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Cameroon Conflict: Cardinal Tumi Calls for Amnesty and Troop Withdrawal

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) – “I think it is now up to the Head of State to do something and I believe he can do it, that is to declare an amnesty so that there will be peace and children can go to school”, said Cardinal Christian Tumi, Archbishop Emeritus of Douala, in an interview a few days after his release, after the brief kidnapping by Anglophone separatists in the northwest of Cameroon on November 5 (see Fides, 6/11/2020).

Cardinal Tumi said he was treated well by his kidnappers with whom he had discussed politics. “They wanted to know what my opinion was on the form of government in the country. I told them: it is federalism”, says the 90-year-old Cardinal. The Archbishop Emeritus of Douala wants a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. In addition to the amnesty, he asks that “the army return to the barracks and that these young people (the secessionists) lay down their arms”.

The current form of government in Cameroon is at the center of the conflict between the government and the separatists. During the Great National Dialogue called to find solutions to the secessionist crisis (see Fides, 8/10/2019), one of the most important proposals put forward by the eight commissions was that on decentralization, with the passage of a special law for the regions of the north-west and the south-west, as the inhabitants of the regions in the north-west and south-west demand.

Since 2016, separatists in the two regions, in the north-west and in the south-west, with their largely Anglophone population, have been demanding that English instead of French remain the official language in schools and in court.

In February of this year, 16 bishops from 10 countries on all continents invited Cameroon in an open letter to President Paul Biya to find “a lasting solution to the problems of Cameroon” through “a mediation process in which armed separatist groups and representatives of nonviolent civil society should also be involved”(see Fides, 21/2/2020).

In the letter, the Bishops recalled that “the violence and atrocities committed by all parties in the conflict have forced 656,000 English-speaking Cameroonians to leave their homes, 800,000 children no longer attend school (including 400,000 Catholic school pupils), 50,000 people to flee to Nigeria and have destroyed hundreds of villages and killed at least 2,000 people”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 19/11/2020)

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