Yaoundé July 6th, 2020. Communications minister Emanuel Rene Sadi has issued a communiqué, denying widespread news that government had initiated secret ceasefire talks with incarcerated Ambazoanian leadership
While the format and wordings of the denial letter remains a subject of debate and controversy as the letter filtered to the public out of working hours, the core message, however, was well-received by all
In the one page denial that such meeting ever took place, Sadi says government remains committed to resolving the crisis through dialogue but insists security forces will continue their operation to keep the people and their properties safe in the embattled regions marred by a four years brutal conflict
The government was responding to a momentary and sharp diplomatic sea change of events when news broke out during the weekend that separatist leaders were involved in secret talks to call for a ceasefire in the restive Anglophone regions.
Reports had engulfed social media, blogs, and local and international news organs including TeboPost about a meeting between some unidentified government officials, on one hand, Sessikpou and 9 others on the other side somewhere in Yaoundé
Ambazonian leader Sessikou would later confirm they were involved in some kind of talks which lasted for about two hours on July 2nd, 2020.
As news houses feast on the news, the government maintained a suspicious silence, dedicating more time for media houses and politicians to blunder before denying the news three days after.
Information circuiting on social media about a meeting with separatist leaders is “inconsistent with realities” the communiqué reads in part, falling short of an outright denial if such talks ever took place in the first place.
Government’s denial surprised few as many had raised concerns Yaoundé might distance itself from the talks amidst increased hysteria.
Cameroon won’t be the first country to engage rebel leaders in dialogue while denying such talks exist in the same breath
Israel, USA, Russia, and many other civilized nations routinely use similar tactics, but in those cases, foreign enemies or adversaries are the opponents, not homegrown rebel leaders.
Who is lying?
Amidst a raucous debate about the reality surrounding such talks which will mark a milestone for the crisis, there is now a new cloud of uncertainty hovering over the very idea, if a meeting ever took place between the now arch ideological rivals
For a government whose handling of the Anglophone crisis has been characterized by outrage and impropriety, Yaoundé has spent its time exploiting tribal fault lines and engineering denying tactics for personal gains.
Its constant and rampant denial of political happenings on the ground which can easily be proven otherwise with ease has been well documented. The denial tone of Yaoundé has been Hail Mary.
Government’s high-risk gamble on talks which have the potential to at best end the bloody conflict in its disgruntled regions or at worst implement a temporal ceasefire now risk to exhume some of the nation’s most sensitive political arguments-Anglophone problem and might shred any semblance of national unity which the country is struggling to hold together at the moment
While independent sources tell TeboPost a meeting actually took place on July 2nd, 2020, governments cautious denial while insisting it remains open for dialogue to end the crisis indicates Yaoundé is playing politics while leaving the doors open amidst intense and increased international pressure for a ceasefire.
Ambazonian leaders in Yaoundé dungeon certainly have nothing at stake to have made such consequential political ‘stunt’, potentially opening a new chapter in an already deepen wound among the people on ground zero who continue to bear the brunt of the crisis