Southwest Civil Society Organisations Network, SWECSON, has, in a press release, congratulated President Paul Biya for convening a National Dialogue, but urged that the said dialogue should just be a prelude to a real National Dialogue where representatives of Anglophones will be chosen at an All Anglophone Conference.
In a press release issued by the network after a recent meeting of its members, in Buea, SWECSON cited historical blunders by successive Francophone-led governments, which culminated in grievances today held by dissenting Anglophone voices. To solve the problem, SWECSON opined that the crisis must be tackled from its root causes, and all resolutions must be aimed at preserving the two unique systems and cultures of the two entities that make up contemporary Cameroon.
The civil society network wrote that the President should “consider putting all subjects on the table for discussion, for the sake of peace, given that close to four years of war between the government security and defense forces and the fighters of the Anglophone Separatist Movements have yielded neither a winner nor a loser.”
On values closely guarded by the two systems that merged to form present-day Cameroon, the civil society leaders urged the President to “stop the continued assimilation of the Anglophones through the systematic destruction of its Anglo-Saxon institutions, culture and way of life.”
To the civil society leaders, for a national dialogue to succeed, it must be held out of Cameroon, to ensure the participation of all parties, and should be chaired by a neutral person. On the issue of the form of state, they opined that it must be in a way that will lead to “the constitutional recognition of two separate and distinct political cultures…”
SWECSON members also suggested that the mandate of the President should be cut down to four years, renewable once. They further opined that there should be an immediate declaration of ceasefire, followed by the withdrawal of military and separatist fighters from the streets. They also called for the unconditional release of Seseku Ayuk Tabe and all other Anglophone detainees arrested within the context of the crisis. They also asked for amnesty to be granted jailed Anglophones and those in exile because of the crisis.
SWECSON also recommended the creation of an Anglophone Civil Society Development Fund; the enactment of a constitutional provision not changeable by any President in power, recognising the distinct and separate Anglophone legal, education and political systems in Cameroon. They also called for the rehabilitation of airports of Tiko, Mamfe and Bamenda, into international airports; the enactment of constitutional provision for the creation of two autonomous States with elected Prime Ministers or Governors accountable to the people.
For their role in the dialogue, the civil society organisations stated their readiness; “to be involved in the pacification of the Anglophone Crisis and supporting the relevant governmental and international institutions in bringing about real and concrete development to the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
The release was signed by Louis Nkembi, SWECSON’s President, and its Secretary-General and Treasurer.