The interim leaders of the proscribed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium have issued a press release, stating that an envoy from the presidency has reached out to them for dialogue in a bid to end the ongoing protests in English-speaking Cameroon.
The release issued this March 1, says Antoine Tsimi, former minister and commissioner of the CEMAC regional economic community for central Africa, initiated dialogue with Tapang Ivo Tanku and Mark Bareta, interim leaders of the Consortium which is coordinating a strike action that has paralysed schools, courts and economic activities in the North West and South regions.
He spoke with them via Skype after several failed attempts to get them on phone; the release said.
Going by the interim leaders, the former minister of finance acknowledged the existence of the issues raised by the English speaking Cameroonians which centres mainly on “half a century of gross inequality, marginalisation and unfair distribution of power and wealth in the “Unitary” state.
The economist also pointed out that the internet shutdown in Anglophone regions will lead to an economic meltdown if it continues for a few months, according to the release signed by the consortium’s two interim leaders.
They were all agreed that the release of detained leaders of the Consortium should be secured. Tsimi suggested that the consortium should focus on the release of the consortium leaders first, and discuss the release of other detainees later. He noted that it was vital for dialogue to begin as soon as possible.
Mark and Ivo on their part, pushed further; stating that detained leaders, Felix Agbor ‘Balla’ Kongho, Fontem Neba and those on the run, Wilfred Tassang, Eyambe Elias and James Abangma must be present on the dialogue table to find solutions to the ‘Anglophone Problem’.
Tsimi, they said, gave to understanding that during the dialogue, the government bench would be made up of key ministers and diplomats from the presidency. He also noted that calls for the demilitarisation of Anglophone regions cannot be heeded because the regions do not constitute an independent country.
The interim consortium leaders, going by the release, did not leave the online discussion without informing the government envoy that though the consortium is pushing for a two-state federation, observations show a majority of English-speaking Cameroonians want total independence.
The release says Tsimi promised to give feedback of the talks to President Paul Biya.