Cameroon's conflict: Will the National Dialogue make any difference?

Life in Cameroon’s two English-speaking provinces has been brought to a standstill by three years of conflict, which has cost about 3,000 lives and forced 500,000 from their homes.

The dispute had been simmering for decades, but boiled over in 2016, when teachers and lawyers started to protest against the use of French in schools and courts.

The government in the majority French-speaking country responded with lethal force, provoking rebels to declare independence for the region they call “Ambazonia”, which in turn led to an even stronger military crackdown.

In an attempt to end the crisis, President Paul Biya called for talks, dubbed the National Dialogue, this week.

Some were encouraged by this, but others dismissed it as a sham. So what has it achieved?

The National Dialogue made a series of proposals:

Why do these proposals matter?

A return to the name United Republic of Cameroon is significant as it would go some way towards recognising the different histories of the different parts of the country.

At independence, the Southern Cameroons (colonised by Britain) voted in a UN-organised plebiscite to be united with the Republic of Cameroon (formerly colonised by France).

The new country the two entities created was called the Federal Republic…

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