Cameroon worries Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Tuesday November 27 2018

Mo Ibrahim. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation sponsor.

Mo Ibrahim. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation sponsor. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CHARLES OMONDI
By CHARLES OMONDI
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The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has appealed to all parties to the Cameroon crisis to use dialogue to resolve their differences.

The Foundation, in a press statement, said it was concerned about the worsening situation in the Central Africa state.

It regretted that the confrontation between the government and separatists had escalated, resulting in casualties of civilians and state security officers.

"A peaceful Cameroon is vital, not only for the region, but for the wider continent," said the statement.

Industrial strike

"Often described as ‘Africa in miniature’, Cameroon reflects the cultural, ethnic and geographic diversity of the continent. This young nation also follows the wider trends of Africa’s growing youth demographic, with 15-34-year olds constituting over 77 percent of the population in the country."

The almost two-year long violence that has gripped the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions started as an industrial strike by lawyers and teachers, but escalated into an internal armed conflict with fears Cameroon could slide into a civil war.

Violence and unrest escalated in late 2016 after a series of strikes and protests against what teachers, lawyers and students viewed as further discrimination against Anglophones. Between September 22 and October 1, 2017, large-scale protests were organised across the Anglophone regions to symbolically proclaim the independence of a new state of Ambazonia, but the government responded with violent repression.

English-speaking Northwest and Southwest

English-speaking Northwest and Southwest Cameroon. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Recurrent confrontations between armed separatists and government troops have led to the killing of dozens of people, hundreds others imprisoned while thousands have been forced out of their homes.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation statement noted that the continuing confrontation was at variance with the peaceful strike that began two years ago.

The statement explained that the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, published a few weeks ago, highlighted the ongoing governance challenges in Cameroon and captured worrisome deteriorating trends.

"The Overall Governance measure continue to show decline particularly in the last five years. This decline is manifested notably in the category of Safety and Rule of Law as measured mainly by the unsatisfactory performance relating to the Absence of Government Involvement in Armed Conflict, Absence of Government Violence against Civilians, National Security, Absence of Domestic Armed Conflict or Risk of Conflict and the Reliability of Police Services."
There was also concern in the category of Participation and Human Rights, which showed "no noted improvement and has been negatively impacted by the recent presidential elections where voter turnout in Anglophone regions was reportedly very low".

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The two English-speaking regions that have been gripped by an escalating violence, make up about 20 per cent of Cameroon's population.

The grievances of English speakers revolve around alleged marginalisation by the predominantly French-speaking Yaoundé regime and date back to the post-colonial period.

The English speakers say they suffer economic inequality and discrimination at the hands of the Francophone majority, despite a post-independence reunification deal, where they expected to be equal partners.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, sponsored by Sudanese billionaire philanthropist Mohammed Ibrahim, was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa.

The Foundation aims to promote positive change on the continent by providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance.

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