The five-day visit of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth to Cameroon will be an opportunity to deepen existing ties.
Since Cameroon joined the Commonwealth in November 1995, much has transpired in terms of binding relations with the organisation. The multifaceted levels of exchanges that have taken place between Cameroon and the Commonwealth cover diplomatic, political, judicial, economic, youth, gender and other developments which have all been intended to foster cooperation.
Another, milestone started as from yesterday 18-22 December, being written in the growing ties between Cameroon and the Commonwealth following the official visit of the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Association to Cameroon on the invitation of President Paul Biya.
Although she is coming within the context of one year of social tensions in the North West and South West Regions sequel to bitter complaints by teachers’ and Common law lawyers’ trade unions over French domination in the English Sub-system, there is equally the fact that her predecessors have all been to Cameroon since both parties developed relations, starting with Nigerian-born Emeka Anyaoku (1 July, 1990-2000), Don McKinnon (1 April, 2000- 31 March, 2008) and most recently Kamalesh Sharma ( 1 April, 2008-31 March, 2016) have all been to Cameroon.
While Cameroon, on her part has constantly been at Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Summits with President Paul Biya personally attending the summits which took place from 10-13 November, 1995 in Auckland, New Zealand and that of 5-8 December, 2003 in Abuja, Nigeria. With such high-level visits, both parties have succeeded in putting in place mechanisms that enable them tackle several issues of common concerns.
When matters started degenerating in the North West and South West Regions with the underpinning concerns being the English language and the violent twists that the teachers and lawyers claim took, the Commonwealth was quick to release a statement stating the resolve of the institution to accompany the country as usual in building an all inclusive and united Cameroon where citizens feel at home and contribute their quota to nation- building.
A view that falls in line with President Biya’s ambition for the country and talking before her visit, Secretary General Scotland said, “I am very much looking forward to my first visit to Cameroon as Secretary-General.
As a valued member of our Commonwealth family, this visit will allow me to not only get to know the country and its people better but, more importantly, discuss concrete ways in which the Commonwealth can support Cameroon’s efforts to address the pressing challenges it currently faces." Already, on the request of Cameroon, she sent a team to the country in June 2017 to discuss how to “assist in the full implementation of the National Governance Strategy, which reflects Commonwealth values of peace, tolerance, respect and understanding.” Such a vision which coincides with the national objectives in Cameroon will certainly come under discussions with the various parties that the Secretary-General will be meeting while in Yaounde.
Apart from the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister Head of government and cabinet ministers, Patricia Scotland will equally meet with leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, Officials of Elections Cameroon, the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, National Governance Programme, the Civil Society and the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Mulitculturalism.
It is also obvious that those who have been yearning for a Cameroon that goes in factions, the senseless killings, intolerance, extremism, and violence that have been reported in certain parts of the country for the past one year that the crisis in the North West and South West regions have persisted will in no way appeal to the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
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