George L. Nyukighan, Washington D.C, USA
The Cameroon government has sent a high level delegation to Washington DC to plead with the USA to reinstall Cameroon as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). A second purpose of the mission is to present to the USA the Cameroon government’s envisaged “special status” proposal for the occupation of Ambazonia and its people, in the hope that the USA will succumb to it.
The delegation led by Paul Ghoghomu, Minister of Special Duties at Cameroon’s Presidency met with Amb. Tibor P. Naggy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs on Monday, November 25, 2019. Also present in the ten men and two women delegation was Felix Mbayu, Cameroon’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Cameroon is making this move despite its pride, arrogance and attack on the U.S government after the Trump Administration informed Congress two weeks ago that it will be suspending Cameroon from participating in AGOA come January 2020. The attacks against the U.S.A did not only come from Cameroon’s Minister of Communication in his press conference last week, but included economists such as Gladys Mebenga at the University of Yaoundé II who claimed that Cameroon can be successful without the U.S.A.
Cameroon government’s media assault on the USA prompted the Ambazonia Governing Council under the leadership of Dr. Cho Ayaba to issue a counter on November 21, 2019, defending the actions of the USA, and stating that the Ambazonian People stand with the U.S in its decision to suspend the Biya’s regime from AGOA.
Afraid of both the economic hardship that will progressively hid Cameroon from non-participation in AGOA and the changing position of the U.S.A from a consideration of the conflict as a matter between the Cameroon government and separatist rebels to a conflict between “two Cameroons,” two separate peoples with two distinct colonial histories, the chickens are now coming home to roast!
In 2018, Cameroon exported roughly $220 million in goods and services to the U.S.; $63 million of it under AGOA, over 90 percent of which was crude oil. Losing AGOA is an economic chock hole for the Biya’s regime.
While the Ghoghomu delegation left Washington DC to New York to meet with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to make the case for “home-grown solution” to the ongoing Ambazonia independence-Cameroon conflict, the President of the African Union (AU) Commission, Musa Faki Mahamat, headed to Yaoundé at the behest of Guterres in a mouse-and-cat game.
AmbaNews24 has learnt from reliable sources in Washington DC that the U.S State Department had informed both Guterres and the Mahamat that unless the Biya’s government took significant satisfactory steps to negotiate an end to the ongoing conflict, the USA will take greater sanction measures – unilateral and otherwise – to end the systematic atrocities of the Yaoundé regime on the Ambazonian people.
The U.S has been further angered not only by the abusive media attacks of the Yaoundé regime on the U.S Ambassador to Cameroon, Amb. Peter H. Barlerin, and on the U.S. government in general, but also by the refusal of the Biya regime to receive a delegation from Switzerland that has offered to facilitate an end to the conflict. On November 22, 2019, the Cameroon government told the Swiss delegation that it was not ready to receive them, which was simply a diplomatic way of saying it rejects the Swiss-facilitation process.
The Swiss government in July 2019 announced that it had received mandates from both sides to negotiate an end to the conflict. This was inaccurate. The Cameroon government had not granted a formal mandate to the Swiss, who were eager to make a public statement to fend off other mediators that were ready to step in.
The Swiss Ambassador to Cameroon, Pietro Lazzeri and Antione de Saint-Afrique, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Barry Callebaut food processing company had met with Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the Secretary General at the Cameroon Presidency in May 2019. The subject of the meeting was to lobby Cameroon for a cocoa deal with Barry Callebaut. AmbaNews24 learnt from reliable sources at the Cameroon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Antione de Saint-Afrique stated at the meeting that to access the cocoa market in Ambazonia’s territory, Switzerland could “intervene and hasten” an end to the conflict. Ngoh made a side comment, lauding the offer as something that will be good for both countries.
The duo from Switzerland on May 22 mentioned the same in a meeting to Biya, and received a verbal appreciation similar to that of Ngoh. The Swiss construed that for a mandate, only to find out months later that Biya’s words mean nothing without his signature; and even when there is a signature, he can change his mind on whatever he signs whenever he pleases – if he ever signs.
The Swiss have staked their credibility on their hurried announcement, and are hoping that the Americans will bail them out with pressure on the Cameroon government to commit to the Swiss-facilitated dialogue.
Some Ambazonian movements such as the Ambazonia Governing Council and the IG-faction of Seseku Ayuk Tabe raised procedural concerns on the Swiss-facilitation process. They requested that the Swiss should first get a formal commitment to the process from Cameroon, that the process be multilateral, be backed by a UN Resolution, take place in neutral grounds, and special envoys be appointed to the process to give it national and international credibility before they can commit to it. AmbaNews24 has learnt from two sources in the Swiss government in Geneva that the Swiss have accepted that these are legitimate issues, and are addressing these concerns beginning with securing a formal mandate from Cameroon.