The horrifying reality of Cameroon’s Anglophone ‘civil war’

Children in Cameroon are bearing the brunt of the Anglophone crisis with schools becoming “battlefields,” says one resident. 
Since 2016, a wave of violence has swept the North West and South West regions of Cameroon – where English-speaking people in Cameroon reside.
The conflicts left children as young as seven in regions like Bamenda and Kumbo witnessing the everyday violence, says South west born James.
“A lot of these children have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What they have seen and experienced I can not  explain it. It’s too awful and there are not enough services that can help them deal with this.”
“Anyone who speaks the Anglophone will be shot and killed, and when this is happening you cannot film, you can not even bring your phone out or else you will be targeted too,” he told The Peoples News.
Over the last three years 80% of schools closed as a result of the “crisis”, denying more than 600,000 children access to education. 450,000 people within the NW and SW regions – half of them children – have been displaced to neighbouring areas, according to a report published by the UN. 
The violence, which has often been described as a civil war, started after English-speaking lawyers and teachers protested against their perceived marginalisation and called for more autonomy away from the French regions. 
Instead, President Paul Biya used force to break up the Anglophone demonstrations – which James believes radically changed the atmosphere in the country and started an uprising of violence. 

Impact of violence 

 In November  2018, 80 people were kidnapped from the region of Bamenda from the Presbyterian Secondary School Nkwen.
Several months later a total of 176 people, mostly students, were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen at Saint Augustin’s College in Kumbo, in the North West region of Cameroon. They were released the next day – after negotiations to shut down the school were made.
James admitted that over the last three years it was not just the French-speaking who incited violence. 
He said: “They (Anglophones) kidnap or hurt you if you advocate for school resumption, just like my uncle who is a pastor in Bamenda was kidnapped because he is in support of schools continuing.”
“ To them they think when schools are not functioning, it will push the government to negotiate. But this is not the case.”
The two Anglophone regions have requested greater authority from the government since former territories held by the British and French were federated into one central African nation in 1961.
The 25 year-old said people, particularly the young, have become “scared to the point where they avoid going outside to identify their families bodies.”
This is to ensure no one identifies them as also being part of the English-speaking community.
“I had to move from the South West to escape everything that was happening but my family was still living there so I would visit often. But like others they have all moved from there now to neighbouring regions {Limbe}. No one is left in my home town,” James said.
 He added: “It makes me sad knowing that children in some of the cities in these regions can’t go to school, it’s almost like a battlefield for them. And the fact that my father cannot go back to the house he recently built before the crises began.”
“All of these things have had a toll on me mentally and sometimes I wake up at night when its raining thinking about those in the bushes in those regions with no shelter it sends chills down my spine each time I think about it.”

Resolutions

James believes that one day the violence in Cameroon will change the same way Rwanda’s violence did. 
“In my opinion I think the United Nations and African Union needs to set up some sort of a peace keeping mission to keep the military and the separatists at bay so the civilians can return.”
“The UN and other organisations push for dialogues by urging a monitored negotiation  but unfortunately the government is reluctant,” he said. 

Names of individuals mentioned in this article have been changed for their protection.

Image by: Stringer 2019

Jeffrey Epstein found dead in New York jail

Prolific financier and alleged child sex-ring kingpin, Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in prison before his trial on sex trafficking charges.

Epstein’s body was discovered at 11:30 GMT on Saturday, and is believed to have been found hanged.

Last month, Jeffrey Epstein was found almost unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck, prompting him to be put on suicide watch.

The businessman’s death eliminates the chances of a formal and public trial taking place for Jeffrey Epstein, and calls into question whether much of the evidence collected by law enforcement will ever be released to the public.

The 66-year old hedge fund manager was held in a New York jail pending his trial, where he is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls in two of his American properties.

It is also alleged that these crimes formed part of a child trafficking outfit ran by Epstein that provided similar illegal services to high profile figures across the world.

It was found earlier this year that the well-known businessman, who has several connections with government figures across the Western World, had organized a child sex trafficking ring for rich pedophiles.

When American Law Enforcement stormed Epstein’s New York properties, they found a large number of images of child pornography, including nude photographs of what looked like underage women.

Epstein was known to socialise with notable celebrities and political figures such as Prince Andrew, a ‘well known’ Prime minister, Donald Trump, and the Clinton family.

The news comes a day after newly released court documents implicate Prince Andrew, the son of the Queen of the United Kingdom, and his girlfriend in the trafficking ring.

The documents provided photographic proof of Prince Andrew and his girlfriend were in one of Epstein’s London properties with a young underage American national at the time, who served as a witness to the current trial.

The witness, Virginia Giuffre, alleged that Epstein coerced her into travelling to London under the guise of a legitimate job to perform sex acts for prince Andrew.

The royal household called the allegations “false and without any foundation” and denied that the Duke of York had any sexual contact with the witness.

May fails to vote for Northern Ireland same-sex marriage, days after Pride Month

Theresa May was not present during voting to extend the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland, exactly 4 days after claiming to be a Pride Ally.

The Prime Minister released a tweet on the 6th of July addressing the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, saying: “I will be your ally for the rest of my life.”

However, the Conservative Party’s leader was absent from Parliament for a recent vote on whether to legalize gay marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

65 Conservative MPs voted against the legalization policy, including Jacob Rees Mogg and James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

8 DUP MPs, out of a total of 10, also voted against the bill and claimed that the vote breached Northern Ireland’s devolution settlement.

All 10 DUP MPs displayed interest in voting against the bill, however two of the Unionist Party’s MPs, Gavin Robinson and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, were enlisted to count MPs votes.

The legislation has put in place the ability for Westminster to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland, if Northern Ireland’s devolved parliament isn’t restored by the 21st of October.

While most of the United Kingdom has already had same-sex marriage and abortion legalized, Northern Ireland’s status as a devolved government has meant some control over which legislation was passed for the region.

However, Stormont’s Parliament has been suspended since early 2017, after Northern Ireland’s major Parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party, failed to settle disagreements over who will lead the Parliament.

Northern Ireland currently holds the record for the longest period for a state to lack a sitting government, at over 600 days.

Should the two Political Parties fail to restore the region’s Government by this deadline, there is potential for Westminster to begin providing direct legislative focus on Northern Ireland, which has previously enjoyed some autonomy.

During the debating session for the bill, DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: “[This vote] is seeking to drive a coach and horses through the principle of devolution, overriding the concerns of the people in Northern Ireland.”

However, Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, said: “This House has failed LGBT people in Northern Ireland before.”

McGinn added: “Tonight, we have a chance to do the right thing. People in Northern Ireland – and indeed across Britain and Ireland – are watching.”

All standing MPs for every Party except the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party voted in favour of the bill.

The legislation was the result of several years of campaigning by LGBTQ+ charities, and the efforts of MPs, including Labour MPs Conor McGinn, and Stella Creasy.

US Speaker of the House warns “no chance” of US-UK trade deal if Brexit damages Good Friday Agreement.

Democrat politician and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has warned the UK that there will be no beneficial trade relationship formed with the United States should the final Brexit deal, or possible lack of a deal, harm Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement.

The widely influential politician spoke at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s “In-Conversation” series, where the University invites powerful contenders in world politics to speak to a public audience.

Representative Pelosi, who spoke to Professor Peter Trubowitz, stated that the tenuous peace agreements made in Northern Ireland can not be “bargained away” during conversations with the European Union, mentioning concerns over the possible creation of a customs “back-stop” in Northern Ireland, should a hard-border not be formed between the Republic of Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was a political policy formed in the 1990s, which saw an end to several decades of intense fighting and unrest in the Northern Irish and Irish border between dissidents, and UK Government forces, culminating in a number of terrorist attacks committed by the Irish Republican Army, a long with several atrocities committed by UK troops and Government-allied paramilitary groups.

Tensions in the region have recently heated up once again as a direct result of Brexit, as it is thought a new iteration of Republican armed groups have begun threatening UK infrastructure and citizens with acts of terror.

The current Speaker of the House also remarked that regardless of whether Northern Ireland’s peace was jeopardised by the Brexit process, successfully putting a trade deal through Congress is still “no given anyway”, but the Good Friday Agreement was something the United States wouldn’t want to be “something that can be bargained away in some other agreement” as the creation of the agreement as a “model to the world”.

The Speaker also stated how Brexit has become such an integral issue to world politics, it overshadows most other economic transatlantic talks between other countries and the United States. Pelosi mentioned her discontent with any political trip to the UK simply involving “Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, Brexit”.

May urges MPs to ‘reflect’ as she insists UK can exit EU by next month

Amid the anger from Tory MPs over the extension of article 50, Theresa May has used her statement to the House of Commons to encourage MPs to use the upcoming Easter recess to “reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return”.

The prime minister emphasised the importance of cross-party talks that have been taking place between ministers in the government and the Labour Party and remarked that she hoped that an agreement could be brokered within the next few days.

Her statement comes after returning from the EU27 summit in Brussels in which European leaders attempted to agree to an extension of article 50 until the end of October.

Mrs May used her statement to apportion blame to Tory Brexiteers’ failure to vote for her deal for the decision to ask for a further delay to article 50. Indeed, she suggested that if MPs could pass another withdrawal deal before 22 May, Britain could avoid participating in European elections and then leave the EU at the end of that month.

“However challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the house is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both frontbenches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.”

Theresa May

Nonetheless, members of the European Research Group lashed out against May’s further delay, with Conservative MP Bill Cash quoting May’s statement as an “abject surrender” and inquired whether she would resign.

In response to the prime minister, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blamed the failure to “seek consensus” for the inability of any proposed Brexit deal to command a majority in Parliament.

May acknowledged that she had not wanted to ask for a second extension and cited the public’s increasing disenchantment with the impasse currently engulfing Parliament as a reason to reach an agreement by the end of the month

“…let us use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.”

Theresa May

Analysis by Oliver Murphy – Editor

Yesterday’s statement from the prime minister has opened a Pandora’s Box in terms of the political ramifications of another Brexit delay. Today, as a seemingly spent Mrs May took to the despatch box, you’d be forgiven for believing that this was yet another desperate attempt from the PM to try and salvage her dwindling authority.

But for the time being Theresa May has succeeded in at least quelling the once unwavering sense of dread at the potential of a no deal Brexit. Yet, the question ultimately remains: what now?

Labour is willing to continue negotiations with the PM to try and seek compromise, but two factors threaten this prospect: the prime minister’s lack of authority and whether Labour feels it is within their interests to ‘make a deal with the devil.’

Today’s six-month extension to article 50 complicates matters further. With the urgency to avoid a no-deal scenario gone, those on the Labour benches who had thought of voting for May’s deal out of desperation are less likely to do so. As if this wasn’t enough, supporters of a second referendum will be feeling a renewed vigour to push Labour towards backing any legislation to allow a fresh poll during the period of extension.

Yet, perhaps the most pressing task facing the prime minister is facing off the majority of MPs within her own party who wish to see her gone. Indeed, even the most moderate Tories believe that May’s authority has reached its end. But even those within the cabinet concede that there is nothing that can be technically done to remove the PM before December when the party can try again to bring a no-confidence vote.

The sense of delirium within the Conservative party is overwhelming. With no apparent cliff edges on the horizon, many Tory MPs will relish the prospect of an Easter recess. But recent months suggests that a parliamentary break does not always result in cool heads. Indeed, this was the flawed calculation that Mrs May made when she cancelled the first Brexit vote before the Christmas recess, only to find that MPs were even more determined to vote her deal down.

Amid the uncertainty that continues to engulf Parliament, one prospect remains clear: Labour could capitalise on the general dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party in the upcoming local – and maybe even the EU elections.

Above all else, for the prime minister, this latest Brexit extension marks the beginning of the biggest fight for her political career.

May facing Tory unrest as Parliament approves further Brexit delay

The extent of Conservative dissatisfaction with Theresa May for requesting a further delay to Brexit was brought to the fore after most of her MPs, including four cabinet ministers, refused to vote in favour of requesting a further extension of article 50.

Highlighting the prime minister’s dwindling authority, nearly 100 Tory MPs voted against May’s decision to ask for a three-month extension with another 80 abstaining. Some of her most high-profile cabinet colleagues including Andrea Leadsom and Geoffrey Cox did not vote on the tabled motion to extend article 50 until 30 June.

May only won the vote after securing support from Labour and other opposition parties with only 31% of her backing coming from her own party.

Despite today’s vote underlining the intense divisions within the Tory Party, the prime minister will proceed with her request for a delay until 30 June at an EU summit on 10 April, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the EU27 will force her to accept a far longer extension of up to a year.

Analysis by Oliver Murphy – Editor

Despite securing a narrow victory for an extension of article 50, today’s vote was a major defeat for a prime minister desperately trying to hold not only her beloved party together but her own cabinet.

With her previous withdrawal deal being defeated last week, May is charting troubled water as she attempts to unite both her government and the country behind her.

Indeed, pro-Brexit MPs have translated today’s major party rebellion as evidence that she does not have the backing of her party to pursue a soft Brexit that involves a customs union. Even then, she will ultimately wield no parliamentary majority for that if only 100 Labour and other opposition MPs push for a confirmatory referendum.

Despite the non-existence of cabinet discipline, ministers are unlikely to resign as they will ultimately fear the potential of being replaced by pro-remain ministers at this crucial time.

While Parliament and the executive continue to be consumed by the Brexit deadlock, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: May’s future. Indeed, how can the prime minister realistically continue having previously promised not to extend article 50 beyond 30 June? And now, as May loses the support of most of her party, reaching out to Labour and becoming increasingly divorced from the cabinet, the question remains: how long can she last?

Breaking News – May faces second resignation in no-deal protest

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris has resigned in protest over May’s refusal to embrace no-deal.

Heaton-Harris, a devout Brexiter resigned after a day of speculation that he might follow Nigel Adams, who resigned as a junior minister earlier today due to his belief that Theresa May was making a “grave error” in trying to reach out to Jeremy Corbyn.

He outlined in his resignation letter that he though the UK should have left the EU on 29 March, as planned, and that he cannot support any further extension.

One of his main responsibilities as a Brexit minister was no-deal planning. In his resignation letter, Chris Heaton-Harris, says he does not believe that the prime minister is aware of how much has been done within government to prepare the UK for a no-deal scenario

Analysis from Oliver Murphy – Editor

Today marks the thirty-sixth ministerial resignation since Theresa May took office in 2016, and most crucially the dwindling of the prime minister’s political authority.

But of course, charting a course for Brexit has never been a clear-cut exercise. Whether it be a no-deal or soft Brexit, each option risks potentially splitting the cabinet in two.

This latest resignation reaffirms the unrest currently striking the Conservative Party, and the tenuous position May holds as the Prime Minister, as well as further damaging the number of MP’s votes she can rely on to see her planned Brexit deal through Parliament for what could potentially be a fourth time in the coming weeks. Indeed, the warnings of the government chief whip resonates today, as the convention of collective responsibility is tested to its limit.

Love Actually Prime Minister Hugh Grant announces bid to replace Theresa May

Following on from comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s success in the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election, comedians and TV politicians around the world have begun to assess the viability of making their own bids for high office. In a major twist to the Tory leadership race, Hugh Grant has announced his own intention of emulating Zelenskiy’s success by mounting a challenge to Theresa May.

He may prove to be a serious contender. In Love Actually he demonstrated his ability to find love in the most unlikely of places, whilst also showing strength in his dealings with foreign bullies. This would undoubtedly put him in a strong position during Brexit negotiations. Perhaps in preparation for a leadership bid, he also recently accepted a role in BBC One’s A Very English Scandal in order to add to his political experience.

Already in contention to join Grant’s team if he is successful are Keeley Hawes (Home Secretary in the Bodyguard) and Peter Capaldi (Chief Whip in The Thick of It). More news will follow soon.