The Representative of the State in the South-West Region was speaking to state media at the end of a working session with Senior Divisional Officers, mayors, and frontline community actors to examine necessary and concrete measures towards peace.
Attendees at the session agreed that actions to ensure peace and stability in the South-West Region, especially in rural communities are the only way to bring normalcy in the region.
Governor Okalia said the session sought “to bring all the living forces of this region, all the stakeholders, local elected officials to go to the grassroots population and to talk to those of their sons, family members who are still hanging around with guns to drop their guns because today, what the population of this region was expecting, they already have it."
“That means, the Regional Assembly with Special Status can do all that the population was expecting. They can solve all the problems of the population because we have in that Special Status commissioners who are like local ministers with a whole house of chiefs," Okalia furthered.
“So, they no longer need to continue disturbing the peaceful life of the people, the development of this very important region. The state has done its part of the work. Now, they should go and talk to their sons. Now is time for local dialogue within the families, within the communities to convince their children that they should drop their weapons,” he said.
Cameroon’s state forces have been battling to dislodge armed separatists who pitched their tents in the North West and South West Regions since Anglophone protests transformed into an armed conflict in 2017.
Corporate demands by Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone Teachers led to protests in November 2016. The street demonstrations later morphed into ongoing running gun battles between state forces and armed separatist fighters in the predominantly English-speaking regions, leading to untold destruction of human lives, their habitats, and livelihoods.
Tit-for-tat killings, kidnappings, arsons, maiming, and outright terror have become part of daily lives in some parts of the English-speaking regions. A Major National Dialogue organized in 2019 has since failed to silence the guns.