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POLITICAL CONFLICT: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FACTORS FUELING ITS OCCURRENCE IN CAMEROON.

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POLITICAL CONFLICT: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FACTORS FUELING ITS OCCURRENCE IN CAMEROON.

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The prevalence of political conflict is a widespread concern in several nations, often resulting in the destabilisation, escalation of violence, and enduring social consequences. Cameroon, situated in the region of Central Africa, has seen a considerable amount of political instability, characterised by interconnected conflicts stemming from many socio-political, economic, and cultural elements. It is essential for policymakers, researchers, and international stakeholders who want to foster peace, stability, and development in the area of Cameroon to possess a comprehensive comprehension of the fundamental factors and mechanisms that give rise to political conflict (Mbacham & Jacques, 2019). The objective of this research is to provide a thorough evaluation of the elements that contribute to the development of political conflict in Cameroon. This assessment will provide insights into the underlying causes, various manifestations, and viable approaches for resolving such conflicts. 

In order to have a comprehensive understanding of the intricate nature of political strife in Cameroon, it is important to analyse its historical context. The historical trajectory of Cameroon is marked by the processes of colonisation, decolonization, and a multifaceted post-colonial landscape (Fomunyam & Kennedy, 2017). Cameroon underwent colonisation by Germany throughout the latter part of the 19th century. Subsequently, during World War I, the country was partitioned between France and Britain, resulting in notable colonial legacies among the Anglophone and Francophone parts. French Cameroon achieved independence in 1960, while British Southern Cameroons achieved independence in 1961, leading to the establishment of the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Nevertheless, there were ongoing tensions, namely between the Anglophone and Francophone groups, resulting in repeated socio-political clashes (Mveng, 2016). 

The heterogeneous ethno-linguistic mix of Cameroon is seen as a significant contributing cause to political turmoil in the country. The nation accommodates more than 250 unique ethnic groupings, with the Anglophone-Francophone dichotomy being notably prominent. The current Anglophone conflict that emerged in 2016 has been a catalyst for complaints and aspirations for more autonomy or independence among Anglophone Cameroonians, who have experienced marginalisation in political, economic, and educational domains (Enoh, 2018). In addition, the presence of governance concerns, instances of corruption, election fraud, and violations of human rights have intensified tensions and undermined confidence in governmental establishments, therefore playing a role in the continuation of political strife. Economic inequalities and the distribution of resources have a substantial impact on the occurrence of political strife in Cameroon (Bayo, 2015). Notwithstanding the presence of substantial natural resources like as oil, lumber, and agricultural land, the nation continues to grapple with widespread poverty and inequality, especially in rural regions and among marginalised populations. The disparity in the allocation of income and opportunity, in conjunction with elevated levels of unemployment, intensifies societal complaints and cultivates animosity against the governing authorities. The maintenance of political instability is further intensified by socio-economic tensions, which are exacerbated by economic mismanagement, corruption, and the concentration of power and resources within a small group of elites (Taku, 2019). 

Political conflict in Cameroon is influenced by cultural and identity-based causes as well. The nation's heterogeneous cultural tapestry, including a multitude of ethnicities, faiths, and languages, has the capacity to promote social unity but also acts as a catalyst for fragmentation when used for political advantage. The implementation of a centralised national identity that prioritises the Francophone language has resulted in the marginalisation of minority cultures and languages, hence fostering cultural alienation and resistance. In addition, the government's repression of cultural manifestations and political opposition has intensified complaints based on identity, especially among minority communities striving to safeguard their cultural legacy and independence (Awasom, 2017). 

Political conflict dynamics in Cameroon are influenced by several external influences, such as regional geopolitics and foreign involvement. Regional powers and international entities have shown interest in the country due to its strategic significance, especially in the Central African sub-region, as they compete for influence. Foreign interventions may have varying effects on political tensions, since they can either intensify or alleviate them depending on the goals and agendas of other actors. These interventions can take the form of diplomatic pressure, military help, or economic aid. Moreover, transnational matters such as wars that span across borders, the movement of refugees, and acts of terrorism has the capacity to extend into Cameroon, so adding complexity to the process of resolving internal political crises (Awasom, 2017). 

To summarise, the political war in Cameroon is a complex occurrence influenced by a convergence of socio-political, economic, cultural, and international elements. To effectively tackle the underlying factors contributing to political conflict, it is essential to use a comprehensive strategy that encompasses several dimensions, including complaints pertaining to governance, economic disparities, cultural marginalisation, and foreign interventions. This research endeavours to provide significant insights for policymakers, civil society organisations, and foreign actors that are interested in fostering peace, stability, and inclusive development in Cameroon and the wider Central African area via a comprehensive evaluation of these aspects.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Political conflict is a widespread and persistent problem in Cameroon, exhibiting itself via several manifestations including rallies, acts of violence, and societal upheaval. The nation persists in facing recurrent instances of political conflict, despite ongoing efforts to foster stability and democratic government (Fomunyam, 2018). Gaining insight into the fundamental elements that contribute to the enduring nature of political conflict is of utmost importance in formulating efficacious approaches to alleviate its frequency and foster enduring peace and development. Political strife in Cameroon is driven by a confluence of intricate and interconnected elements, including, but not exclusive to: The historical presence of ethnic variety in Cameroon has been a significant factor contributing to both positive and negative dynamics (Taku, 2019). The presence of inter-group conflicts and heightened political tensions can often be attributed to competition for political power, resources, and representation among various ethnic groups. Additionally, weak governance structures, which are marked by corruption, nepotism, and a lack of transparency and accountability, undermine the legitimacy of the state and contribute to grievances among marginalised populations. Furthermore, disparities in wealth distribution, access to basic services, and The conflict between the state, multinational corporations, and local communities arises from the competition for control over these resources, as well as issues related to land tenure and environmental degradation. Additionally, limited political participation, restricted civil liberties, and the concentration of power among a small group of political elites contribute to feelings of disenfranchisement and frustration among citizens. These feelings often lead to protests, dissent, and occasionally violent confrontations. Hence, the need to investigate political conflict: an assessment of the factors fueling its occurrence in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate political conflict: an assessment of the factors fueling its occurrence in Cameroon.. The specific objectives is as follows

To identify the factors fueling political conflict occurrence in Cameroon. 

Investigate the impact of ethnic disparities on the occurrence of political conflict in Cameroon.

Evaluate the effectiveness of governance institutional mechanisms in addressing grievances and managing political conflict in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following uestions have been prepared to guide the study

What are  the factors fueling political conflict occurrence in Cameroon?

What is the impact of ethnic disparities on the occurrence of political conflict in Cameroon?

How effective is governance institutional mechanisms in addressing grievances and managing political conflict in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Informing Policy and Decision-makers: The findings of this study can serve as valuable inputs for policymakers and decision-makers at both national and international levels. By identifying the root causes and drivers of political conflict in Cameroon, policymakers can formulate evidence-based policies and interventions to address these issues effectively.

Contributing to Academic Discourse: This study contributes to the academic discourse on political conflict by adding empirical evidence and analysis to existing literature. By shedding light on the specific context of Cameroon, it enriches our understanding of the broader dynamics of political conflict and contributes to theoretical frameworks for studying conflict in diverse socio-political contexts.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  investigating political conflict: an assessment of the factors fueling its occurrence in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will identify the factors fueling political conflict occurrence in Cameroon, investigate the impact of ethnic disparities on the occurrence of political conflict in Cameroon and evaluate the effectiveness of governance institutional mechanisms in addressing grievances and managing political conflict in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Political Conflict: Political conflict refers to the disagreement or struggle between different groups or individuals within a society over political power, policies, resources, or ideologies. This conflict often manifests through various forms such as protests, violence, or diplomatic tensions.


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