A political leader from Cameroon’s southern region told VOA that if the international community is interested in the rule of law, it must ensure that the struggle for southern Cameroon independence is resolved through diplomacy.
Southern Cameroon, once a British territory, joined French-speaking Cameroon in 1961.
Since then, the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) has been seeking the region’s separation from the Republic of Cameroon.
Mola Njoh Litumbe, who has witnessed Cameroon’s political evolution, is in the United States at the invitation of Diaspora Southern Cameroonians to discuss the fate of the region.
Litumbe said southern Cameroon was never a part of the territory known since 1960 as the Republic of Cameroon.
“For nearly 50 years, la Republique du Cameroon has failed to observe the special status of southern Cameroon which was never a part of its territory at independence, and anyone talking about southern Cameroon is arrested and charged with secession. And, the position of southern Cameroonians is that you cannot have secession unless you have been part of a corporate territory,” he said.
Litumbe said the threatened breakaway of eastern Nigeria from the federal republic was an act of secession because eastern Nigeria was part of Nigeria when the country gained its independence.
On the other hand, Litumbe said the Republic of Cameroon cannot prove that southern Cameroon was ever a part of it at independence.
He said independence from the Republic of Cameroon is still attainable because the people of southern Cameroon took the government of Cameroon to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
“This occurred in 2003. Six years later, in 2009, a decision was rendered which stated that la Republique du Cameroon should enter into constructive dialogue with the people of southern Cameroon with a view to resolving constitutional and other grievances,” he said.
Litumbe said the African Commission gave the parties six months during which to come together under the auspices of the commission.
But, he said the government of Cameroon applied for an additional six months which expired in June this year.
“So, we are waiting to see if la Republique is amenable to discipline of the international community by entering into constructive dialogue, the position of southern Cameroon being that they were never part of the corporate territory which attained independence as la Republique du Cameroon,” Litumbe said.
Litumbe said the government of Cameroon has also failed to comply with the U.N. Charter to file an agreement of terms joining together with southern Cameroon meaning they were never legally joined.
He said obtaining separation has been difficult for the people of southern Cameroon because the region has been virtually under siege.
“The army, the police force and the gendarmerie are all in the hands of la Republique du Cameroon. Indeed, even the divisional officers and senior divisional officers in southern Cameroon, 90 percent of them, are from la Republique du Cameroon. By joining together, independence, as defined by the United Nations, was a power-sharing arrangement. That has been denied the people of southern Cameroon,” Litumbe said.
He said southern Cameroon is waiting for the constructive dialogue recommended by the African Union and would prefer to resolve its differences with the Republic of Cameroon amicably in accordance with the provision of the United Nations.
Litumbe said, although southern Cameroon is alleged to have joined the Republic of Cameroon in 1961, there is no treaty of such a union.
“We have challenged la Republique du Cameroon that if you are accusing the woman in your house of divorce, you must have in your pocket a marriage certificate that produces any instrument acceptable under international law to prove that we ever join. Otherwise, you are exercising colonialism which has been condemned by the United Nations by denying the people of southern Cameroon their sovereign right to independence,” he said.