The very dangerous idea of “special Status” regions


By Dieudonne Essomba

If rumors are true, the solution towards which the Dialogue is leaning to avoid a Federation, at all costs, is to endow the Anglophone Regions with a special status! The participants invoked Articles 61 and 62 of the current Constitution, which provides for such exceptions.

I wonder how people can afford such gymnastics in pursuing a vital problem to a vital problem that will only create even more problems.

This is indeed the worst solution to this problem, and this for several reasons:

  1. Such a solution confirms that there was indeed an Anglophone problem which invited the solution of a special status, which is obviously a stinging negation of the initial theses by the very people who previously denied the problem and who launched a repression of the movement, and triggered the war. By the same token, its buttresses the arguments by the Secessioninists on double-think by a Government which, having itself recognized its own error and responsibility, stubbornnly persists with imposing its own solutions that it will backfire in its arsenal of laws.

However, the problem of substance is not solved, because Anglophones have never asked for privileges or a particular administrative status. What they demand is a restoration of the sovereignty which they shared in the Federal State and which was the promise that led them to come to Cameroon rather than to Nigeria, when they had the choice.

  1. In the second place, this prescription freezes the English specificity instead of dissolving it. Giving them this special status sends the obvious message that they are inherently different from other Cameroonians and will forever remain so. This creates an abscess of definitive fixation which will be a permanent source of secessionist tensions.
  2. Thirdly, the management of these particularities will pose insurmountable operational problems. What is the specificity about; On the extent of the Rights they’ll be grated or on nature, or both?

a. The scope of Rights means that English-speaking regions will have wider powers than others. For example, they will not be saddled with a Governor who will be present in the Francophone Zone, or they may have consular representations prohibited to Francophone regions;

b. The nature of such Rights means that the rights of the Francophone regions can be withdrawn by the central government, while those of the Anglophone regions may not.

Whatever the case, in an operational sense, how will things be organized? When we want to pass a law in Yaoundé, how will that work? For example: “This law is valid for all Cameroonians, except Anglophones who obey their laws? “

Is this the model we want to build?

  1. Fourthly, this measure will trigger a widespread contagion. Assuming that Anglophones benefit from these special rights whose interest will be obvious to others, how will we prevent the 8 other Francophone regions from claiming them in their turn? Based on what logic can the Anglophone Regions have exceptional rights that give them a management advantage, when such a right would be denied to the 8 Francophone regions?

As we can see, the people at the Dialogue are producing an institutional monstrosity, even though it will have no impact on the field of conflict. We already have a very complicated institutional model, with its concepts of regional balance, sociological list, respect for minorities, etc. If we still have to add legislation taking into account regional specificities, we will not get away with it!

We can see clearly that they are lost! Yet they have been told that Cameroon’s level of diversity cannot be managed by a unitary state! To be bound to this model can only lead to a weird and quirky edifice, a hodge-podge, without coherence and without structural solidity. As a result, the multiplication of tensions and the continuous deterioration of an already weakened State are endless.

We must not bring this sinister comedy to Cameroon! What is this issue of tinkering with institutions just to maintain the fiction of an unchangeble Constitution?

Do people at the Palais des Congrès really have their heads on right? You are asked to adopt a coherent system, in which a Great State, called Federal State deals with the great things of the Nation, while the federated States each attendof its specificities, you bring us this monstrosity?

Do these people really have their heads?

Dieudonné ESSOMBA

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