In Summary
  • The political drive for the separatist cause began in 2016 after police broke up demonstrations by English-speaking lawyers and teachers who protested against working in French.

  • The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), locally known as "the Consortium", was formed to campaign against what they viewed as discrimination and marginalisation by the francophone majority.

  • Although it campaigned for federal ties — not secessionism — the campaign met with unyielding opposition from octogenarian President Paul Biya.

LIBREVILLE,

Separatists in Cameroon's restive English-speaking regions have faced a violent crackdown since declaring the creation of "Ambazonia", a self-proclaimed republic independent from the majority French-speaking country.

The violence has helped fuel support for a growing separatist movement, including armed groups, who in turn have carried out a string of attacks on police and the military. Dozens on both sides have died, and tens of thousands have fled into neighbouring Nigeria.

ENGLISH

The political drive for the separatist cause began in 2016 after police broke up demonstrations by English-speaking lawyers and teachers who protested against working in French.

The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), locally known as "the Consortium", was formed to campaign against what they viewed as discrimination and marginalisation by the francophone majority.

Although it campaigned for federal ties — not secessionism — the campaign met with unyielding opposition from octogenarian President Paul Biya.

The Consortium was dissolved in January 2017, two of its leaders were arrested, and within the anglophone protest movement, the pendulum began to swing in favour of independence.

On October 1, prominent leader Sisiku Ayuk Tabe declared the self-proclaimed republic of "Ambazonia", named after Ambas Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. The state has not been recognised internationally.

Biya countered with a crackdown and enlisted the help of neighbouring Nigeria in denying a haven to the "terrorists".

ASYLUM

In January, Ayuk Tabe and 46 of his supporters were extradited by Nigeria to Cameroon despite claims that many of them had lodged asylum applications.

In this climate of spiralling mistrust and revenge, calls for separatism, rather than federalism, are dominant.

The loudest calls have come from the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF), headed by Ayuk Tabe, which advocates peaceful means to advance independence.

Many of its members are activists with a background in teaching, law or farming, but it also counts former leaders of the outlawed Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), which began the campaign for independence back in 1995.

"Negotiations are our best weapon," said Millan Atam, a SCACUF leader.

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