The Case of Ambazonia Vs Cameroun
On May 18th 1992 the High Court of Bamenda the North West Province heard a curious case, that of the state of the Southern Cameroons alias Republic of Ambazonia, its Head of State His Excellency Fongum Gorji Dinka and The State of La Republique du Cameroun and its Head of State His Excellency Paul Biya.
The motion to show cause and the subsequent orders sought were not contested by La Republique of Cameroun and against all predictions the court handed down judgement in suit No HCB/28/92 in favour of the Republic of Ambazonia.
The High Court of Mezam holden at Bamenda BETWEEN:
1. The State of Southern Cameroons, alias the Republic of Ambazonia.
2. His Royal Excellency Fongum Gorji-Dinka
3. Blaise Berinyuy AND
1. The State of La Republique du Cameroun
2. His Excellency Paul Biya.
Very Brief summary:
On 1/1/60 the French Trust territory gained independence, for the sake of argument, and became La Republique du Cameroun with established and internationally recognized borders.
Until the British Trust Territories of Southern and Northern Cameroons gained their independence in October 1961, negotiations between leaders of those territories and the UN, GB, LRC produced various undertakings and promises which lead to the mistaken plebiscite where voters chose “Reunification” in Southern Cameroons and “Integration” in Northern Cameroons. Analysis shows that Southern Cameroonians voted for “reunification” in the mistaken belief they were joining a loose federation – certainly not a unitary state. Northern Cameroonians choice of “integration” meant throwing in their lot with the Nigerian Federation.
As Southern Cameroons [mis]understood they were joining a loose federation of equal independent states, their border was similarly established to the prior borders of LRC nearly two years earlier. The implicit establishment of these borders was not by design but just by the norms, and would not matter for a long time while Southern Cameroons, known then as West Cameroon to LRC’s East Cameroon remained in the Federation or union.
It is fair to say the federation turned out not be loose, as Southern Cameroonians had intended when voting in the plebiscite, but was taken further towards a unitary state than they would have accepted. There was dissention to the advent of the unitary state but …
When Mr Biya took over, contrary to the provisions of the United Republic’s “constitution” the union was still in place and still as illegal and there were individual dissenters who had no platform to voice their dissent. The more vocal dissenters ended up in prison and that could have been that until …
Mr Biya sought to deepen the unitary state by removing the paradox of the word “united”. Well a “united” Republic is “united” by virtue of being united, not by being called “united”, so he decided to outdo his predecessor in the “progress” towards “reunification” by renaming the URC to just La Republique du Cameroun by promulgating law 84/001 of 4/2/84. It could be debated whether being called “united” is more of a paradox than decreeing implied unity.
Whether intentionally or otherwise the effect of this act was to restore La Republique of 1960, complete with its borders at independence, which had transitioned through being called East Cameroon in the federation of equal states to subsuming itself in the United Republic of Cameroon. This was a secession by any other name and the effect of it was that Southern Cameroons had been similarly restored – and not being the secessionist either!
The implication of the restoration law was that La Republique du Cameroun’s presence in Southern Cameroons was illegal.