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Ambazonia, also known as Ambazania and Amba Land, is a putative state of separatists advocating for the separation of Southern Cameroons from the Republic of Cameroon. The Southern Cameroons was formerly the United Nations Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons under United Kingdom administration (1922-1961) which in 1961 voted to become independent by federating with the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon. Ambazonia would comprise the English-speaking portion of modern Cameroon.
|Federal Republic of Ambazonia
Territory claimed by the Federal Republic of Ambazonia
|Status||Putative unrecognized state. Recognized by the UN as part of Cameroon|
|Independence from Cameroon|
|1 October 2017|
|Drives on the||right|
In February 1984 President of Cameroon Paul Biya changed the official name of the country from the United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon – the name that Francophone Cameroon held before its unification with Anglophone Cameroon, formerly Southern Cameroon. Biya stated that he had taken the step to affirm Cameroon's political maturity and to demonstrate that the people had overcome their language and cultural barriers. The action was extremely unpopular among the Anglophone minority, who conceived the renaming in two ways. The first group believed that Biya was assuming that the Anglophiles no longer had a unique identity and was attempting to further assimilate them into the Francophone majority. The second group argued that by returning Cameroon to its old name, Biya had restored the Francophone state and seceded from the United Republic, thereby forfeiting his government's constitutional right to rule the Anglophone portion of the country. In a memorandum dated 20 March 1985, Anglophone lawyer and President of the Cameroon Bar Association Fon Gorji Dinka wrote that the Biya government was unconstitutional and announced the former Southern Cameroons should become independent as the Republic of Ambazonia. Dinka was incarcerated the following January without trial and in the process became a "martyr" for the Anglophone people's cause.
In 2005 the Southern Cameroons/Republic of Ambazonia became a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO). On 31 August 2006 the independence of the Republic of Ambazonia to include the disputed territory of Bakassi was formally proclaimed by the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO).
The name Ambazonia was used in 1984 by Fon Gorji-Dinka (leader of the Ambazonia advocacy group), when the parliament and government of the Republic of Cameroon changed the name of the country from the "United Republic of Cameroon" back to the pre-reunification name of the French Cameroun, the "Republic of Cameroun". In the view of some, including Gorji-Dinka, Bernard Fonlon, and Carlson Anyangwe, particularly in the former British Cameroon, this meant a dissolution of the 1961 personal union. It was in this light that beginning in 1984, Ambazonia, was declared to represent a timely intervention of the people of Southern Cameroons to return the statehood of the former British Southern Cameroons territory. Ambazonia saw this not as the fait accompli of a one Cameroon state but as an opportunity to engage both states into a 'constitutional review' of their post-1984 relations. Ambazonia believed that by "operation of the law", there should be an equal participation by the two states that made up the now extinct federation, in a new vision for their countries' (Republic of Cameroon and the Southern Cameroons) relations with each other. In the document, dubbed the "new Social Order", the Ambazonia's proposal of CACIN (the Cameroon-Ambazonia Confederacy of Independent Nations) was summarily rejected by the Republic of Cameroon. Instead, the leader of ARC (Ambazonia Restoration Council), Fon Gorji-Dinka, was arrested and tried for treason for claiming the continuing existence of the sovereignty of the 'Southern Cameroons' in the Republic of Ambazonia.
In 1992, Fon Gorji-Dinka, on behalf of the state of Republic of Ambazonia, filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Cameroon and President Paul Biya on the main charge of the Republic of Cameroon's illegal and forcible occupation since the 1984 dissolution of the United Republic of Cameroon and the declaration of the Republic of Ambazonia. This suit was registered with the Bamenda High Court in the Northwest region of Cameroon as case number HCB28/92. Conflicting reports exist relating to the outcome of this case. However, the plaintiff, Fon Gorji-Dinka maintains that the Bamenda High Court reached a decision according to which the court among other things held that:
(b) President Paul Biya is [also] guilty of treason for furthering and completing the treason of Ahidjo by bringing about the secession of the first defendant (East Cameroon) from the United Republic of Cameroon on February 4, 1984, reinstating its name "Republic of Cameroon" which had not been used since January 10, 1961. (c) That the break-away Republic of Cameroon continues, illegally and forcibly occupy the territory of the first plaintiff, which means the first defendant is guilty of an international offense of aggression and annexation, (d) The report made the Restoration of the statehood of the first plaintiff the starting point of restoration of legality.
In a 2005 judgment of the United Nations Human Rights ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) Tribunal Communication 1134/2002, the United Nations Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favor of compensation for Fon Gorji-Dinka for human rights abuses to his person and for assurances of the enjoyment of his civil and political rights.
Declaration of independence and formation of an interim governmentEdit
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Southern Cameroons declared its independence on 1 October 2017, and officially called its territory made up of the two English speaking regions of current Republic of Cameroon; The Federal Republic of Ambazonia. It has since then formed its Interim Government and the Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, has appointed his first cabinet in exile.
The declaration of independence followed a series of events that started with a lawyers' strike in October 2016. The lawyers had sent an ultimatum to the government of Cameroon calling for a redeployment of French speaking judges from English-speaking courts (a move seen by the lawyers as an annexationist ploy to wipe out the English speaking identity) and for negotiations to open on a return to a federal state so as to guarantee the safety of the English speaking identity. The Cameroon government ignored the ultimatum and cracked down on lawyers' demonstrations, provoking the ire of all Anglophone masses. The government resorted to harsher measures, killing many during clashes with peaceful protesters all along the course of 2016 and 2017.
Seizure of the Ambazonian leadership in NigeriaEdit
On 5 January 2018 members of the Ambazonia Interim Government were detained in Nigeria by unknown parties. Voice of America reported that Julius Ayuk Tabe and six others were taken into custody at a hotel in Abuja.
An announcement was made 4 February 2018 that Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako would become the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, succeeding Tabe.
- Victor T. Le Vine (2004). Politics in Francophone Africa. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 6–. ISBN 9781588262493. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- Nkwi & Nchoji 2015, p. 478.
- The Proclamation of the Independence of the Republic of Ambazania at Ambazania.org
- Marcel Fomotar. A Tale of Nationalism and Dissidence, Peace and Conflict Monitor, University for Peace, June 07, 2007
- Cameroon Separatist Leader, Aides Arrested in Nigeria. Voice of America
- Cameroon separatist leader detained in Nigeria as unrest grows. The Guardian, 7 January 2018
- Nkwi; Nchoji, Paul (2015). The Anthropology of Africa: Challenges for the 21st Century (illustrated, reprint ed.). Langaa RPCIG. ISBN 9789956792795.
- Carlson Anyangwe (August 2008). Imperialistic politics in Cameroun: resistance & the inception of the restoration of the statehood of southern Cameroons. African Books Collective. p. 60. ISBN 978-9956-558-50-6. Retrieved 9 May 2011.