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Politics of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Beyond Official Discourse

The political will by the Heads of State of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea to bring both countries closer has been evident through the various public speeches that the two leaders continue to make.

In diplomatic terms, it was certainly because of the desire to build such stronger bilateral ties that the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea enlarged Joint Commission was created in 1977. The 8th session of the commission that began on August 27, 2012 ends today August 29 with far-reaching decisions expetcted.

Among others, the Equato-Guineans want their educational institutions modelled after what obtains in Cameroon, have companies from Cameroon win more contracts in Equatorial Guinea and intensify commercial links between both countries. A few weeks ago, both countries announced the effective take-off of a project to train a number of Equato-Guinean policemen in Cameroon.

The measures may appear normal given the uncountable advantages that both countries stand to gain from ensuring closer ties. Since the creation of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial levels between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea on October 27, 1968 as well as the creation of the UDEAC and eventually the CEMAC sub-region, the clear objective has been to foster meaningful ties. This is not only at bilateral, but also at a multilateral level within countries of the Central African zone.

Unfortunately, the lofty ambitions have been more in words than in action.

Skirmishes involving the populations of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea were almost becoming the norm. Equatorial Guinea formally closed her borders to Cameroonians until last July 28, 2012. Current trends in relations between both countries are not only an indication of new-found harmony, but also a sign that the political will of both Presidents Paul Biya and Théodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo can be effectively felt by the general public.

Already, the free movement of goods and persons within the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC has persistently been presented by all will-wishers and economic analysts as a salutary move worthy of encouragement due to the multiple advantages that such cohesion portend. The tension and repeated conflicts as well as the micro-nationalism that smacked of geocentricism have been more detrimental to progress within CEMAC. This has made the sub-region appear as one of the most backwards in Africa in terms of economic, infrastructural and social development. Going beyond official declarations by effectively ensuring that measures taken are felt by the general public can only boost progress and not the reverse.