With consistent violent incidents and clashes between separatist fighters and LRC government forces in recent weeks, the Anglophone crisis shows little evidence of calming down. No meaningful diplomatic solution has been attempted by either side, and targeted killings continue to draw the attention of the international media. It is evident that Biya’s military forces are now under the gaze of the world, with the UN and other organizations making statements on the crisis. International action has not followed, however, and so it is imperative that the ACMP, activists on the ground and the wider Ambazonian diaspora continue to ensure that the situation in Cameroon is not ignored.
Today, the Anglophone Crisis Monitoring Project calls for international mediation between the belligerents in order to avoid a major escalation that is possible to follow in the coming months. ACMP has become aware of unconfirmed plans for escalation by an individual separatist organization or organizations that follow the model of successful insurgencies across the world, involving the attacking and destruction of economically important resource sites in the region. Notably, separatists have already attacked multiple sites of political significance- police facilities etc., however economically vital sites such as major infrastructural routes (train lines), pipelines and other facilities would all be vulnerable under such an initiative. This approach is a logical evolution in the strategy of separatist fighters that do not have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with LRC government forces.
Images of Ambazonian separatists continue to show them using hunting rifles and shotguns, together with occasional Kalashnikov rifles or the Serbian derivatives used by Cameroon’s military, including the Zastava M21. Serbian weapons in separatist’s hands are few and have likely been captured from dead Cameroonian soldiers or government facilities. These weapons remain few and far between, however, and traditional hunting rifles are by far the most common weapon type in the hands of separatists. These weapons are militarily obsolete, and despite the best efforts of some separatists, they are not appropriate for a head-on engagement with Cameroonian forces due to the vast disparity in firepower and equipment.
There is an obvious desire within separatist units for more effective and more advanced weaponry, and ACMP has long considered the reality of this prospect to be highly likely for two reasons. Firstly, there are a number of armed groups operating in the region including Boko Haram, from whom it would be possible to buy weapons fairly easily. Secondly, Cameroon shares a long, porous border with both Chad and the Central African Republic, between which it would be relatively easy to move arms shipments. ACMP has been waiting for evidence and confirmation of intelligence that suggested that an arms shipment had been received, which would indicate an imminent escalation of hostilities.
ACMP can today reveal that we believe this to be the case, with a cache of what are believed to be Chinese Type 56 rifles and other derivatives being received by elements that are sympathetic to the Ambazonian cause, complete with ammunition and magazines. Whether they are currently in the region of the Southern Cameroons is currently unknown. These weapons are very common in conflicts across the world, being Chinese-made versions of the Kalashnikov, but they represent a step-change in capability and firepower for separatist ‘restoration forces’. The issue of LRC armoured vehicles remains, however, occasional images of RPGs have also been noted in the use of restoration forces.
ACMP has been warning and lobbying British and European politicians for a considerable amount of time with the regards to the potential for this conflict to accelerate into a much more serious situation approaching a full-on civil war. Despite our efforts, little to no action has been taken on the international stage to begin resolving this crisis. The Cameroonian military continues to commit unlawful targeted killings and other recorded major incidents. Restoration forces continue to attack facilities and individuals with ties to the Cameroonian government.
This is the most dangerous moment in the Anglophone Crisis to date. In response to continued Cameroonian abuses in the region, separatist elements have acquired vastly more effective weapons, and we stand on the precipice of a very serious war developing in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. ACMP again repeats its call for an immediate international observer mission excluding France and other involved parties, together with a diplomatic approach aimed at mediating between the two sides.
The warnings of the ACMP have been left unheeded- and so now we are headed into a new stage of the Anglophone Crisis.