonious internal debates within the Ambazonian revolution, the leadership has remained strong. These assurances from the leadership of the Governing Council were based on strategic and tactical measures being put in place progressively for the self-determination agenda of Ambazonia, some of which must remain classified based on their sensitive nature.
The Ambazonia Governing Council had initiated efforts aimed at bringing together leaders from all the liberation movements to two days working session in Europe, from May 27 to May 28, 2019 under the theme “Capacity Building towards a Negotiated Settlement.” At the end of the just-ended sessions in Brussels, Belgium, all Ambazonian liberation movements have jointly issued a statement expressing the willingness of the Ambazonian people to engage in third-party mediated negotiations that respect the will of the “Sovereign people of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia to resist all forms of colonial domination” by the Republic of Cameroon.
Reacting to the statement, Dr. Ayaba reiterated the expected commitment of participants to the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia once and for all. What is at stake now, he added, is for Ambazonians to direct all their efforts towards the homeland; to give the support of the entire over 8 million strong people of Ambazonia to the brave freedom fighters, and defenders of human rights, human dignity and the territorial integrity of Ambazonia.
Responding to why it is extremely important to support the self-determination cause in the homeland, Dr. Ayaba drew a direct correlation between the determination of the people against annexation and diplomatic victories. He reminded the Ambazonian people that the famous Eritrean independence advocate, Taha Mohammed-Nur in an interview in September 2005 stated that when Eritreans in the early days of their freedom cause were in search of international support, Diallo Teli, the then Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), told Eritrean diplomats: “No one will listen to you unless you are powerful.” The Ambazonia leader has been very consistent on his strategic stance that Ambazonia should and must never enter negotiations from a position of weakness.
Dr. Ayaba was quick to point out, however, that the exercise of power must be directed against the illegal occupation of Ambazonia by Cameroun, for the protection of the vulnerable civilian population especially women, children, the elderly and the sick. He reiterated that the assurance of effective territorial control and administration will eliminate opportunistic behaviors against local populations. The wayward behaviors, he went on, will triumph whenever there is a governance void like the current situation in Ambazonia where the colonial government of French Cameroun has lost legitimacy in the homeland, in the neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities, and has been rejected by the Ambazonian people. It is necessary, he went on, to progressively establish a coordinated and disciplined force across the territory that does not only effectively contend against the attempts by Cameroun to continuously occupy Ambazonia through its military brutality, but equally to keep the peace among the people, and defend them from internal and external malicious agents. Such a force will equally assist the population and the internally displaced persons with the provision of humanitarian assistance. These, according to Dr. Ayaba are the responsibilities of what is now dubbed the “Contender Force”, working hand in glove with the civilian population.
Stressing further the relationship between the “Contender Force” and diplomatic progress, the President said, “What the international community is looking for right now is whether there is an alternative force on the ground that can guarantee security, uphold human rights and the respect of international law”. He added that without Ambazonia constituting a disciplined power structure on the ground, the international community will be forced to see the government of Cameroun as the sole guarantor of both territorial governance and the protector of civilian lives in Ambazonia.
Speaking elsewhere with the spokesman of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, Tapang Ivo Tangku, Dr. Ayaba emphasized that any forces defending the homeland must be aware that the international community in addition to holding the Yaoundé regime principally accountable for atrocities in Ambazonia, will also hold each group, each one or fighter responsible for their actions. He emphasized the fact that the requirement for the respect of human rights and international laws governing conflicts is universal.
The strengthening of the Ambazonian leadership and ground contenderhood are happening at a time when Cameroun finds itself under enormous international pressure to cease all hostilities in Ambazonia.
On May 28, 2019, the Cameroun Minister of Communication, Rene Sadi, addressed a statement to the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Consular Posts as well as representatives of international organizations accredited to Yaoundé claiming that the government of Cameroon has not opted for a military solution to the current conflict – although its soldiers are killing thousands of armless civilians and burning down towns and villages daily. He further attempted to dispute the assertion that the ongoing conflict has affected 4.5million people, a figure that has been largely stated as factual by the United Nations Council on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Catholic Caritas Bamenda, and many other human rights and humanitarian organizations.
The main objective of the Communication Minister’s statement was to appeal to the international community not to intervene in the prevailing conflict, with the claim that international peace and security are not under threat and that Cameroon prefers an “endogenous Camerounian solution.” What it failed to state, however, is that the conflict has caused over 35,000 refugees now in Nigeria, significantly diminished international trade in goods in the war-torn areas as the Cameroun government is unable to guarantee a safe transportation system, and the flow of arms from neighboring countries into Cameroon has significantly increased since 2017.