By Paul Njie in Buea

At least 16 Ambazonian leaders in the diaspora have been officially invited by the Prime Minister to take part in the Major National Dialogue convened by President Paul Biya in Yaounde.

The Ambazonian separatists in the diaspora were invited recently, as part of government’s efforts to see an end to the ongoing socio-political imbroglio in Anglophone Cameroon. Among those called upon to attend the talks were Dr. Samuel Sako, Acting President of the Ambazonian Interim Government (IG), Chris Anu, Ambazonia’s Secretary of Communication, Mark Bareta, Ambazonian activist, and Dr. Cho Ayaba, President of the Ambazonian Governing Council.

In an interview with the BBC earlier in September, Ambazonia’s Secretary of Communication Chris Anu said they would not take part in the dialogue convened by President Paul Biya, insisting that the president was not serious to engage in sincere deliberations with separatists. Chris Anu intimated that the separatists were rather ready for the international mediation initiated by Switzerland. 

However, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman J. Cohen recently warned that the Anglophone secessionists will “lose vital international sympathy if they continue to refuse dialogue.”

“Instead, they should accept dialogue but as preconditions, demand release of all political prisoners, a neutral mediator, and government acceptance of their political legitimacy,” the former US diplomat advised.

Some Cameroonians have criticized the form of President Biya’s dialogue, saying the terms of the dialogue only favour his government. According to critics, the venue of the dialogue — Yaounde— is not conducive for the separatists, and suggested that a foreign country would have been preferable to host the grand deliberations.

Some say the Prime Minister who was delegated to chair the dialogue is partisan, given that he is an ally of the president. However, others have praised the choice of Chief Dr. Josseph Dion Ngute as chairperson of the dialogue, on grounds that being an Anglophone, he understands the Anglophone crisis well.

 It remains unclear whether the separatist leaders in the diaspora who have been invited for the national dialogue will change their minds in the coming days, but concerns have been raised about the safety of these leaders if they were to be in Cameroon for the talks.