During the Buea Colloquium which preceded the 53 years anniversary of dependence under La République du Cameroun, the Head of Government, Mr Yang Philemon, called on the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) to form a political party to demand their rights. What a shame for him to utter such statements? As a Southern Cameroonian, he witnessed the fraudulent transitions that occurred at the time. However, if the people of southern Cameroons fall for this crafty manoeuvre, they may have succeeded to kill their hopes of ever obtaining self-determination.
As Prime minister, he is just the head of government and has no authority to negotiate an issue relating to State Sovereignty. I wondered at the time why he gave the false impression that he could obtain more rights from the ‘la Republique’ regime, when his then Secretary General, Louis Paul Motaze, executed direct instructions from the presidency – a clear example of how Southern Cameroonians are undermined, even when in positions of authority. The problem of Southern Cameroons independence is not only an ‘Anglophone’ problem, a ‘minority rights’ issue, or a ‘cultural violation’. It originates from the coming together of two former territories that accepted to be recognized as one federal state. It was the will of the people as stated in article 47 of the Federal Constitution that no change to the form of state (federal) as agreed and enshrined in the constitution was acceptable. So the idea to focus on the ‘Anglophone problem’ which is only a result of the main problem shifts the debate to secondary issues. Two states coming together to form a federal government symbolized by two stars on the flag, with two prime ministers for the federated states and two parliaments, etc… That was the agreed structure.
The most basic interpretation of the some international treaties mindful of historical facts would reveal that Southern Cameroons is not part of La Republique.On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Cameroon’s Independence, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E Dr Ali Abdussalam Treki visited Cameroun (18 – 20 May 2010) to discuss issues concerning Peace, Security and Development of Africa, as well as, the role and position of the African continent with the United Nations, with the President of Cameroun H.E Paul Biya. Dr Treki handed-over 2 unique maps illustrating authentic history of Cameroon to the President of Cameroun as a special gift from the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Library archival Service.
On the said maps, was the map of the independent ‘Republique du Cameroun’ as obtained on the 1st of January, 1960. It should be noted that the Southern Cameroons territory was not part of this La Republique at the time it was accepted as UN member state on the 20th of September, 1961. Secondly, the Federal Republic of Nigeria obtained independence on the 1st of October 1960 and her territory did not equally include that of the Southern Cameroons. So between the 1st of October 1960 and the 31st of September 1961, Southern Cameroons remained a Trust Territory under Britain. Why then did they (Southern Cameroonians) have to vote to obtain independence directly like any other Trust territory?
The decision to choose la Republique disappointed Britain, causing them to quickly abandon their duty to accompany Southern Cameroons in the Foumban Constitution Conference. The Trusteeship Council (UN organ) abandoned its obligation to accompany Southern Cameroons to achieve independence as stated in the UN Charter. La République and Southern Cameroons were classified under the same category of trust territories that were eligible for statehood. Negotiating from those basis, the Southern Cameroonians National Council is not a secessionist group, because Southern Cameroons is not legally joined to any group. It is a Nationalist Government.
In the UN Trusteeship Council, Britain and France sat and took decisions on behalf of the Southern Cameroons and La République, respectively. Their decisions were strictly politically motivated for their interest, completely ignoring the people’s wishes, 1960 Declaration of Independence and UN Charter. Why, for instance, did La République or other Trust Territories not have an option to vote for their independence?
On the 11th of February, 1961 the UN tele-guided Southern Cameroonians and transferred the people from dependence as a Trust territory to dependence under ‘either Nigeria or la République’. Two options that did not fully consider the desires to self-determination of the people, because some factions of the population demanded independent self-government. Till date, no treaty exists, nor has any been deposited at the UN Secretariat to change the territorial configuration of La République.
Mindful of the above, the ‘Anglophone problem’ of seeking certain strategic ministerial portfolios, becomes secondary. One thing is clear, it is in the interest of la République to negotiate with Southern Cameroonians. So if individuals and political parties fight to solve the ‘anglophone problem’, they might end up obtaining bread for today and eventually find themselves encircled by some extremely powerful domineering people, who do not care the least about anything but the people they stand for. ‘Had I known’, are the words of regret that might have stirred J.N. Foncha, S.T. Muna and could be stirring Fru Ndi in his face like a scary monster.
The African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights (in the case of Dr.Kevin Gunme and Others vs. La République) held in Communications 266 that La République has violated the right to life and many other articles in the African Human Rights Charter. A multitude of legal scholars have earlier opined that such violations provide a base for secession. However, there is no right to secession in international Law. There exist a right to self-determination enshrined in various treaties. Self-determination (SD) can be internal or external. Internal SD (ISD) seeks to respect the rights of minorities and could take any form within the internal configuration of a state. On the other hand, External SD (ESD) could occur when a government perpetrates prolonged injustices on a people causing them to seek their independence. This is usually obtained forcefully rather than peacefully. The referendum in Scotland was going serve as a reference External SD in the international community.
The domination and military occupation, which brings along massive human rights violations in Southern Cameroons has, ‘like most Chinese products’, an expiry date.
BY H K TANTEH