Buea Calls for Action for Independence of Southern Cameroons. By Martin Yembe In Buea

For the first time ever, the people of Buea, the historic capital of the British Southern Cameroons, have stood up like one man and in one determined voice, called on the chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Alapine-Gansou to inform he African Union that the Southern Cameroons quest for total independence has gone past the powers of the African Commission as well as the African Union.

The people made this declaration during a demonstration staged at the offices of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms in Buea last Saturday, February 5, 2011.

The events had stared earlier that morning with Southern Cameroonians trooping from different points of Buea and converging at the Human Rights offices at the Soppo neighbourhoods. Information had been gotten that the African Commission delegation had suddenly cancelled a program to honour Southern Cameroonian activists, led by Senior Citizen Mola Njoh Litumbe, by having lunch at the elder man’s residence. Word soon spread the Yaoundé regime had decided to sponsor its own lunch at the residence of one of the delegation’s members, Chief Justice Asuagbor Lucie, who was recently proposed by the Yaoundé Government and confirmed as the Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders in Africa at the Commission. Was this a design to keep the delegation’s leader and Chair of the Commission from having direct contacts with the Southern Cameroon’s activists ? Then they must have miscalculated…as usual and ailed woefully, for the events of the afternoon were to take an unprecedented turn, that will never be manipulated, not even by the ACHPR itself!

The Pro-Independence Demonstrations:

It was getting dark, and by 17:15, the African Commission envoy emerged from the walls of the Buea Maximum Production Prisons where it had decided to check out on the conditions of the prisoners and their welfare therein. The convoy took less than five minutes to drive up to Soppo’s Human Rights office, and lo and behold!, the shock the beheld was total! The entire yard was filled with chanting and placard- carrying demonstrators and protesters, many dressed in Southern Cameroons T-shirts, while others carried Southern Cameroons flags.

The convoy had to stop at the entrance of the yard, letting only the car carrying the Commission’s chair and her Cameroonian counterpart to get in. Yet, they remained blockaded in their car, either caught up in fear of the unknown confused or simply concerting and making inquiries. In the meantime, agents of the Governor’s office, security operatives in uniform and mufti could be espied running up and down, in and out of the office, making frantic calls and even taking down notes from the placards. At this time, the leadership of the Southern Cameroons was seated inside, relaxed. This included Chief Ayamba, Mola Njoh Litumbe, Nfor N. Nfor, Vincent Feko, Mola Mafoke, Prince Humphrey Mbinglo, Pa Sabum, I.N. Sona, Mr. Fomussoh from Washington DC, Chief Taku etc etc. Note that there were other Civil Society Organisation leaders in the hall from all over the South West…but, he Southern Cameroons issue suddenly became their issue as evidenced in their support in various ways…side comments, facial pleasures etc.

The Ongoing Trial at the African Court between Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun..From Den of Lions Volume I by Ntemfac Ofege

reallThe Import of Communications 337/2007

Southern Cameroons had two Communications at the African Commission: Communication 266/2003 whose ruling has been handed down and Communication 337/2007. As sumised by the deputy-Chairman of SCAPO, Augustine Feh Ndangam, ‘the ruling on Communication 266/2003 has brought in a significant measure of breakthrough and weaned that project from the windward side of the mountain to the leeward, and the flurry of activities.’[1]

Per Ndangam, broadly speaking in Communication  337, the State of the Southern Cameroons is asking the ‘Court’ or the African Commission –  to declare La Republique du Cameroon to be in violation of Article 4(b) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union with respect to the westward expansion of the international boundary of La Republique du Cameroun to include the former UN Trust territory of the Southern Cameroons.  As earlier stated, State parties to the African Constitutive Act are committed (Article 4b) to respecting the borders they inherited at independence. That is their recognized international boundary.

In a September 13, 2008 response to Letter No ACHPR/LPROT/COMM377/07/FO of  October 7, 2008, SCAPO and the SCNC wrote:

1)      Comunication 337/2007 was filed at the 41st ordinary Session of the ACHPR in Ghana. At the 42nd Session in Brazzaville, Complainants were told that the Respondent states had not yet replied.

2)      At the 43rd Session in Swaziland, Complainants were again told that the Respondent States had not yet replied.

3)      Here at the 44th Session In Abuja, complainants have again been told that the Communication under reference is being deferred because Respondent States have not yet replied.In the light of these persistent failures of the Respondent States to respond, we urge the Commission to take the appropriate measure/decision when defendants either refuse or reply after three sessions as is the present case.

To this end we wish to underscore the following points:

1)      That the frontiers of the Southern Cameroons are determined by International Treaties. These frontiers wer not set up by La Republique du Cameroun, a country of which we were not part when they independence and have not been a part of as will be established in the merit phase of this case.

2)      That self-determination is a continuing right and in essence means self preservation, not self destruction. Therefore, a people cannot self preserve by extinguishing themselves. NO African country is known to have undergone self-extinction in the process of decolonization and self determination.

3)      If tomorrow African countries have to surrender their independence and sovereignties to create a stronger union in Africa it will be by each sovereign people to surrender their own independent territory to create such a stronger sovereign African Union, but not through the crimes of annexation, illegal territorial acquisition and the subjugation of Africans by Africans. The very notion of union excludes duress, it excludes manipulation, it excludes the violation of the rights of others peoples fully protected by the African Charter.

4)      Communicatiosn337/2007 is fully based on the principles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the AU Charter, and the principles of international law in general. We must make it crystsl clear to the African Commission that just as the erst of Africa rejected coloization, in all its forms, the people of the Southern Cameroons shall never, never bow to it in whatever form.

We therefore call on the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission to make a ruling on the admissibility of Commission 337/2007.[2]

Interim Measures and the possible arrival of a Peace-Keping force

To date, the Southern Cameroons has the following complaints before the ACHPR:

1)      Application for the Review of Decision on Communication 266/2003.

2)      Admissibility in Communication 337/2007.

3)      Application for Provincial Measures in Communication 337/2007.

Per AF Ndangam, the application for provisional/interim measures pursuant to Article III of the Rules of Procedure of the ACHPR arose from the reaction of the government of LRC to the transformation of SCAPO to a Southern Cameroons Political Party. Contrary to some who claimed that SCAPO had registered as a party in Republique du Cameroun, the inside story was different.

SCAPO had declared itself a Southern Cameroons Political party with a 3-point political agenda

1)      De-Annexation of the Southern Cameroons from Republique du Cameroun.

2)      Self-determination for the people of Southern Cameroons within their International  Boundary and

3)      the confirmation and re-tracing of Southern  Cameroons international boundaries.  This declaration was distributed to the press and to LRC Administration in Bamenda.

The SDO for Mezam refused to entertain the declaration. The Governor’s office in Bamenda refused to accept the application but later took but, in violation of the law, refused to issue the acknowledgement receipt.

SCAPO, however, drew the attention of ACHPR to the incidence copying the Governor who promptly issued the acknowledgement Receipt and forwarded the declaration file to the Ministry of Territorial Administration.

The Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization then wrote to SCAPO saying that the stated objectives of SCAPO ran contrary to national unity and to Article 9 of Cameroons law on political parties.  SCAPO now drew the attention of the African Commission to what amounted to a ban on SCAPO’s political activities and pointed out the need to restrain the action of the Minister of Territorial Administration in Southern Cameroon’s internal affairs where their claim of sovereignty over SC was undergoing legal challenge before the ACHPR.

SCAPO therefore applied for an injunction order restraining LRC from interfering in Southern Cameroons including their exercise of sovereignty and conduct of elections until Communication 337/2007 was disposed of. This application for an injunction order is the third matter we have presently before the African Commission.

Mr. Biya’s Response – the Military

On December 4, 2009, Mr. Paul Biya, president of La Republique du Cameroun, decided to schedule what he termed the ‘Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Camerounese Army’ in Bamenda, the main town of the Northern Zone of the Southern Cameroons.

The deployment of the Camerounese army to Bamenda ran contrary to several advisories tabled to Mr. Biya by none other than the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on an official visit to Cameroun, last June 2010, which advisory called on Mr. Biya to desist from deploying his army to Bamenda on a so-called 50th Army Day, the ever supercilious Biya stuck his guns.  The ACHPR also advised against the deployment of troops to Bamenda.

[1] See Report on the 47th Ordinary Session of the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights Meeting in Banjul, the Gambia from May 12-26, 2010. as posted on Ambasbay.

[2] Letter posted on most Southern cameroons websites

The Thrust of the New Southern Cameroons Case – Communications 337/2007 at the African Court

Broadly speaking in Communication 33/2007, the State of the Southern Cameroons is asking the “Court”/African Commission to declare La Republique du Cameroon to be in violation of Article 4(b) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union with respect to the westward expansion of the international boundary of La Republique du Cameroun to include the former UN Trust territory of the Southern Cameroons.  State parties to the African Constitutive Act are committed (Article 4b) to respecting the borders they inherited at independence. That is their recognized international boundary.

It is likely that 337 will anchor not only on the AU Constitutive Act but also on the UN Charter and other International Instruments eg if LRC says (as they already did in Communication 266: Kevin Ngwang Gumne and Others Vs LRC) that SC voted later on to join them, it may also be necessary to go into whether or not there is a legal instrument (Treaty of Union) signed by SC and LR and registered at the UN Secretariat in compliance with Article 102 of the UN charter, etc.