Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

A man in Cameroon wears a shirt featuring President Paul Biya, taken March 20, 2008, via RNW media/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.

Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya, in an infrequent outing on Tuesday, September 10, announced talks to put to rest the crisis rocking the country’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions – an impasse elapsing for the fourth year.

The conflict broke out in late 2016 when English-speaking Cameroonians began to protest the ongoing marginalization from the Francophone majority, who say the French-speaking majority government has consistently oppressed their language, culture and economies.

The protest movement, led mostly by teachers and lawyers, evolved into a militant separatist movement calling for the secession of English-speaking Cameroon. The government clamped down on Anglophone separatists and the conflict led to close to 2,000 people killed and over 500,000 displaced, according to the United Nations.

President Biya, who has been in power for 37 years, said the discussion would pull together people from a vast array of the country and will be chaired by Anglophone Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.

“The dialogue in question will mainly concern the situation in the northwest and southwest regions. The dialogue will, therefore, rally all the sons and daughters of our beloved and beautiful country, Cameroon, to reflect on values that are dear to us, namely: peace, security, national unity and progress,” President Biya said on public television CRTV.

Gina Sondo 🇨🇲@GinaSondo

In view of the National Dialogue, ’s PM Dion Ngute will meet the following…

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
17 people are talking about this

However, there are concerns the dialogue may be limited and remote-controlled by the country’s leadership.

Agbor Nkongho, a human rights lawyer, who was part of the initial protests, wrote on Twitter on September 11, reacting to the President’s speech:

Agbor Nkongho@AgborNkonghoF

The call for an inclusive dialogue is very appreciated. I urge those who will be attending to call for the release of all those detained in connection with the crisis, the need for constitutional amendment and also to ensure that the form of the state is equally discussed.

169 people are talking about this

The Anglophone crisis in context 

After World War I, Britain and France shared control over Cameroon. France ruled French Cameroon and Britain administered a territory then-called British Southern Cameroons.

French Cameroon gained independence in 1961 as La Republique du Cameroun while British Southern Cameroons voted to join La Republique du Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, made up of two states: West Cameroon (English-speaking) and East Cameroon (French-speaking).

However, the first president of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, who held power from 1960-1982, abolished the federal system in 1972. Today, there are 10 regions in the United Republic of Cameroon, made of 8 French regions and 2 English regions.

Anglophone Cameroonians have long lamented suppression from Francophone Cameroonians, who have dominated the country’s leadership since inception.

In 1991, efforts made to incise the abscess of the Anglophone problem with a similar call for dialogue fell flat. The All Anglophone Conference in 1993 and 1994 also made no impact:

Dibussi Tande@dibussi

When Anglophone members of the Committee on Constitutional Reform, set up by @PR_Paul_BIYA in 1993, proposed an alternative Federal Constitution, the President instead convened a “Grand Debat National” to water down & sidestep Anglo demands

View image on Twitter
48 people are talking about this

Nonetheless, President Biya recently announced a national dialogue to take place at the end of September, and several groups have already submitted proposals on how to resolve the crisis.

In one of them, the opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, led by vice-president Joshua Osih called for a neutral personality to chair the talks. Several Anglophone separatists are calling for the release of their leaders from prison after receiving life sentences.

Doubt, hope, fear ahead of talks

Netizens took to Twitter to express hope as well as doubt about the impact of the national dialogue plan. Solomon Amabo called for the need for a third-party presence to ensure transparency and inclusivity:

Solomon Amabo@solomon_amabo

Dialogue:’Who will I dialogue with?asked Mr Biya?He turns around and calls for National Dialogue,to dialogue with who then?Dialogue with ready-made resolutions-One and indivisible Cameroon?Only negotiations with 3rd party presence(UN,USA,etc)can be binding.We are not in 1961!

View image on Twitter
20 people are talking about this

Peter Tah also worries about inclusivity and wonders how peace is possible without a clear ceasefire:

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

It’s increasing clear that the national dialogue will focus on issues like bilingualism, social cohesion, cultural diversity, return of refugees, reintegration of ex-combatants & rebuilding of affected areas in the Northwest & Southwest regions of .

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

Looking at how predialogue talks are unfolding, it’s evident that this will be far from being inclusive. The regime seems to be picking & choosing those who would attend. Plus if this is dialogue on a crisis involving two parties, how come one party gets to draw up the agenda?

See Peter Tah’s other Tweets

However, Biya clarified on Monday, September 16, that the national dialogues will focus on “bilingualism, cultural diversity and social cohesion, the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the education and judicial system, but also decentralization and local development,” according to Cameroon Online.

The United Nations says it has taken in the resolve by Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya to settle the armed conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.

The UN urged inclusive talks to end the conflict that has persisted for nearly four years:

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement made today by President Paul Biya on the launch of a national dialogue process in Cameroon. He encourages the government of Cameroon to ensure that the process is inclusive and addresses the challenges facing the country. He calls on all Cameroonian stakeholders, including the Diaspora, to participate in this effort.

Still, the September talks are announced amidst ongoing violence and a new surge of refugees fleeing insecure situations — including lockdowns and school closures for the last three years — in the northwest and southwest regions.

7 Countries Without a Legal Drinking Age

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Out of 195 countries recognized by the United Nations, only about a dozen don’t have a legal drinking age. Some of these countries have a long history of conflict, making them unsafe for travel. Meanwhile, others continue to grapple with infectious viral outbreaks. The remaining seven countries without a legal drinking age, however, can serve as great travel destinations for people of all ages.

Cameroon

Credit: mbrand85/ Shutterstock

Like other countries on this list, Cameroon has a legal drinking age for alcohol consumption in a public venue. Patrons under age 18 can drink alcohol in a bar or restaurant when accompanied by an adult. These age limits don’t apply when drinking off-premises, however.

Note that, as of July 2019, Cameroon continues to experience political turmoil. Check for travel warnings before heading to Cameroon, but don’t discount this charming and diverse country. Its rich history and culture make it a great adventure travel destination. You’ll also love the pristine white sand beaches, mountains, and rain-forests.

São Tomé & Príncipe

Credit: MartaTari/ iStock

Africa’s second-smallest nation lies in the Gulf of Guinea and welcomes travelers from around the globe. No age limits exist for alcohol consumption here.

Composed of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe offer visitors exciting options for water sports, jungle exploration, and ecotourism. With only 7,000 residents, Príncipe is especially geared towards nature-lovers and outdoor-enthusiasts who enjoy unspoiled locales.

Visitors can also take in the Portuguese-inspired architecture on the islands. Be sure to check out the large network of plantations, which once served as the center of global cocoa production. The islands are also famous for their location: you can cross the Equator at Rolas Island, which lies at the southern tip of Sao Tome.

Haiti

Credit: Rotorhead 30A Productions/ Shutterstock

Haiti gained attention in the last decade due to a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Efforts to rebuild the country continue today. The country draws aid workers and humanitarian organizations that accept volunteers for community development projects. Taking your teenagers to Haiti on a spring or summer vacation will be a trip to remember. There’s no drinking age here. Note, however, that alcohol won’t be sold to minors below 18 years of age.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to visit picturesque beaches on the north shore of Haiti near Cap Haitien, where you can also observe beautiful French colonial architecture.

Antigua and Barbuda

Credit: peeterv/ iStock

Nestled in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda is another two-island country. Beach lovers and sun-worshipers adore the white and pink sand beaches on these stunning islands.

Above all, opportunities abound for snorkeling and scuba diving excursions. Participate in one of these excursions, and you’ll see amazing marine life living among the island reefs. Those who want to drink at one of Antigua’s world-class restaurants or cafes must be at least 16 years of age. But, don’t fret. No drinking age exists for enjoying a tropical drink elsewhere on the island.

Bermuda

Credit: wwing/ iStock

Like some of the other countries on this list, Bermuda has no drinking age for those who consume alcohol outside of bars and restaurants.

Those who drink in public establishments must be 18 years of age, however. Bermuda is a one-stop-shop vacation destination which offers something for every type of traveler. Beyond the incredible pink sand beaches, Bermuda is also famous for sailing, whale-watching as well as various types of water-sports.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking through Bermuda’s picturesque landscapes. Meanwhile, golf enthusiasts will appreciate playing a few rounds of golf at one of the island’s championship golf courses.

Grenada

Credit: Falvio-Vallenari/ iStock

Grenada, affectionately known as the “Spice Isle,” is the last Caribbean country without a legal drinking age on this list. Note, however, that those who drink in a bar or restaurant, must be at least 16 years of age.

Although Grenada boasts silky white sand beaches, characteristic of many Caribbean Islands, it’s most famous for its simplistic, laid-back atmosphere.

The country is also known for the beautiful waterfalls at Grand Etang National Park and its diverse British, French, and African-influenced architecture.

Additionally, Grenada is a favorite destination for scuba divers. Aside from its colorful coral reefs, Grenada also has an underwater sculpture park and exciting shipwrecks to explore, such as the famous Bianca C (known as the “Titanic of the Caribbean”).

Cambodia

Credit: Akarat Phasura/ Shutterstock

Cambodia has no drinking age, regardless of whether you’re in a restaurant, bar or another public establishment.

Accommodations are inexpensive, and the country offers multiple experiences for various travel interests. Cambodia is generally safe. For more information, check the travel advisory at the U.S. Department of State when making travel arrangements.

Through the decades, Cambodia’s government has become more open and its citizens have continued to thrive. Don’t skip Phnom Penh, the capital, to learn about Cambodia’s history under the Khmer Rouge and to enjoy some amazing street food. During your stay, you won’t want to miss the famous temples of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beach lovers should head to the south to enjoy some of the most unspoiled beaches in Southeast Asia.

The world’s 6 rainiest cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The world’s rainiest cities

Do you love the rain? Read on! You’re about to learn some great destinations that’ll give you all the rain you can handle. Do you hate the rain? You should read on too! You’ll get a good sampling of locations to absolutely avoid the next time you plan a trip. Love it or hate it, keep reading to hearing about the world’s wettest, rainiest, and soggiest cities. (Rainfall data courtesy of World Atlas.)

6. Debundscha, Cameroon

Credit: antoineede / iStock

Average annual rainfall: 10,299 mm (405 inches)

First on our list (though sixth in overall ranking), we have the African village of Debundscha. This region is among the wettest places in the world for two reasons: its position near the equator (providing a long rainy season) and its proximity to Mount Cameroon. This massive mountain tends to block rain clouds from drifting away, forcing them to dump copious amounts of rain on Debundscha every year.

5. San Antonio de Ureca, Bioko Islands, Equatorial Guinea

Credit: Jan Ziegler / iStock

Average annual rainfall: 10,450 mm (411 inches)

Like Debundscha, the African village of San Antonio de Ureca features a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, which contributes significantly to its overall rainfall. The small region receives a staggering 411 inches of rainfall each year, making it the wettest place on the entire African continent.

4. Cropp River, New Zealand

Credit: Lukas Bischoff / istock

Average annual rainfall: 11,516 mm (453 inches)

Heading across the globe, we have New Zealand’s Cropp River. Running over 6 miles before connecting with the larger Whitcomb River, the Cropp region receives copious rainfall each year, with its record-breaking downpours once reaching over 41 inches in a 48-hour period. Of course, few residents live in the mountainous Cropp River region, so locals aren’t fazed by these drastic downpours. And fortunately, this surplus of water plays a big role in New Zealand’s economy, so you aren’t likely to hear anyone here complain about the rain.

3. Tutunendo, Colombia

Credit: Ernesto Terenes / iStock

Average annual rainfall: 11,770 mm (463 inches)

Earning the title as wettest region in South America, residents of Tutunendo, Columbia, are no stranger to the damp. Over 463 inches of rainfall drench the region each year, even during the not-so-dry “dry” season, when rain falls nearly 20 days per month. Like many others on this list, Tutunendo’s proximity to the equator and tropical climate are the culprits behind its record-holding precipitation rate. Combined with its consistently high temperatures and high humidity, Tutunendo’s tropical rainforest climate isn’t for the faint of heart.

2. Cherrapunji, India

Credit: Danielrao / iStock

Average annual rainfall: 11,777 mm (464 inches)

Let’s head east to the Indian subcontinent to visit the runner-up for rainiest city in the world: Cherrapunji. Located in the eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, Cherrapunji receives an average annual rainfall of 464 inches, outstripping nearly every other city on Earth. Its heavy rainfall is a result of its location; situated in a highland climate with monsoonal seasons and nestled close to the elevated Khasi Hills, the combination of subtropical climate and geography creates the perfect storm for precipitation. Unfortunately, and ironically, locals have a tough time finding water in Cherrapunji. The encroaching pressures of deforestation and soil erosion have created serious dryness problems in the area, despite its regular rainfall.

1. Mawsynram, India

Credit: powerofforever / iStock

Average annual rainfall: 11,871 mm (467 inches)

At the very top of our list, we have Mawsynram—an Indian village located just miles from Cherrapunji. Mawsynram sees a record-setting 467 inches of rainfall per year and is regularly reported to be the wettest city in the world. The geography of Mawsynram is quite similar to Cherrapunji, with many of the same subtropical conditions and regular monsoons contributing to its near-constant rainfall. In fact, there’s some debate about which one of these Indian cities is the real wettest city, as annual rainfall scores between the two tend to fluctuate. But whichever town takes the crown, it’s clear that this region of India experiences some of the heaviest rainfall you’ll see anywhere on earth.

New Contenders for Wettest City?

Due to how much variance there can be in annual rainfall totals, the globally-recognized “wettest city” tends to change over time. The above Indian cities have consistently received the most rainfall over the years, but other regions, such as Mount Waialeale in Hawaii, have received even more in years past—as much as 683 inches back in 1982!

Thus, it’s hard to say with certainty which region is truly the rainiest. But despite these fluctuations, it’s clear that the insane rainfall experienced by these cities is hard for any region to match.

17 dead after protests in Cameroon English-speaking areas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN NEWS PAPER ‘DAWN’)

 

 

Cameroon police officials with riot equipment patrol along a street in the administrative quarter of Buea some 60kms west of Douala on October 1. — AFP
Cameroon police officials with riot equipment patrol along a street in the administrative quarter of Buea some 60kms west of Douala on October 1. — AFP

Cameroon’s military is heavily deployed in the country’s English-speaking regions and few people are on the streets after 17 people were killed over the weekend in protests in support of independence for some Anglophone regions.

Tens of thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians hoisted flags on Sunday to show that they want independence from the country’s French-speaking majority, defying security forces and bans for gathering in some areas.

Security forces shot dead 17 people in Cameroon during gatherings on the 56th anniversary of the incorporation of Anglophone regions into Cameroon, according to Amnesty International. The group expressed worry over the government’s “ongoing campaign to silence any form of dissent”.

The Northwest province on Friday banned meetings and travel for 72 hours.

The rights group called on security forces to cease unnecessary violence and called on protesters to be peaceful.

“The worrying escalation witnessed over the weekend has now reached a crisis point. The use of excessive force to silence protests in the west and southwest regions of Cameroon is not the solution,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher.

“All deaths related to these protests must be promptly and effectively investigated.”

Local media had reported at least a dozen people killed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions, some shot by military helicopters, while at least 40 others were arrested, according to local media. Six soldiers were attacked and severely wounded, reports said.

No declarations were made by separatists, but protests have been ongoing since late last year with the country’s English-speaking population saying it is discriminated against by the majority French-speaking population.

Social media platforms such as WhatsApp have been blocked in the English-speaking regions and residents express fear about restrictions imposed by the government.

In Yaounde and all major towns in the French-speaking regions, political parties, lawmakers and the government organized rallies denouncing the separatist groups.

Lawmaker Tabe Tando from Cameroon’s English-speaking southwest region read a declaration at a mass rally organised by Cameroon’s senate and national assembly in Yaounde.

“The members of parliament condemn outright any action aimed at destabilising our beloved and beautiful country. Reaffirm their attachment to a Cameroon which is one and indivisible as enshrined in the constitution. Express their brotherly solidarity to the populations of the northwest and southwest regions, victims of the unscrupulous acts of enemies of the fatherland and peace,” it said.

Some experts called for dialogue to avoid ongoing tensions.

Schools have been closed in the northwest and southwest since November when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overuse of the French language. Violence erupted when separatists joined in and started asking for complete independence.

President Paul Biya has made clear he is not open for any negotiations on separate states.

Boko Haram releases 82 Chibok girls three years after kidnapping:

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Boko Haram releases 82 Chibok girls three years after kidnapping: Nigerian officials

By Ulf Laessing | ABUJA

Boko Haram militants have released 82 schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 who they kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok in April 2014, officials said on Saturday.

The girls were released through negotiations with the government, one official said, asking not to be named.

A military source said the girls were currently in Banki near the Cameroon border for medical checks before being airlifted to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

The kidnapping was one of the high-profile incidents of Boko Haram’s insurgency, now in its eighth year and with little sign of ending. About 220 were abducted from their school in a night-time attack.

More than 20 girls were released last October in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Others have escaped or been rescued, but 195 were believed to be still in captivity prior to this release.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said last month the government was in talks to secure the release of the remaining captives.

Although the Chibok girls are the most high-profile case, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of adults and children, many of whose cases have been neglected.

The militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than 2 million during their insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.

Despite the army saying the insurgency is on the run, large parts of the northeast, particularly in Borno state, remain under threat from the militants, and suicide bombings and gun attacks have increased in the region since the end of the rainy season late last year.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah, Tife Owolabi, Ahmed Kingimi and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Hugh Lawson)