Catholic Church urged to mediate in Cameroon

“A clergy able to project a position of neutrality could work with other trusted actors to mediate between Anglophone leaders and the state and stem a dangerous and growing crisis.”

The Catholic Church can help broker peace in restive parts of Cameroon, at least those parts that are English-speaking, a think-tank, the International Crisis Group, said in a report.

“The Catholic Church could help break this dangerous stalemate” between separatists and security forces, the report said, according to French news station, news24.com.

“Other than the Catholic clergy, there are few prospective peacemakers,” it said.

“If no one fills that role, the separatist sentiment already voiced by many Anglophones will continue to grow, fueling further violence and exacerbating the ongoing insurgency in the Anglophone regions, with elections in late 2018 a flashpoint.”

At least 31 members of the security forces have been killed in the last two years since President Paul Biya rejected demands for greater autonomy by the African country’s Anglophone minority.

Frustrated at having their calls ignored, the activists made a full declaration of independence in October 2017.

But their situation has since worsened, with tens of thousands displaced by the fighting. Humanitarian aid has also been trickling in slowly, not enough to meet their needs.

The International Crisis Group called on the church to stress its impartiality on the question of whether Anglophone states should adopt federalism or decentralization.

“A clergy able to project a position of neutrality could work with other trusted actors to mediate between Anglophone leaders and the state and stem a dangerous and growing crisis,” it said.

Cameroon is predominantly French-speaking, with about 80 percent of the country’s 23.4 million people using this as their mother tongue.

La Croix International staff
Cameroon