Cameroon President Paul Biya has been challenged to show more transparency in investigations to alleged rights violation by Cameroonian soldiers.
Speaking in Washington on Thursday, the head of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had met with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya alongside the U.S. ambassador before elections in October to discuss issues of rights violation in the country.
The US General said he was “very emphatic with president Biya that the behaviour of his troops portraying a lack of transparency could have a significant impact on our ability to work with him.”
He was speaking just hours after several news outlets in the US revealed the Trump administration will be cutting significant military aid to Cameroon.
Below is an excerpt of Gen. Waldhauser’s presentation:
“ the issue on the Anglophone people I am not going to detail now but I think the article and the video this morning did a good job in explaining how it got to the point we are today. In October of 2017, the Anglophones said they wanted to actually form their own state; the Ambazonia state. They have been issues there with atrocities… issues with allegations of law of war… issues… that brings all of this to a head.
Over the last several months or so, the State Department has put on hold several security forces assistance programs. Right before the elections in October (2018) I with Ambassador Peter paid a visit to president Biya. We had a very direct conversation with him with regards to investigations of atrocities, transparency of these atrocities and appropriate battlefield behaviour.
Since that time, the State Department has made a decision not to allocate significant money but at the same time they have released some money that has been on hold to things like scan eagle…aircrafts that assist in the Boko Haram fight in the North.
We still have programs that we continue with them… all kinds of small engagements as well as exercises. We did have… we talked about the state partnership program with Nebraska. We put that on hold. In conjunction with the ambassador of AFRICOM we decided not to pursue that because it wouldn’t have been a good place for that particular group to be. So we put a hold to that.
The bottom line is that right now in Cameroon they have been a good partner with us counterterrorism wise but you cannot neglect the fact that there are alleged atrocities onwhat is going on there. And so we continue to take our queue from the State Department and the Ambassador and all level of engagement will continue but not to get ahead of what the State Department will say if we have to take other actions. We were very emphatic with president Biya that the behaviour of his troops portraying a lack of transparency could have a significant impact on our ability to work with him.”