By Ntumfoyn Boh Herbert (Yindo Toh)
Every now and then, a major diplomatic mission otherwise devoted to promoting the interests of former colonial powers across Africa, betrays an excellent understanding of campaigns by locals against imperialism or external domination.
The European Union (EU) is the latest organization to drop such a hint in a letter dated 23 March 2017.
The letter references the ongoing crisis in the Cameroons triggered by the campaign for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons.
“The EU is calling both sides to show restraint” reads the letter – in part.
Oh, yes oooooooh! “Both sides”.
Writing in reply to one of many petitions sent to its offices by the Spain-based chapter of MoRISC (Movement for the restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons), the EU officially and implicitly recognizes Southern Cameroons as an equal party with the Republic of Cameroon.
Admittedly without recognizing the existence of a territorial dispute and without acknowledging the acts of recolonization, annexation and illegal military occupation of Southern Cameroons by the Republic of Cameroon, the European Union letter is an admission that it is taking two to tango in the ongoing crisis.
It does not stop at calling on “both sides” to “show restraint”. The EU also calls on “both sides … to abide by the rule of law,” the letter adds.
The Brussels-based institution offers its good offices to mediate a solution, promising to throw its weight in support of “efforts towards dialogue”. It expresses the hope “that a negotiated solution can be achieved through dialogue” and what it describes vaguely as “relevant measures”.
In what is a hardly veiled criticism of the strikes which have forced a closure of schools across Southern Cameroons, the EU says the colonial regime in Yaounde has a “duty… to safeguard the right to education for its citizens”.
Very, very politely… maybe the more appropriate expression should be “very, very diplomatically…” the EU indirectly faults the colonialists for the Internet blackout across Southern Cameroons. It expresses the hope that “Internet connection will be restored soon”.
The EU sticks to the same diplomatic tiptoeing when its letter indirectly challenges the colonial regime to live up to its “duty … to ensure freedom of expression and assembly as well as security and public order”.
The EU says it would mediate the crisis “provided the authorities ask for our support”.
Sadly, the European body demonstrates its limited understanding of what would be a sustainable and/or acceptable solution to Southern Cameroonians. It offers “long-tried” and “all-found-wanting” platitudes that are limited to the provisions of a Cameroonian Constitution that no one honors – not even the colonialists who benefit from it.
For example, the EU seems to believe that the colonialists in Yaounde have a right and/or a duty to enforce – yes, “enforcing” is the word the letter uses – “enforcing the principle of a bilingual state, as provided by the Constitution”. Never mind that the EU cannot tell which of the Constitutions applies, given that the Cameroons has at least two – one, which is being progressively retired and a second which, according to Yaounde, is being implemented progressively.
Although fully aware that the call for the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons is founded in International Law, in United Nations Resolutions, in the Right to Self-Determination, and in the Right to Freedom from External Domination and Annexation, the EU lamely offers the Constitution – a much lower legal instrument – as the bases for formulating a solution to the crisis between the Republic of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons.
The EU does worse. It thinks that the effective implementation of decentralization “foreseen in the Cameroonian Constitution would be a key step forward for all the citizens and regions of Cameroon”.
In addition, it recommends a solution for “all the citizens” of the Cameroons and a solution for all the “regions” of the Cameroons.
If the EU was logical with itself, it would be recommending decentralization to Scotland as well and actively offering to mediate against Scotland’s campaign for independence from the United Kingdom. The EU would have campaigned for decentralization for Ukraine and Estonia instead of international sovereignty from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The EU would… I could go on, but you get the gist.
We all know, of course, that the European Union is never going to give up force-feeding Africans political solutions that they know are “dead-on-arrival” anywhere else in the world. It is called racism, damn it!