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UN Voted For Southern Cameroons Independence; Who Overturned The Verdict? 

By Bouddih Adams

SCNC and LRC flags

The United Nations, on April 21, 1961, voted for the independence of the British Southern Cameroons. According to the United Nations Resolution 1608(XV), the Southern Cameroons had a right to sovereignty. The UN General Assembly session voted an overwhelming 64 votes against 23 and 10 abstentions for independence of the Southern Cameroons to take effect on October, 1961.

(Resolution published herewith)
But, immediately after the vote, and while the Southern Cameroonians, the member nations of the United Nations and the rest of the world held their breath waiting for a new nation to be born on October 1, 1961 (about 6 months away) France, for its interest in French Cameroun, engaged underground action to thwart the dream of the people of the Southern Cameroons.

Britain, the administering authority over the British Southern Cameroons was allegedly hoodwinked by the French, while the United Nations turned a blind eye as the French cooked up and pushed the “independence by joining” concept which finally deprived the Southern Cameroons of sovereignty.

The UN and the British stayed away from the Foumban Talks where a so called Federal Constitution was imposed on the Southern Cameroons by President Ahmadou Ahidjo of French Cameroun who attended the Talks with a delegation among whom were French Advisers.

Mola Njoh Litumbe, who was a full man, 34, by 1961, and observed that argues that “The people of Southern Cameroons, by UN General Assembly Resolution 1608 (XV) of April 21, 1961, were to attain independence on October 1, 1961, by joining the sovereign State of La Republique du Cameroun in a Federation of two States, equal in status.

Mola Njoh Litumbe and his group, who have been fighting for the restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons, push many points to make the case for the struggle:

1) The concept of “independence by joining” had been defined the day after the UN General Assembly passed the Landmark Resolution 1514(XV) of December 14, 1960, which granted Unconditional independence to all trust and colonised territories.

2) This landmark Resolution was updated the very next day on Dec 15, 1960, by UN General Assembly Resolution 1541(XV), which states that, for a small country which, although entitled to sovereign independence in its own right, found itself incapable of bearing all the burdens of a sovereign State, such as for defence and diplomatic relations worldwide, such a State would be deemed to have attained a full measure of self-government by joining a neighbouring sovereign state that already had the facilities it lacked.

3) The process of joining, without comprising the independent status of either party, was to be achieved by the parties joining either by way of Association, or by Integration. That Resolution provides that, if the parties want to join by way of Association, the smaller territory retrains its territorial integrity and constitution, which it is free to amend without consulting the bigger county it wishes to associate with, subject only to any Agreement reached on the sharing of power in a Federation of two States, equal in status, as publicly pronounced at the UN by President Ahidjo of Cameroun Republic.

4) If the parties choose to join by way of Integration, they share the three (3) powers of Government equally, thus:

(a) The Presidency: The office of President of the integrated country was to rotate alternately each term between the two joining States;

(b) The Judiciary: The parties were to provide an equal number of Magistrates and Judges throughout the integrated territory, and where the judiciary is headed by a Chief Justice, that post also alternates in like manner as the Presidency;

c) The Federal Legislature: For the equality at the Federal Legislature, the people from the small state held a veto power on all draft bills before they were passed into law.

5) When, therefore, on February 11, 1961, the UN supervised a Plebiscite in Southern Cameroons to ascertain the wishes of the people as to whether they wished to attain independence by joining in either Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun, the terms of joining had earlier been clearly settled by UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of December 15, 1960, mentioned above.

The joining also had to comply with the provisions of the UN Charter Articles 102/103 which mandatorily require that any Agreement reached by the parties must be evidenced in writing, and a copy filed at UN Secretariat for Publication, should need arise.

6) The situation of the people of the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons is that, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 1608(xv) April 21, 1961, the UN fixed:

(a) The date and time of the termination of the British trust mandate over Southern Cameroons to be at midnight on September 30, 1961;

(b) Prior to the termination, a tripartite conference between Britain as the Administering Authority over Southern Cameroons, the Government of Southern Cameroons and the Government of La Republique du Cameroun was to take place urgently, to draw up a Union Agreement embodying the previously agreed terms of Association between the two Cameroon parties and, naturally, in compliance with the governing provisions of the UN Charter Articles 102/103;

(c) Southern Cameroons was to become independent October on 1, 1961;

(d) On the same date of October 1, 1961, the independent State of Southern Cameroons was to join the State of La Republique du Cameroun, by the creation of a Federation of two (2) States, equal in status.

7) The tripartite meeting, prior to the independence of Southern Cameroons on October 1, 1961, failed to hold. So, there is no Agreement between the two Cameroon parties setting out the terms of Association. No written agreement as mandatorily required by Article 102 of the UN Charter has been filed at the UN Secretariat. Accordingly, the joining process as stipulated by the UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV) has never taken place.

It is, therefore, safe to conclude that until the parties are able to agree on mutually acceptable terms of Association reduced in writing, with a copy of the Agreement filed at the UN Secretariat to comply with UN Charter Articles 102/103, the parties have never legally joined.

8) La Republic du Cameroun vigorously oppressed the passing of UN General Assembly Resolution 1608 (XV) of April 21,1961, granting independence to Southern Cameroons. So, although the Resolution was nevertheless passed, La Republique du Cameroun has devised various strategies, from time to time, to annex Southern Cameroons.

9) La Repulique du Cameroun passed a unilateral annexation law No. 24/61 in its Parliament, and had it promulgated by its President on September 1, 1961, at the time when Southern Cameroons was still a UN trust territory under British colonial administration.

That Law changed the name of La Republique du Cameroun to La Republique Federal du Cameroun effective October 1, 1961, the date when Southern Cameroons was to become independent. No Contract of Union, as stipulated by UN Charter Article 102 was established and filed at the UN Secretariat.

As soon as the British defence forces departed at midnight on September 30, 1961, and even earlier, La Republique du Cameroun moved its occupation SECURITY forces into defenceless Southern Cameroons, suppressed the independence of Southern Cameroons and has been in colonial occupation ever since.

10) All attempts by Southern Cameroons to celebrate their Day of Independence have been brutally suppressed by La Republique du Cameroun which has termed them secessionist activities and many Southern Cameroonians have suffered imprisonment and torture, many have died in the process and a large number of them have sought asylum in foreign lands to escape imprisonment or death at home,” the arguments hold.
This is the root cause of the on-going Anglophone Crisis that is raging on.

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