By Andrew Nsoseka
The US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, has chided the Government of Cameroon for standing in the way of dialogue to resolve the Anglophone Crisis.
Ambassador Tibor Nagy was speaking in a press conference which was aimed at outlining the new US policy in Africa.
Quizzed on what the US stand on the Anglophone General Conference initiated by Cardinal Tumi and other religious leaders in Cameroon, Ambassador Nagy said: “…Again, that would be one mechanism to promote dialogue. We would encourage the Government of Cameroon to actually promote dialogue instead of standing in the way of it. Who knows which dialogue or what format would succeed in taking the nation forward? But this is an extremely serious problem for Cameroon. I believe in November the number of fatalities were the highest so far in the Crisis. October was the second highest, September was the third highest. So the trends are extremely negative and dialogue, urgent dialogue is desperately needed whatever form it takes.”
On what he made of President Biya’s order for the release of some 289 people detained in connection to the Crisis, Ambassador Nagy said: “the release of those folks I think was a positive step… The Crisis did not erupt overnight. It has been a long time in making. It’s a long-term historical Crisis that goes back decades. It goes back to the union of the two parts of Cameroon. It goes back to the fact that the Anglophone population of Cameroon have felt like second-class citizens for a long time.
“The immediate Crisis goes back to 2016 where a lot of Anglophone teachers and lawyers were protesting because they felt like they were being Francophiled. What Cameroon needs more than anything is a genuine dialogue between all concerned so that the space which unfortunately has been filled by some of the radical elements can be given back to the moderate voices… Cameroon has a 1996 Constitution in place, which has some very positive elements for decentralisation. It would be wonderful if that part of the Constitution could be implemented…I believe that what’s needed is genuine dialogue. But the release of these people who had been charged with misdemeanours was a positive step.”
Meanwhile, responding to another question on why the US Senate recently took a resolution against the Government of Cameroon, asking for the liberation of Sisiku AyukTabe, Ambassador Nagy said it was “because there’s tremendous interest within all branches of the US Government towards this Crisis. The United States is greatly concerned with what is going on in Cameroon. I mean, we consider Cameroon a long-term friend, we consider it essential for the stability in that Region of Africa. As we all know, Cameroon has tremendous potential. It has phenomenal natural resources; it has a highly educated, industrious, entrepreneurial population. It could easily rocket forward in progress and prosperity and stability.
“So because of that, the United States is greatly concerned with events there. And the frustrating thing is a lot of this was needless. As I said, we all know the history, we all know where this is coming from, and the Anglophone population of Cameroon would very much like to be considered as first-class citizens. And there is a sense in what they feel … It is up to dialogue and true dialogue to move this process forward.”
The diplomat, however, outlined US new policy towards Africa, especially in the domain of trade, partnership and the fight against terrorism. He also addressed the issue of rising Chinese and Russian interests on the African continent and how they will affect the US interest.