Is Cameroon a Transit Hub for Deposed Dictators?

2 Apr


1974, Cameroon for Pan-African reasons granted asylum to the deposed Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, even though the later never took it.
1975, General Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria was flown from Uganda to Togo via Garoua in Cameroon.
1982, Goukouni Oueddei of Chad fled to Cameroon en route to Algeria.
1990, Hissene Habre of Chad escapes to Cameroon for Senegal.
2003, Ange-Félix Patassé of Central Africa, escapes to Togo via Cameroon. Died later in Doaula, Cameroon in 2008 on his way to the hospital in Equatorial Guinea.
2006, Charles Taylor detained and returned by border guards as he tried to cross the border into Cameroon from Nigeria.
2013, General Francois Bozize of Central Africa flees for refuge in Cameroon with his family in hope to subsequently find a permanent host country. 
…Including countless political exiles and dissidents from different countries.

I thought I heard the army general of the multinational force threaten full force against the Seleka rebels if they as much as moved an inch over the cease-fire line! I seriously wonder what happened to the standby “FOMAC” regional force and the South African troops stationed on the outskirts to prevent any match on the capital Bangui?? Chicken out or did the rebels have powers of teleportation? 
In the beginning Bozize invited the French to intervene and even called them “Cousins” but they turned their backs and went to Mali instead. Now the French have sent in troops to secure the airport. I ask them for whom are they securing it? For French nationals and government looters to to escape the country I guess. The French, the rebels and former Bozize government members in Bangui must dance to the tune currently being played by the new kids on the block- La Seleka.

Cameroon’s policy of non-confrontation and non-meddling in the internal affairs of it’s neighbours despite it’s own looming internal discontent have earned it the surname of ‘an island of peace in an ocean of turbulence’. It is the only country that has not experienced a typical civil war or successful coup d’etat as all its six neighbours have.
Despite its leadership and apparent superior economic, logistics and military capability within the CEMAC region, it has refrained to counter frequent hostile actions from Equatorial Guinea and its only external military action were skirmishes with Nigerian troops during the Bakassi conflict and in internationally backed peace keeping missions. Its preferred recourse to resolve disputes is by international law and institutions. 
Given the above scenario, Cameroon is sure to entice any neighbouring leader deposed in a coup, however this is not the case. Faced with the dangers of a fracturing and long serving regime, it is in the regime’s vital interest to keep out transnational militants pursuing fleeing presidents by its denial to grant asylum to these exiles, except for rights of passage to a third country. 

Like every central African state, the CAR is very rich in earth resources. not long from now US diplomats and Aid groups will start going there to ‘build local capacities’ for democracy. The Chad-Cameroon pipe line is America’s largest macro investment on the continent, with the US drones already deployed in Niger, the whole region from Dakar to Mogadishu is a Uranium belt that falls in America’s most strategic national interest. In-land insecurity has the direct consequence on the Gulf of Guinea oil and maritime corridor.

Chad already is a restive country despite its active military force. Cameroon is the last remaining pawn on the regional chess board that is yet to be moved by supra and sub-national forces. Over in the Sudans, the situation doesn’t look any better with the ever increasing militia groups. Besides the Ugandan bad boy Joseph Kony is still being hunted by US commandos in CAR, DR Congo and S.Sudan. Nigeria already is under the full radar of the US which has even simulated a military drill to respond to the regional insecurity in case the country splits up in 2015. Honestly, the ripeness theory for bold and tougher action is testing positive here. It should not come as a surprise to anyone if the US AFRICOM finally moves its base from Europe to an equatorial state. Those who chose not to confront the rebels or might come in to broker peace deals could be the ones coaching the rebels to  topple the regimes they had once propped up and maintained. Set a thief to catch a thief.

Rebels are dictators best friends turned enemies….


By Nwanatifu Nwaco

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