Africa

Commonwealth, AU team visits Cameroon over separatist crisis

A joint team from the Commonwealth and the African Union is travelling to Cameroon to meet its leaders over the crisis that has hit the central African nation for years.

A statement from the Commonwealth said the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Mahamat, and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, are visiting Cameroon from Tuesday to Thursday.

They are joined by the Secretary-General of the Organization Internationale De La Francophone, Louise Mushikiwabo.

Their visit is to encourage the “momentum in efforts to address the conflict in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon.”

The spokesperson added the Commonwealth, Dan Kell, said the groups welcomed the outcomes of the recent Major National Dialogue held in Cameroon, as well as other existing home-grown initiatives aimed at addressing the conflict.”

The three-person delegation look forward to engaging with President Paul Biya and other stakeholders on the “progress that is being made in addressing the root cause of the conflict, and how they can lend our collective support in promoting lasting peace in the country.”

‘Ambazonia’

Cameroon has suffered instability over a separatist crisis in the northwest and southwest regions of the country.

The mainly English-speaking areas want a separate country of Ambazonia, in protest against claims of marginalisation by the French-speaking majority.

In August, the leader of the unrecognised region, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, was jailed alongside nine others by a military court in Yaoundé.

The conflict started as a peaceful protest organised by English speaking lawyers and teachers in 2016. The movement was born of “frustrations that the government has assigned French-speaking judges and teachers to English-speaking courts and schools.”

The government’s heavy-handed response to the protest led to an escalation.

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