In Summary
  • Over the past two years, the francophone-majority country has been mired in the unrest which has left more than 2,000 people dead as English-speaking separatists demand independence in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
  • The current crisis began in late 2016, and escalated a year later when English-speaking militants symbolically declared the creation of the independent "Republic of Ambazonia" in the two regions.
  • President Biya has called for national dialogues presided over by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute and bringing together representatives of numerous factions, including security forces and the armed separatists.

YAOUNDE,

Cameroon President Paul Biya on Tuesday announced that he intends to hold a major "national dialogue" later this month in a bid to put an end to the conflict between security forces and armed separatists from the anglophone minority in the west.

Over the past two years, the francophone-majority country has been mired in the unrest which has left more than 2,000 people dead as English-speaking separatists demand independence in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes as a result according to the Human Rights Watch group.

"I have decided to convene, from the end of this month, a major national dialogue to allow us... to examine the ways and means to respond to the deeply-held aspirations of the populations in the Northwest and Southwest, but also in all the other component parts of our great nation," the 86-year-old President said in an address to the nation aired on national television and radio.

UN RESPONSE

Biya, who has been in power for 37 years, reiterated his offer of a "pardon" to any separatists who voluntarily lay down their arms, while vowing that those who refuse to do so will face "the full force of the law" as well as the country's security and defence forces.

He said the talks in late September would be presided over by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute and will bring together representatives of numerous factions, including security forces and the armed separatists.

Dion Ngute would hold "broad consultations" including delegations who would meet with diaspora in the coming days, the president said, without saying where a potential summit would be held.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "welcomes the announcement" and "reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support the dialogue process," his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Guterres "encourages the government of Cameroon to ensure that the process is inclusive" and "calls on all Cameroonian stakeholders, including the diaspora, to participate in this effort," the statement said.

WHAT HAPPENED

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