Cameroon minister with 'dialogue' message to anglophone region

2018-03-28 14:49

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Cameroon's newly-appointed Interior Minister Paul Atanga Nji said on Tuesday he was bringing a "message of dialogue" to the restive southwest anglophone region, where the army is fighting separatists.

Atanga Nji, himself an anglophone, told state radio he was in the region to "bring a message of dialogue, a responsible dialogue, a dialogue with those who know that Cameroon is one and indivisible".

He also said he was there to "convey the thanks of the head of state (Paul Biya) to the administrative authorities and defence forces for the professionalism they have shown during the disturbances".

Before his visit to the southwest, Atanga Nji visited the northwest anglophone region in mid-March, where he had called on "violent separatists" to desist.

The minister, the first anglophone Interior Minister, is unpopular in the English-speaking regions after declaring in early 2016 that there was "no anglophone problem" in Cameroon.

Two English-speaking regions - in the southwest and northwest - became part of the French-majority country after independence in 1960 and contain around 20% of the Cameroon population.

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Tensions have flared since separatists proclaimed the autonomous republic of "Ambazonia" in October last year.

The country has had a tortuous colonial history that saw it pass from German rule to French and British hands, and the anglophone minority complain of having long been marginalised by the French-speaking elite.

The conflict between rebels and the army has become increasingly serious, as separatists urge the armed forces and government officials to leave the territory.

New separatist groups are emerging, while the Yaounde authorities have reduced their communications about the conflict to a minimum.

The unrest in the anglophone regions has prompted around 33 000 people to flee to neighbouring Nigeria.

Read more on:    cameroon  |  west africa

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