Historians and constitutionalists gathering in Yaounde on April 5, 2013., have said that no legal documents were established at the time of reunification between the two Cameroons to bind them in a union.
They made the declaration during a conference-
debate on the theme “The case of Cameroon at the UNO” organized by the commission in charge of studies, conferences and debates for the celebration of fifty years of independence of Cameroon.
The conference that rallied several cabinet ministers and other senior state officials was officially opened by the director of civil cabinet at the presidency of the republic, Martin Belinga Eboutou.
In a chronological presentation of what appeared to be the decolonization process of British Southern Cameroons from 1945 to 1961, imminent professor of history, Julius Victor Ngoh admonished; “special note should be taken that the terms of reunification reached during the Foumban conference attended by both parties from British Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun were merely proposals for constitutional amendment and not a binding document”.
Ngoh’s ten minutes argument maintained that the elements of union between Southern Cameroons and East Cameroon were merely temporal proposals for future application and could not be considered as binding on the parties.
Ngoh told the 800-
man audience that “It should be noted that Majority of the voters did not understand the meaning of reunification. Most of them were made to understand that reunification meant being with their Francophone brothers for a while and to later pull out and gain their independence.”
The issue of the constitutional status of reunification was one of the topics that caught the attention of most attendants. Seasoned professor of public law and constitutional specialist, Ondoua Magloire, held an audience spellbound with brilliant legal concerns involved before and after the reunification of the two Cameroons. Ondoua who, however, had to go through thick and thin to admit that there was and there is actually no legal document binding the two Cameroons together claimed that the present state of Cameroon was born in 1961 and not reunification.
He stated that the union between two states is an international issue and for such union to be recognized, an international treaty must be signed to keep the two parties clutched. “There was neither treaty nor accord that can hold anyone bound today”. He stated succinctly. He, however, in the second part of his thesis disclosed that international treaties can only be signed between two sovereign states.
According to him, Southern Cameroons was not yet a sovereign state and so was not qualified for an international treaty that could enable her to sign a treaty with La Republique du Cameroun which was already a sovereign state. “It was merely an issue of an elder brother opening his hands to admit a younger brother.
Ondoua concluded that there was no reunification, rather there was the birth of a state, “we should not celebrate 50 years of reunification; rather we should celebrate 50 years of the birth of a state.” He said.
Meantime a statement made in the course of Ondoua’s exposition triggered some mixed feelings amongst some Anglophone attendants. They felt a dirty slap in their face. Hear him “the Foumban conference that determined the nature of reunification saw the presence of all the Anglophones who mattered at the time and who all voted for the terms that were reached. It would be unreasonable today for anyone to claim that they are not well treated in the union since everyone adhered to the terms.”
To add salt to the wound, he added that “all legal texts in Cameroon today including the constitution are clear that the most protected party is the Anglophones.”
It should be noted that Ondoua Magloire is one of the most seasoned constitutionalists in Cameroon whose presence in the hall was considered by many as a careful selection to dampen hopes by a majority of Anglophones who feel cheated in what they have often described as an unfruitful union and think that secession was still a possibility.
Anglophone journalists in the hall argued later that by selecting the best francophone constitutionalist to talk on reunification, a more brilliant Anglophone with good legal knowledge would have been selected to withstand him.
The choice of Victor Ngoh to recount the events leading to the reunification of the two countries was also criticized by Anglophones who described Ngoh as a native of Ewondo, settled in the South West region. They questioned why the traditional historical pundits like Fansoh who is noted for his unrelenting lectures on reunification was not invited.
Other panelists at the conference included Nforbin Eric, constitutional law researcher; Louis Paul Ngongo, Professor of political science; Michael Ndobegang, Professor of history; Abel Eyinga, eye witness at the UN during reunification debates and Dr. of military history, Virgini Wanyaka and Emmanuel Pondi, Specialist in international relations.
By Ezieh Sylvanus ,(CJ)