Etta B. Solomon, AmbaNews24, Frankfurt, Germany
In about the last three weeks, there has been significant commotion within the Ambazonian populace on what Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others in jail did on Thursday, July 2, 2020, when they met with Eko Eko Cameroun’s Director of Intelligence Services (“DGRE”), who claimed to represent the Cameroun government. When Sisiku Ayuk turned the meeting into a matter of political propaganda for self-legitimacy against his archrival, Sako Samuel, the Cameroun government through its Minister of Communication, Rene Sadi, quickly issued a press statement that made the Kondengui talks nothing but another regime bluff.
To understand the fake Kondengui-Talks, one must know the fundamental policy of Cameroun in resolving the Ambazonia War of Independence and the underlying principle in that policy. If there is anyone who has understood that policy so well and has been wise enough not to fall for the traps it orchestrates, it is Dr. Cho Ayaba, President of the Ambazonia Governing Council.
The current policy of the Yaoundé regime in dealing with the Ambazonia-Cameroun conflict is: “Home Grown Solutions.” Period! In this policy, the Cameroun government implies that the solution to the Ambazonia War of Independence must come from within Cameroun and be spearheaded by the Cameroun government. The creation of the Bilingualism Commission and the convening of the “Grand National Dialogue,” for example, which have all failed to yield any fruits are the products of this policy.
The underlying principle in this policy is control of the solution process and outcome. The Cameroun government wants to be in full control of the conflict resolution process and as such impose the solution. The reason the Biya regime has resisted any credible, third party internationally mediated negotiation at a neutral location is that it does not want to give up absolute control of the solution-process, which can lead to an outcome that Yaoundé does not want.
Both the dead Swiss-led process and the recent failed Kondengui process were all orchestrated in line with this policy and its underlying principle, although the Swiss-process was more sophisticated. Why and how?
Ambazonian movements have been insisting on a third party internationally mediated solution path for years. The Cameroun regime decided to throw a bait in the Swiss-process: it will appear international, and thus attractive to those unsuspecting, uncritical and gullible Ambazonians, but Cameroun will maintain control behind the scenes. Switzerland will simply be a smokescreen. To achieve this, the Swiss process will intentionally lack the standard elements of a credible international third-party mediation process in an independence struggle which root cause is in the UN system. There will be no UN Special Envoy to the process; there will be no other countries at the table, including no other nation chosen by Ambazonians to act as guarantors or otherwise (no multilateralism); and there will be no back-channel discussions that ensure and assure both parties that each other has fully and officially committed to the negotiations before the existence of any talks are made public. This will create a fertile ground for Yaoundé to maintain control of the process through Switzerland.
When the Ambazonia Governing Council insisted that the now failed Swiss-process be standardized to render it credible, Switzerland and Cameroun resisted. When officials of the Swiss Foreign Ministry asked to meet with some top officials of the Ambazonia Governing Council at the end of last year, the Swiss were quick to insist that no other representative from any other country can be present. Unfortunately for them, the Governing Council was wiser by insisting that the contact and talks can only hold in another country of their choice, hosted by that country. The Cameroun regime had tested the waters and realized that by the standardization requirements that the Ambazonia Governing Council was putting forward, Cameroun will lose control of the negotiation process. Thus, the Cameroun government decided not to commit to the Swiss-process, and that led to its demise. Ambazonia was saved!
The Kondengui-talk with Ayuk is the fifth attempt by the Cameroun government to maintain its principle of control of the Ambazonia-Cameroun conflict resolution process so it can impose a solution. The first was talks with Barrister Agbor Nkongho and Dr. Fontem Neba in the same Kondengui, which achieved nothing but the release of the duo from jail. The second was the creation of the Bilingualism Commission, which value has ended on papers. The third was the “Grand National Dialogue” convened by the same Cameroun government, which ended as a monologue of the Biya regime talking to itself. The fourth was the Swiss-process trap. And now, the fifth – Etoudi has gone back to Kondengui. This time not to meet Nkongho and Fontem, but Sisiku and other vulnerable prisoners of war.
In the Kondengui-talk with Sissiku Ayuk et al, the Cameroun government selected those to talk with (Ayuk and some others who have declared themselves to be for the “One Cameroun” agenda); decided the location and time to bring them before Eko Eko; decided what the subject of the talks will be (ceasefire, not the root cause of the conflict); and made sure there was no UN Special Envoy or any other international third party present. What a way for the Yaoundé regime to maintain absolute control!
At least in Switzerland, those uncritical Ambazonians who went there chose their representatives; in Yaoundé, the Cameroun government chose the members of the other party. Switzerland at least had the semblance of a neutral location; Yaoundé is totally under the control of the Biya regime – not even Maurice Kamto has breathing space there. If Switzerland was frying pan, Yaoundé is fire!! Ambazonia, the Africa dream nation of freedom, justice, and happiness deserves neither the dead Swiss-process nor the failed Kondengui talks with Ayuk.
Unfortunately for the Cameroun government, Ayuk turned his meeting with Eko Eko into a publicity stunt that made the same regime that had defined the prisoners of war as “terrorists” look stupid, weak, and ridiculed. No government talks in the open with those it has categorized as “terrorists,” whether they be truly terrorists or just so labeled by the government for public relations purposes. Any such talks take place in deep, deep secret. The moment the talks go public before a deal is made, or before the talks get to a point that publicizing them will rather make the government look good, it is standard practice for the government to deny them, call the talks a bluff, and abandon them. Did Ayuk know this?
The Cameroun government began with Barrister Agbor Nkongho and Dr. Fontem in Kondengui. It has gone full circle and returned to Kondengui. It has only two options left: outright military victory on the ground or submits to a credible, multilateral third party mediated negotiation at a neutral location under the auspices of the UN – as the Ambazonia Governing Council has been calling for. The government may attempt many more “homegrown solution” tricks, but only one of these two options will end the ongoing Ambazonia War of Independence. The military option is mission impossible; the credible negotiation alternative is the only way out. Time is not on the side of Yaoundé; it is on the side of Ambazonia, which like a tapeworm is eating up and crumbling Cameroun slowly from within.