UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A national dialogue opened in Cameroon this week. It’s an attempt to end a conflict in the country’s anglophone provinces. The country’s english-speakers account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 24 million. The rest of Cameroon is largely French-speaking.The English-speaking area is actually divided into two regions called northwest and southwest province.
The two provinces are permitted some self-governance and language rights, including bilingual schools. But many complain of francophone-favoured discrimination in education, the justice system and the economy. Separatists took up arms and have been fighting to establish a breakaway state that they call Ambazonia.
The week-long talks were called by President Paul Biya who’s hoping to end the crisis that has killed more than 1500 people since fighting broke out in 2017. At the beginning of September, separatists imposed a weekly lockdown that saw some flee the area, and it’s taking its toll on those who remained.
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