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The name Ambazonia or Ambazania refers to two separate entities. One pertains to an advocacy group struggling for the total restoration of the statehood of the former British League of Nations Mandate of Southern Cameroons. It is also used to refer to the Southern Cameroons by organisations that struggle for the dissolution of the 1961 union of the Southern Cameroons with Cameroun.
The term "Ambazonia" is derived from the word Ambas Bay, the bay at the mouth of the Mungo river, considered the natural boundary between the Republic of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons. The name was coined by a group of citizens of the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons, led by Barrister Gorji Dinka, an ancestral leader of the Widikum people. They accused the President of Cameroon, Ahidjo, of having unilaterally withdrawn the Republic of Cameroon from the Union that was created in 1961 and later modified by Ahmadou Ahidjo in 1972. By Biya's decree No 001 of 4 February, 1984, he declared the name of the country as The Republic of Cameroon, which was the name it acquired at Independence in 1960 before joining with Southern Cameroons in 1961.
The Republic of Ambazonia was declared by a group of English-speaking Cameroonians led by Fon Gorji Dinka, a renowned lawyer and auto-proclaimed leader of the Widikum people of the Middle belt of British West Cameroon in 1984. This declaration was made after the second francophone President Of Cameroon had unilaterally changed the name of the Country from United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon, a name French-speaking Cameroon acquired at independence on January 1, 1960, before joining with Southern Cameroons on October 1961. The learned lawyer immediately went to work with his colleagues, including the venerable Professor Bernard Nsokika Fonlon, and came out with a document called the New Social Order in which they enunciated that by reverting to the name French Cameroon had at independence, Mr Biya, the President, had 'seceded from the Union and so the English-speaking part of Cameroon had the right to revert to its independence before 1961 and the new state was named Ambazonia. (See interviews with Gorji Dinka). This declaration of independence has not been recognised by other countries or by the United Nations (UN). The area remains under the control of the Republic of Cameroon. Southern Cameroonians in exile formed the Ambazonia Liberation Party (ALIP) in July 2004.[unreliable source?]
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 Ambazania to include the disputed territory of Bakassi was formally proclaimed by the Southern Cameroons Peoples Organisation (SCAPO).
As noted, the name Ambazonia was used in 1984 by Fon Gorji-Dinka (leader of the Ambazonia pressure 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, Prof Bernard Fonlon, and Prof 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 offence of aggression and annexation, (d) The report made the Restoration of the statehood of the first plaintiff the starting point of restoration of legality.
Followers of the Ambazonia pressure group led by Fon Gorji-Dinka assert that this decision was published in a Cameroon newspaper, Le Messager, Vol. II, No. 04, February 10, 1993. Other accounts hold that the case was never heard hence a decision was never reached.
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. Some of the Southern Cameroons separatists have joined force with the Biafran separatists currently demanding independence from Nigeria.
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Ambazonia has a land size of 43,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 8 million people according to the Cameroon state census (the census has long been subject to political manipulation; the number is likely closer to 8 million). It is thus slightly larger than the Netherlands, ranked the 131st largest country and has about as many inhabitants as Paraguay, the world's 93rd largest country in terms of population. (In other terms, Ambazonia is more populous than at least 60 UN and 18 African Union (AU) Member States, and is larger in area than at least 30 UN and 12 AU member states.) If independent, Ambazonia would share maritime boundaries with Nigeria, the Republic of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
- 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.
- Ambazonia on Indymedia
- Bouddih Adams. Ambazonia Political Party Formed. The Post Online, 23 July 2004
- 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