A keen ear to the words of the Chadian President throughout his stay in the national capital over the weekend points to a new kind of relationship based not only on trust, but also on regular physical contacts.
Let’s take trust. It takes two to tango, so it is said and President Deby’s regular visits to Cameroon is a way of saying that good friendship should be regularly maintained and has never given a damn as it were as to whether every visit here is returned or not as diplomatic practices would require. Moreover, the Chadian President, obviously in a show of respect for his elder, has often pushed aside diplomatic requirements that would in any manner inconvenience his host. This is really where relations between Cameroon and Chad under Idriss Deby Itno take their specificity.
The Almighty had wanted things to be so through History and Geography. As President Biya noted last Friday, we are aware of the depth, density, and solidity of the ties binding us. But these ties take an entirely different dimension when, upon hearing that danger strikes anywhere on the national territory in a significant manner, the Chadian President makes it a duty to be around with some soothing words.
By acting this way, President Deby is also giving the much-needed African touch to the way and manner relations between African countries be organized. Chadians have every reason to be concerned about what happens in Cameroon because one cannot afford to turn one’s attention away from where one’s treasure is stored or pay little attention to news about a community in which one has numerous relatives. The Chadian President has never missed any opportunity to restate all the good intentions of his country over Cameroon and never misses any opportunity or meeting organized in Cameroon.
Mr Deby’s most recent stay in Cameroon was in February 2015 for the summit on peace and security in Central Africa, COPAX and before then, he had been in Yaounde for a brief working visit in May 2014. Cameroon and Chad are bound to be each others’ keeper and the best illustration of such a posture is to be seen in the difficulties Chad went through went the Boko Haram sect blew off some sections of the Maroua Kousseri road a few years ago. Although it was a purely an internal security matter, the fallouts did not take long in negatively influencing the Chadian economy simply because of the huge quantities of imported goods destined for Chad that have to pass through Cameroonian territory and more specifically on Cameroonian roads.
From this perspective, Chad and Cameroon are bound to work together for the eradication of the obnoxious sect. And that is what they are doing within the framework of the multinational task force. Even at human level there are objective reasons why the two countries must work together. The University of Ngaoundéré is said to have a Chadian student population of over 5000 while the city of Ngaoundéré alone has a teeming community of Chadians who are very active in the commercial sector. From the standpoint of economics, security or ordinary social life Cameroonians and Chadians are each others’ keeper.