The symbolic declaration of independence of the “Federal Republic of Ambazonia” on the first of October and the subsequent declaration of war on the insurgents by President Paul Biya have led to a rapidly escalating situation.
Despite a large deployment of security forces, in particular, the BRI – Brigade de Recherche et d’Intervention – the security environment has continued to deteriorate over the past six weeks. Although protests have receded substantially from their peak in October 2017, militant attacks have not.
QI recorded, 12 militant attacks in November and 8 in the first half of December, killing or injuring 32 security forces personnel.
Most of the fighting has been concentrated in Manyu district, which was declared military red zone on 30 November. However, militants have also launched attacks in Bamenda, the main city in the North West region, and in Kumba near the “border” with Francophone Cameroon.
The current militant force is made up of a few dozen fighters, under the command of “minister of defence” Lucas Ayaba Cho and allegedly trained by Nso Foncha Nkem, a former US soldier. The current level of repression is likely to motivate new recruits from the displaced population, but it remains to be seen whether they will be capable to maintain an operational tempo strong enough to erode the morale of security forces and galvanise the local population into going in a full insurrection.
The claim by the Ambazonian Secretary of State for communication that 400 Cameroonian soldiers had defected to the Amazonian Defence Force could not be independently verified at this time. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWJfkdWl7Y&feature=youtu.be&a=).
The conjunction of a three-day dead city called by the secessionist from Monday 18th December to Wednesday 20th December, with the visit by Francophone opposition parliamentarians in the Anglophone region on a fact-finding mission and the arrival in Yaoundé of Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland is likely to provide a window of relative calm. However, it is unlikely that a diplomatic solution can be brokered at this stage, as both sides believe they can prevail militarily.