Nov 9, 2018
The Colbert Factor
Like Hamad Hamad, Like Tibor Naggy
This reflection is inspired by the fact that although prior to the visit of the President of the Confederation of African Football, Hamad Hamad to Cameroon’s Unity Palace, he had been tough talking on Cameroon’s inability to host the 2019 African Nations Cup. Immediately he was received by President Biya, he declared to the press after the audience that CAF had no plan ‘B’ for AFCON 2019.
It is also informed by the fact that just as Cameroon authorities have been passing on the celebratory glass of wine to their ‘victory’ after Tibor Naggy, arguably the most dreaded visitor Yaounde had received in the recent past, and who after the audience with President Biya last March 18, 2019, declared to the press how cordial and fruitful their discussions were and that they rather focused on ways and means of improving trade relations with Cameroon, one could only conclude that Yaounde’s rejoicing may end with Easter festivities as there is growing evidence contrary to what Yaounde may want its followers to understand.
It is also informed by the fact that if relations between Yaounde and Washington were to be as cordial as the top U. S diplomat told the state owned media after the tete a tete with President Biya, the U. S State Department wouldn’t have timed the release of the Country Report on Cameroon’s human rights situation on the heels of that crucial meeting.
Granted that truly Donald Trump’s envoy only discussed trade relations with Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, it would not negate the fact that such discussions coming at this time were informed by the conflict raging in the North West and South West and the urgency of bringing it to a satisfactory end so that the U. S could comfortably urge investors to come invest in Cameroon. That they focused their discussions on trade relations could even have been the best thing that ever happened to efforts at resolving the Anglophone crisis. In effect, it means that if Cameroon does not jump at the offer from Donald Trump, economic sanctions could soon follow given that military sanctions are already in place. Knowing that America only becomes interested in a country when it sees potentials for business, it goes without saying that Donald Trump must in the months ahead play a front line role in assisting Cameroon find a lasting solution to the deadly conflict for calm to return so they start doing business with Cameroon.
Since Congress would not want the U. S government to do business with any country that violates human rights with reckless abandon, and in the manner described in the 2018 state of human rights report by the U. S State Department where Cameroon has dangerously glided away from its previous two-tier position, Donald Trump’s government must make sure Cameroon lives up to its international engagements of respecting human rights, including in times of armed conflict.
That after Yaounde, the top U. S diplomat flew straight to Brussels also spells doom for Cameroon as Tibor Naggy must have had time to meet European leaders including the Presidents of France, Germany and why not, British Prime Minister, to fox out a common U.S-European Union stance on Cameroon.
Although government believes the change of tune in Yaounde by Tibor Naggy was because of the tons of documentary evidence in both video and picture form to the visiting diplomat on exactions of freedom fighters on both government forces and civilian populations, that to an informed mind had little to do given the U.S State Department Report had already captured that in triumphant detail. If that were to matter, the damaging human rights report on Cameroon would not have been issued in the first place. If that were to matter, the tough talking before his arrival in Cameroon wouldn’t have taken place in the first place given that only last year the government spent millions of tax payers’ money sponsoring high level delegations to the U.S to present it’s case to both Congress and the executive arm. Yet, the 2018 U.S State Department’s human rights report on Cameroon’s handling of the conflict in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon is, to say the least, damaging.
I drink nantang that just like during last year’s visit where Biya jovially handed over presents to CAF President, Hamad Hamad while Eto Fils looked on, just like his press declarations after the audience pointed to the fact that Cameroon’s chances of hosting AFCON 2019 were intact, just like that did not in anyway deter the CAF executive committee meeting in Senegal in October last year to withdraw AFCON hosting rights from Cameroon, the same could be said of the just ended U.S Diplomat’s visit. Using the same mouth, Hamad Hamad, while congratulating Biya for his victory in last September elections cited insecurity and unpreparedness as reasons why Cameroon would not host 2019 AFCON. If as it later emerged that during the audience Hamad Hamad had actually informed Biya of CAF’s impending decision but that the President urged that such an announcement only comes after the Presidential elections so as not to compromise his chances of winning, it could also be argued that Tibor Naggy must have been sufficiently clear with Biya on the American and European Union position but both might have agreed to conceal the details of the meeting. Was it not the same Tibor who told the press that diplomatic conversations were not meant for the public sphere?
If one thing must be said at this juncture, it would be that the Anglophone conflict has gained international attention and there is no way Cameroon can continue to ignore the informed advice proffered by the international partners and friendly nations on necessary steps to seeking lasting solution to redress it.
The Muteff Boy’s Take