Tibor P. Nagy, United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs pulled another stunt on the on-going crisis in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions as he addressed the US house of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs Thursday May 16.
Ambassador Nagy said the government of Cameroon has done nothing to resolve the conflict in the North West and South West, despite President Paul Biya’s earlier assurances that he will hold an all-inclusive dialogue to resolve the crisis. He was responding to questions put to him by members of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Ms Karen Ruth Bass asked: “In terms of the crisis in Cameroon, in the Anglophone region, we know it has been worsening over the last 18 months. And so, I wanted to know what we are doing along with our diplomatic partners to encourage negotiation.”
To this, Honourable Nagy responded: “Cameroon continues to be one of three countries that grieve my heart every night [the other two are Somalia and South Sudan]. I sat with President Biya a couple of months ago in Cameroon and he told me “yes we are interested in dialogue”, but the government has done nothing to show for. They have set up some institutions which have not done anything. We continue to press forward with our allies.”
Congressman Kenneth Robert Buck went back to the Cameroon dossier, stating that most Cameroon nationals are desperate to know what the US is doing to end the crisis.
Buck asked: “Ambassador Nagy, Thanks for your distinguished services to our country. I want to go back to Cameroon. I share chairman woman Bass’s interests there. I have a lot of Cameroon nationals who are desperate. You mentioned that the government had established some Potemkin institutions. What are they really doing to bring the two sides together? Could you elaborate on that?”
Nagy: “I understand that the Cameroonian government established several commissions. The bilingualism commission is something which on the face of it sounds good. They have been a couple of these but they have not been provided adequate budget and they have not really done anything. Because what the country needs more than anything else is a genuine, open dialogue, probably to include the Diasporas of Cameroon because they have a great deal of interest in this.
“Because sir, what is happening is that both sides are becoming further and further radicalised. Unfortunately, I believe the President of Cameroon is being told by his hardliners that he can win this thing militarily. There is no way that they are going to win this thing militarily. The violence is going to get worst in the North West and the South West. The arm for an arm literarily an eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind there. The violence will spread to the west province. It may even spread to the littoral province which is the large city of Douala.
“So there has to be something. We are very very energetically speaking with our allies. We discussed it on Monday at the Arria Session of the UN Security Council. It is so clear that everybody wants to move forward on this given the open debate. Sanctions are on the table, everything is on the table moving forward. But we have to bring the situation to an end. Else, there is a possibility of what happened in Nigeria with Boko Haram. It started as a small movement and now look at it. And it will be disastrous for the region if the Cameroon government turns these things into yet another boko haram.
“What can we do that we are not already doing? Like I said, the best we can do for right now is to just work with our allies to really make the Cameroonian government understand the need for a real dialogue and if that doesn’t happen relatively quickly, and then we have to look at the array of other tools we have in our toolkit because, frankly, the possibility of sanctions is always there. But it is always better to work in concert with our friends before we go in that direction. The frustrating thing is that it is in the interest of everybody to have a national dialogue. The situation will not end militarily. Each day, the atrocities will get worst and worst.”
“Is the permanent separation of the two regions a possibility?” Buck asked Nagy.
“I don’t believe so because I think that most Cameroonians, including in the North West and South West regions have a sense of “Cameroonianness”. And the concept of a separate state to what they call Ambazonia in my view is not realistic. It is the view of the United States of America to recognise the integrity of the country of Cameroon.”