The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
For the past two years, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has continued to monitor and follow the governance challenges being faced by the government of Cameroon. This renewed focus was due to the November 2016 peaceful strike of lawyers, teachers and other professionals that escalated into violence, drawing out ethnic and religious tensions, and impacting on the stability and peace that the country had enjoyed for some decades.
Today, the confrontation between Cameroon’s government and separatists continues to escalate resulting in casualties of civilians and state security officers. The scenes we see today of this continuing confrontation bear no resemblance to the peaceful strike that began two years ago.
A peaceful Cameroon is vital not only for the region but for the wider continent. Often described as ‘Africa in miniature’, Cameroon reflects the cultural, ethnic and geographic diversity of the continent. This young nation also follows the wider trends of Africa’s growing youth demographic, with 15-34-year olds constituting over 77% of the population in the country.
The 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, published a few weeks ago, highlights the ongoing governance challenges in Cameroon and captures worrisome deteriorating trends. The Overall Governance measure continues to show decline, particularly in the last five years. This decline is manifested notably in the category of Safety & Rule of Law as measured mainly by the unsatisfactory performance relating to the Absence of Government Involvement in Armed Conflict, Absence of Government Violence against Civilians, National Security, Absence of Domestic Armed Conflict or Risk of Conflict, and the Reliability of Police Services.
Performance in the category of Participation & Human Rights has shown no noted improvement and has been negatively impacted by the recent presidential elections where voter turnout in anglophone regions was reportedly very low.
The Foundation continues to be gravely concerned over this ongoing crisis in Cameroon and urges all parties to come together to promote ethnic and religious understanding and engage in meaningful dialogue to find a nonviolent solution. We encourage the country’s leadership to connect more with its young population and intensify efforts to increase safety and bring peace and opportunity to all its citizens.