Southern Cameroons Conflict

Cameroons

Southern Cameroons was the southern part of the British Mandate territory of Cameroons in West Africa. Since 1961 it is part of the Republic of Cameroon, where it makes up the Northwest Region and Southwest Region. Since 1994, pressure groups in the territory have sought independence from the Republique of Cameroon (La Republique du Cameroun), and the Republic of Ambazonia was formally declared by the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO) on 31 August 2006. Following the Treaty of Versailles, the German territory of Kamerun was formally divided on June 28, 1919 between a French and a British League of Nations Mandate, the French, who had previously administered the whole occupied territory, getting the larger. The French mandate was known as Cameroun. The British mandate comprised two geographically separate territories, Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. They were administered from, but not joined to, the British territory of Nigeria through the British Resident (although some incumbents had the rank of District Officer, Senior Resident or Deputy Resident) with headquarters in Buea. Applying the principle of indirect rule, the British allowed native authorities to administer populations according to their own traditions. These also collected taxes, which were then paid over to the British. The British devoted themselves to trade, and to exploiting the economic and mining resources of the territory. South Cameroons students, including Emmanuel Mbela Lifafa Endeley, created the Cameroons Youth League (CYL) on 27 March 1940, to oppose what they saw as the exploitation of their country.

Southern Cameroons became part of Cameroon on 1 October 1961. Foncha served as Prime Minister of West Cameroun and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Cameroun. However, the English-speaking peoples of the Southern Cameroons (now West Cameroun) did not believe that they were fairly treated by the French-speaking government of the country. Following a referendum on 20 May 1972, a new constitution was adopted in Cameroun which replaced the federal state with a unitary state. Southern Cameroons lost its autonomous status and became the Northwest Province and Southwest Province of the Republic of Cameroun. The Southern Cameroonians felt further marginalised. Groups such as the Cameroon Anglophone Movement (CAM) demanded greater autonomy, or independence, for the provinces. Pro-independence groups claim that UN resolution 1608 21 April 1961, which required the UK, the Government of the Southern Cameroons and Republic of Cameroun to engage in talks with a view to agreeing measures for union of the two countries, was not implemented, and that the Government of the United Kingdom was negligent in terminating its trusteeship without ensuring that proper arrangements were made. They say that the adoption of a federal constitution by Cameroun on 1 September 1961 constituted annexation of South Cameroons. Representatives of Anglophone groups convened the first All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) in Buea from 2 April to 3 April 1993. The conference issued the “Buea Declaration”, which called for constitutional amendments to restore the 1961 federation. This was followed by the second All Anglophone Conference (AAC2) in Bamenda in 1994. This conference issued the “Bamenda Declaration”, which stated that if the federal state was not restored within a reasonable time, Southern Cameroons would declare its independence. The AAC was renamed the Southern Cameroons Peoples Conference (SCPC), and later the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO), with the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) as the executive governing body. Younger activists formed the Southern Cameroons Youth League (SCYL) in Buea on 28 May 1995. The SCNC sent a delegation, led by John Foncha, to the United Nations, which was received on 1 June 1995 and presented a petition against the ‘annexation’ of the Southern Cameroons by French Cameroun. This was followed by a signature referendum the same year, which the organisers claim produced a 99% vote in favour of independence with 315,000 people voting