President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday March 23 2017

The Vatican wants to mediate in Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis

By Amos Fofung

President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday March 23 2017
President Paul Biya and wife Chantal Biya met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday March 23 2017

As Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis continues to ravage the Central African state claiming lives and further crippling the fragile economy, coupled with fears of an imminent civil war, the Vatican, last week made known its intentions to mediate in finding a long-lasting solution and restoring peace to Cameroon.

The announcement was made public by the emissary of Pope Francis as he met with Cameroonian authorities at the sideline of the UN Human Rights Council which took place in Geneva.

Speaking, the Secretary for Relations with States at the Holy See, Mgr. Paul Richard Gallagher spoke of the Vatican’s readiness to help Cameroon resolve its secessionist crisis, which has been rocking the North-West and South-West regions since October 2016.

Pope Francis’ emissary, who sat with Minister of External Relations, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, commended “the efforts made so far by the government,” before explaining to his interlocutor the mediation he intends to undertake on behalf of the Vatican to restore peace to the now troubled Cameroon.

The emissary is said to have requested on behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio, Julio Murat, an audience with President Biya to present their perspective towards resolving the crisis.

Discussions during the meeting which lasted some 45minutes also centered on education with the Vatican promising to continue its support to Cameroon’s education sector and strengthening the collaboration between the two states.

It should be recalled that last year, the International Crisis Group, an independent organization “working to prevent wars and shape policies” urged the Catholic church to mediate in the Anglophone crisis.

They wrote that “Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis, which began in October 2016, has morphed into conflict between security forces and increasingly well-armed separatists fighting in the name of the country’s marginalized English-speaking minority. The separatist impulse among Anglophones is growing as President Paul Biya’s government shrugs off the community’s historical grievances.”

“The Catholic Church could help break this dangerous stalemate. Present in all ten of Cameroon’s regions, the Church is one of the country’s strongest institutions. Almost a third of Cameroonians are Catholic, and the Church operates a dense network of schools and hospitals. Cameroonians take its views seriously.”

Keen observers have narrowed down on the point that after last weeks’ meeting, an all-inclusive dialogue mediated not just by the Vatican but other organizations who had made known their intentions to facilitate in the dialogue might be in view.

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