By Boris Esono (Cameroon)
Cameroon’s Head of State, Paul Biya has reechoed the need to “neutralize” all those who would refuse to lay down their weapons with respect to the Anglophone crisis, those in the Adamawa region and Boko Haram fighters.
The Head of State was speaking in Yaounde during the graduation ceremony of the 36th batch of the Combined Services Military Academy popularly known by its French acronym EMIA.
President Biya said: “since the outbreak of the crisis, I have continued to seek ways and means of ensuring a peaceful solution. “The National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee that I created is already at work and initial contacts on the ground are encouraging. I once again appeal to our youths who allowed them to be lured into a dead end to get back on the right path, rebuild their lives and participate alongside their other brothers and sisters in nation-building.
“As for those criminals who will persist on the path of violence, they know what awaits them. The forces of Defense and Security will continue to discharge their duty with firmness, determination and professionalism”.
He added: “The situation in the North West and South West Regions is of utmost concern to me. Basing their actions on a secessionist pipe dream, armed groups have in recent months spread death and distress, killing, mutilating, burning and destroying valuable infrastructure in these regions. The people in these two regions are the main victims of the atrocities caused by these criminal groups”.
The Anglophone crisis which started in 2016 has seen scores of people killed-civilians and the security forces. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that around 160,000 people have become internally displaced and around 20,000 had sought refuge in neighboring Nigeria. According to the International Crisis Group, at least 120 civilians and at least 43 security forces have been killed since 2016.
The situation especially in the Adamawa region according to the Head of State also calls for attention. “Our population especially livestock breeders are victims of criminal groups specialized in kidnapping for ransom. I have instructed our Defense and Security Forces to put an end to these criminal acts”.
The commander-in-chief further cautioned the new set of lieutenants and second lieutenants to respect virtues such as bravery, discipline, rigor, loyalty, and professionalism in the exercise of their exalting and noble task. He has promised not to relent his efforts in supporting them (security officers) in this delicate task which must ensure that Cameroon remains stable and unshakable.
It is expected that these officers 174 in number mostly from Cameroon and other African countries, Gabon, Congo and CAR, would be dispatched to the field with most of them sent to hotbeds like the Northern regions as well as the Anglophone regions.
The best graduating cadet officer Lieutenant Mboum Edinguele Davy Gildas was decorated by the Head of State and commander-in-chief of the armed forces while his comrades received theirs from the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of Defense, the Secretaries of State in the Ministry of Defense, Generals and other high ranking military officers.
The ceremony marks the end of a 36 month grueling training program whose was christened “Unity and Diversity” in reference to the socio-political situation in Cameroon.