Cameroon has recently rejected Canada’s offer to mediate in the ongoing separatist conflict that has ravaged the country for the past seven years. The Canadian foreign ministry had announced last week that Cameroon and some separatist factions had agreed to a peace process, with Ottawa assigned to facilitate the negotiations. However, Cameroon’s government spokesman, René Emmanuel Sadi, stated that the government had not mandated any country to act as a mediator or facilitator in the western regions where the separatist movements are active.
This denial of Canada’s mediation role has deflated hopes for talks to end the prolonged conflict that has resulted in thousands of deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Rebel groups such as the Ambazonia Interim Government and the self-declared Republic of Ambazonia have also rejected the Canada-led talks, stating that only armed conflict would lead to the liberation of Ambazonia, an English-speaking state that they are fighting to carve out from the French-speaking majority Cameroon.
The Cameroonian government has argued that it is already implementing efforts for peace agreed upon during a 2019 national dialogue on the separatist conflict. However, several rebel groups, including those with leaders based in Europe and the United States, did not participate in that dialogue for fear of arrest. They have instead called for talks to be organized outside of Cameroon and facilitated by foreign mediators. Switzerland has also attempted to mediate the conflict, but with limited success.
The separatist conflict in Cameroon has had devastating consequences, with Canada estimating that the conflict has resulted in more than 6,000 deaths since 2017, the displacement of 800,000 people, and the deprivation of 600,000 children’s access to education. It is evident that the Cameroonian separatist conflict is a complex and deeply entrenched issue that requires a multifaceted approach to resolve. The rejection of Canada’s offer to mediate highlights the need for all parties to come to the table and engage in meaningful dialogue in order to find a lasting solution. It is crucial that all stakeholders, including the government and rebel groups, work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, as any further escalation will only lead to more suffering and destruction.