Separatists in the Anglophone struggle say no more dialogue now but negotiation is possible. What is the political implication of this statement? The Anglophone struggle has morphed from stage to sage since the 1990s to present.
The present paradigm is the most complicated to contain both to the Cameroon government and to the supra-national bodies (UN and the AU). Check out 4 reasons why the Anglophone crisis persists in our next article.
In a Facebook post on April 3rd, 2018, the secretary of state for communication for the “Ambazonia interim government” Chris Anu declared that “Dialogue is no longer an option in this struggle negotiation is the word”
The declaration was made following a roundtable meeting convened by the US Ambassador to Cameroon Peter Henry Barlerin with participants including civil society leaders, clergy, political leaders, human rights organizations and a government representative to chart a peaceful end to the conflict and deadlock.
One of the resolutions that caught the attention of separatists came from the former consortium president and the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa Barrister Agbor Bala who said:
An inclusive, reconciliatory and cooperative process of dialogue should be initiated with neutral parties to ensure respect of resolutions. Ending the conflict through dialogue will speed up disarmament, return of refugees and internally displaced Agbor Nkongho.
Pro-independence leaders though somehow welcomes the initiative for a roundtable discussion took to social media to castigate maintaining that dialogue now is null and void and only negotiation is possible. You may want to understand the political semantics of the terms dialogue and negotiation in context as per “Ambazonia”.
What is political dialogue?
Political dialogue refers to high-level discussion through mediation to achieve reconciliation between two conflicting parties. As per conflict resolution, scholars’ political dialogue is always necessary as in many cases regular state institutions are not functioning properly because they have been compromised by political bias, corruption, abuse of power and discrimination.
The role of political dialogue in such contexts is to strengthen the legitimacy of institutions by building consensus and trust in their proper future functioning.
What is political negotiation?
In international relations negotiation is a very complex concept and a Clare cut definition is almost abstract to come by. However, negotiation can be defined as “a process in which explicit proposals are put forward ostensibly for the purpose of reaching agreement on an exchange or on the realization of a common interest where conflicting interests are present” (Iklé, 1964)
From this definition, we see that the author identifies two elements that need to be present in order for a negotiation to happen: common interest, and conflict over that interest. If one of the two is absent, we do not have what to negotiate for, or about. The author divides common interest in substantive common interest and complementary interest; the former indicates that the parties will share the same object, or want to benefit from the same arrangement.
Complementary interest means that the parties want different things, and the only way to obtain them is through each other; they need each other’s collaboration and agreement (Iklé, 1964 cited by García A, 2003)). In general, it could be said that the expected outcome of a negotiation is an agreement.
To conclude, therefore, it can be said that the Ambazonia Interim government wants an Agreement to be reached between the Republic of Cameroon and the “Federal Republic of Ambazonia” and according to Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, such negotiation will be on the “terms of separation”. What is your thought on this analysis?