The Ambazonia Crisis - Visualising Risk
English speaking Cameroonian’s want to form a new nation called ‘Ambazonia’ as they feel they are marginalised and unrepresented in the country. President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982 and has ordered a crackdown on separatist rebellion sparking violence across the country. Attacks on separatist militant groups by government soldiers and kidnappings and murders of soldiers and police by separatists has caused serious unrest throughout the country in the past few years.
History of Ambazonia and Cameroon
• Cameroon was taken over by French and British in 1916 and split 80-20%
• French area was more economically developed
• French Cameroon (Cameroun) gained independence from France in 1960
• British Cameroon were given choice of joining Nigeria or French Cameroon
• British Cameroonian’s did not experience the equality with French Cameroon that they were promised leading to the violence we see today
Current Political and Security Situation in Ambazonia
In 2016, lawyers and teachers in English-speaking cities went on strike in protest at having to use French in schools and courtrooms. This was one of many protests in the region that had previously occurred peacefully until President Paul Biya, who has been president for 35 years and looks to extend his position, ordered an aggressive crackdown on protests.
The government’s aggressive response to protests included the killing and incarceration of multiple protestors encouraging increased support for the separatist movement.
On 1 October 2017, the anniversary of the Anglophone region’s independence from Britain, thousands took to streets to protest and demand a breakaway state that they would call ‘Ambazonia’. They intend to create a completely new nation and have even printed passports, designed a currency and a flag, composed a national anthem and set up a satellite TV station. This declaration of independence, however, caused multiple deaths of separatists and government soldiers and lead to guerrilla warfare across the Anglophone region of Cameroon.
Government soldiers have killed multiple separatist activists and locals claim they are carrying out random attacks such as torching people’s motorcycle taxis. Separatist militias, including groups such as the Red Dragons and the Tigers, have kidnapped and killed soldiers and police in hit and run style attacks and taxi operators have retaliated by forming the Seven Karta militia and declaring the town a no-go area for the government.
This year, however, 1 October 2018, the anniversary of the declaration of independence of Ambazonia, demonstrations occurred in major cities across the world in celebration but Ambazonia itself was on complete lockdown. A curfew and ban on public gatherings was put in place by Government and separatists themselves in the lead up to the presidential election and this lockdown caused thousands of people to leave the Ambazonia area.
Tensions between the two regions continues today and could even escalate into a full-blown civil war in the country with little progress being made in leadership of the country, particularly with the current president likely to extend his 35 years of presidency in October’s election.