Election Violence Fears in Anglophone Cameroon

Planned election sparks escalation fears in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions.

Approaching national elections in Cameroon are feared to further destabilise the Anglophone regions of the Central African country, which have been in a state of crisis for months. Due to be held in October, the elections have already met stiff, hard-line resistance from separatist leaders in the area, denouncing their legitimacy and banning local populations from taking part. This has been met with considerable enthusiasm on the ground, however Cameroon’s growing military presence in the area suggests that this will be heavily contested during the election period. Previous articles by the ACMP warned correctly of a surge in violence, which has been reflected in widespread skirmishes, ambushes and killings across the entirety of the Anglophone Regions. The ACMP believes that the threat posed by the elections is far more significant, due to the political ramifications of further years under the authority of President Paul Biya. Namely, separatist elements believe that now is the time for change- and are very unlikely to accept anything less.


It is evident that little is going to change under the leadership of 85-year old Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982. If including his period as Prime Minister from 1975, President Biya is the current longest serving non-royal head of state in the world, which has naturally attracted significant international scrutiny over the years. Regular accusations of electoral fraud and irregularities, particularly associated with his 1992 re-election, have led to widespread voter abstention in the past, with an air of resigned inevitability about his re-election. Presidential term limits, the only real obstacle to Biya’s continued rule over Cameroon, were removed in 2008, clearing the path for Biya to rule Cameroon for as long as he desires. At 85-years old already, Biya would be into his nineties by the time of the next election, and rumours regularly abound about the state of the veteran President’s health. It has been suggested that there could be a link between Biya’s health and the extraordinary amount of time the President spends abroad, particularly in Switzerland.

With extremely limited dialogue between the Anglophone Separatist leadership and the Cameroonian government, major clashes during the election period seem inevitable in the Anglophone Regions. There is a deeply rooted desire to prevent the elections from taking place in the Southern Cameroons, with separatist elements vowing to target electoral infrastructure, whilst hard-line stances from commanders on the ground have seen populations banned from voting, and voter cards destroyed so as not to endorse the Cameroonian government. With a vast backdrop of violence, destruction and discrimination perpetrated against the Anglophone population, it is understood that the planned disruption has widespread support in communities across the Anglophone region. With increasing Cameroonian military forces being deployed to the area- in particular the Western-trained, Israeli-equipped BIR (‘Brigades Interventions Rapides’), ACMP has serious concerns about the level of violence anticipated during the election period.

Recent evidence has shown that the Anglophone separatists- fighting for the independence of ‘Ambazonia’- are having some success in a guerrilla war campaign against Cameroon’s forces, with regular reports of Cameroonian government losses, even to its famed BIR. However, separatists have also suffered some significant losses, with the loss of a base containing dozens of firearms, including captured assault rifles, representing a blow to their cause. The election period has the potential to deeply embed the Ambazonian cause in the hearts and minds of Anglophone Cameroon, with every Ambazonian loss perhaps considered a martyr at a time of great political consequence.

Ultimately, there is a serious risk of a major escalation in violence during the election period, with the only saving grace being that the country will be under greater international scrutiny during this time. With widespread violence now raging across the region, the ACMP encourages dialogue between the sides to establish common ground in the hope of securing a peaceful future- be it through a referendum, greater autonomy or unilateral independence. The ACMP proposes a future conference between the sides, held in a neutral state, at which possible solutions could be discussed. Without this, the Anglophone Crisis will become interminable.

Billy Burton (Anglophone Crisis Monitoring Project)



Political, Uncategorized

The Crisis in Cameroon is finally making its way to the EU Commission

Over the past months, I have been surprised many times on how little is being reported in International media concerning the aggressions in Southern Cameroon provinces.

There were some articles in The Guardian but things seemed to halt there. Even those articles seemed to mainly make their way to those impacted and not really to the desk of politicians. I have quizzed a number of politicians (and journalists) I happened to know or got in touch with and most were not aware of any “situation” in the Southern Cameroons. Specifically the absence of articles in (usually quite comprehensive reporting) outlets like BBC, Africa News, Deutsche Welle and RFI was notable.

All compelling evidence submitted to ACMP and it’s members however was in our opinion definitely warranting political attention, so we actively pursued journalists on this matter. The reality unfortunately is that usually politicians act based on international attention in the media. Absence of this makes it hard for politicians in their usually full agenda to act, basically because of lack of awareness.

The EU might play a vital role in getting the situation in Southern Cameroons on the international agenda.

In this situation that was also the case, and when I alerted my political contacts at EU level, most were not even aware of any issue in Cameroon. The last known status was the internet blockage of beginning last year.  When I met with Hilde Vautmans, who is member of the Foreign Committee and has a passion for Africa. She also acted as president of the Rwanda commission and therefor perfectly positioned to have an opinion un this matter.

Luckily, all efforts were not in vain and EU Parliamentarian Hilde Vautmans (ALDE) has asked written questions to the Foreign affairs commission of the EU, EEAS headed by Federica Mogherini.

EU Commissioner responsible for EEAS, Federica Mogherini

The following questions were raised:

Clashes between insurgents and government forces for a breakaway republic in Cameroon’s English-speaking region have recently intensified.

The conflict began following peaceful protests by Anglophone teachers, who felt discriminated against. Anglophones, who make up 20% of Cameroon’s 23-million population, have over time felt marginalised in the socio-cultural, political and economic spheres by the Francophone-dominated government.

The separatist forces capitalised on the teachers’ protest, and stepped up pressure on the government, which responded to the crisis with counter-insurgency operations. While most Anglophones simply wished that their grievances be addressed, the more radical factions have called for independence for the self-declared state of Ambazonia. The security forces responded violently to these protests, killing scores of people and displacing 160 000.

What is the VP/HR’s position on the intercommunal violence in Cameroon, and what has been done so far in response?

What specific steps does the European External Action Service plan to take to alleviate the tensions in Cameroon and move towards a peaceful resolution?

According to some reports, FinFisher surveillance software, which was produced by European companies, was used by the Cameroonian Government to target the opposition. How will the VP/HR counter the indirect export of such cyber tools to Cameroon?

We now have to wait for the official answers from EEAS, and will update this story when they get available.