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Cameroon lawmakers pin high hopes on US-Africa leaders’ summit

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Cameroonian lawmakers say they have high expectations for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that kicks off in Washington on Tuesday.

Lawmakers hope the United States will agree to prosecute more than 200 leaders of the West Cameroon separatist movement currently living in the United States.

Emmanuel Nsahlai, a Cameroonian-born American human rights lawyer, said the vast majority of those fundraising to buy weapons for separatist forces in the western regions of Cameroon are based in the United States.

“We have filed criminal complaints against nearly 200 top Ambazonia separatist activists, all of the top US leaders of the Ambazonia Governing Council, and also filed criminal complaints against a dozen of their non-profit organizations that they created to fund this separatist Terrorism and violent crimes in Ambazonia,” Nsahlai said.

Ambazonia is the name that armed groups want to give to an English-speaking state that they hope to break with Cameroon and its French-speaking majority. The conflict since 2017 has left 3,500 dead and 750,000 displaced, according to the UN

The Cameroonian government has for years urged the United States and Europe to crack down on separatists operating outside the country.

The separatists say they also want the US Department of Justice to convict people they believe have used the separatist crisis to create armed gangs that rob and kidnap for ransom.

On November 28, the United States Department of Justice announced that it had arrested and charged three United States citizens of Cameroonian descent with conspiring to provide material support to a plot to kidnap people and use weapons of destruction. massive in Cameroon.

Lawmakers also said Monday they want the US military to help Cameroonian troops fight Boko Haram terrorism on the central African state’s northern border with Nigeria.

In 2016, Cameroon said the United States provided warplanes and drones that provided vital information to the Cameroonian military against Boko Haram. But in March 2019, the 100 American soldiers stationed in the northern town of Garoua withdrew from Cameroon.

Cameroon is also seeking to improve its trade relations with the United States

Kaite Edmond, an economist at the University of Douala in Cameroon, said the volume of U.S. goods traded in Cameroon increased from around $531 million in 2010 to $130 million in 2019. He said that due gross human rights abuses, former US President Donald Trump barred Cameroon from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, which forms the cornerstone of US-Africa trade relations.

AGOA grants tax-free treatment to virtually all products exported by beneficiary countries in sub-Saharan Africa to the United States.

Kaite said that to revive its economy, crippled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Cameroon should negotiate re-admission to AGOA at the US-Africa Leaders Summit this week.

Cameroon attributes overdependence on oil and wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine to this year’s economic difficulties.

Delegations from more than 40 countries attend the three-day summit. Cameroon is represented by a delegation led by President Paul Biya, 89. Biya is making his first trip outside the country since May, when he traveled to Europe for a suspected medical examination.

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