Cameroon’s main opposition party on Friday called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all political prisoners, during talks with Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on resolving the country’s regional conflict with anglophone separatists.
At the meeting in Bamenda, capital of the restive anglophone Northwest Region, Social Democratic Front (SDF) leader Ni John Fru Ndi also called for the appointment of a mediator for resolving the conflict
“Everyone must be listened to. The SDF is for inclusive political debate on the crisis…,” said SDF official Jean Robert Wafo.
“We can listen to the secessionists without, however, agreeing to the principle,” he said explaining that a “clear and unambiguous” against secession had to be taken.
During Friday’s discussion the federalist SDF recommended four measures to resolve the crisis, according to a party statement received by AFP.
The party called for “an immediate ceasefire” and the demobilisation of all separatist forces as well as “the immediate release of all political prisoners held as part of this crisis” as well as the naming of a mediator to prepare negotiations.
On Thursday, Dion Ngute arrived in Bamenda with the message that the government was ready for dialogue to resolve the regional conflict with separatists, while stressing that independence was not on the table.
He said President Paul Biya was “ready to organise a formal dialogue to resolve the socio-political crisis” while stressing that independence was not on the table.
Since 2017, fighting between government troops and anglophone separatists demanding independence in the Southwest and Northwest regions has killed hundreds and forced nearly 500,000 people from their homes.
English-speaking communities chafe at what they see as discrimination from the French-speaking majority. But the government rejects demands for autonomy and has dispatched thousands of troops in a crackdown.
At the moment there are no channels for dialogue between the government and the rebels.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday that Cameroon authorities have regularly tortured and held incommunicado detainees arrested in the government’s crackdown on the armed separatist movement.
In October 2017, radicals declared the creation of the “Republic of Ambazonia,” covering the two English-speaking regions incorporated into francophone Cameroon in 1961.
The declaration went largely unnoticed outside Cameroon, and “Ambazonia” — named after a bay at the mouth of the Douala River — has been recognised by no-one.
Dion Ngute was also due to visit the other anglophone region — the Southwest Region.
The separatist conflict has forced more than 530,000 people to flee their homes while 32,000 others have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
The UN Security Council will hold its first meeting this month to discuss the country’s separatist conflict.
East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade
Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.
Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.
The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.
According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.
Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.
Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.
Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine
A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.
According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner
A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.
The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.
According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.
He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.
Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.