On Cameroon, ICP Asks Of Guterres' Pro-Biya"Concern," Threats For Wanting Independence
By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo, video

UNITED NATIONS, September 29 – When Cameroon's President for the past 30-plus years Paul Biya came to meet Antonio Guterres, he was accompanied by state media and... Inner City Press. Since the subsequent UN read-out did not mention Biya's abuse of Anglophones, or human rights in any way, Inner City Press on September 26, 27 and 28 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about these glaring omissions. The first time, Dujarric alluded to "private" diplomacy. Then on September 27 when Inner City Press asked ask, video here, Dujarric said that UN envoy Francois Fall will be going to Cameroon "next week." 

On September 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric deputy Farhan Haq if this would be before or after October 1, and Haq said he didn't know. Hours later, Dujarric's office put out a statement of concern below, which many see as too little, too late, with its emphasis on territorial integrity. On September 29, Inner City Press asked Dujarric if Guterres' concern is at threats to those in Anglophone Cameroon to stay indoors or be treated as "terrorists," for citing UN General Assembly Resolution 1608. Audio here. Dujarric replied that he doesn't have "granularity" about what's being done and said. But he put this out: "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon, including with regard to the recent security incidents in Bamenda and in Douala, and mounting tensions in the South-West and North-West regions related to planned events on 1 October. The Secretary-General has encouraged the Cameroonian authorities to continue their efforts to address the grievances of the Anglophone community. He urges the authorities to promote measures of national reconciliation aimed at finding a durable solution to the crisis, including by addressing its root causes. The Secretary-General supports upholding the unity and territorial integrity of Cameroon and urges all parties to refrain from acts that could lead to an escalation of tension and violence. The Secretary-General believes that genuine and inclusive dialogue between the Government and the communities in the South-West and North-West regions is the best way to preserve the unity and stability of the country.  The Secretary-General stands ready to support these efforts, including through the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). " We'll see. On September 26, Dujarric replied that Guterres would say there is a time for public diplomacy, and a time for private diplomacy. Video here. Some wonder, how many people have to die, or what kind of people, for it to be time for UN "public" diplomacy? Earlier on September 22 Inner City Press interviewed Southern Cameroonians out on 47th Street, then asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about people killed that very day. UN transcript here and below. The crackdown is also financial: Biya's Minister of Finance has threatened the National Frincne Credit Bank in Bamenda with loss of its license for taking part in the "Ghost Town" expression of desire for independence, or in the first instance a referendum. See letter here. This politicization should trigger action by the "decision making phere" [sic] written about by Biya's state media, the kind of media that the UN and now its new head of Public Information favor over independent press. From the September 22 UN transcript: Inner City Press:  there’s a protest right now of Southern Cameroonians on 47th Street, but more importantly, there’s one in Southern Cameroon where five people have been killed today, as Paul Biya gave his speech, so I’m wondering…  I know the Deputy Secretary-General had some interest in the issue.  There’s Mr. [Francois Lonseny] Fall.  Are they aware of these protests? Spokesman:  "We’ve seen the reports I think we would definitely… we would call on the authorities to show restraint and ensure that people have the right to demonstrate freely." But on the UN's 27th floor, it was all smiles. And much later the UN put this read-out on its website: "The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon. The Secretary-General appreciated Cameroon’s hospitality towards the refugees.
They discussed the latest political developments in the country, as well as regional issues, including Boko Haram and the situation in the Central African Republic. The Secretary commended Cameroon for its efforts to combat Boko Haram, and reiterated the readiness of the United Nations to support the Government in all areas." No mention of the Anglophone areas, much less the day's killings. This is a new low, even for today's UN. UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman had left the floor with the Australian delegation; it was unclear if any UN Human Rights official was present. One of Biya's handlers even signed the UN visitors book in advance for him. When Guterres greeted his next visitor he did so in French then apologized, the last meeting was in French.