Plans by the Equatorial Guinea government to build a border wall have caused consternation from the Cameroonian population especially those at the border town of Kye-Ossi and has sparked a strong message from the country’s army in recent week
As a member of the Economic Community of Central African state CEMAC which Cameroon is also a member, the very idea of a border wall in a union where the decision-makers have been preaching integration and free movement of its people in a manner which mirrors the EU styled union only goes to confirm speculations that the tiny country alongside Gabon are the two culprits blocking the union from integrating
President Theodore Obiang’s decision to build a long border wall along the border town of Kye-Ossi is a perfect script taken from US president Trump’s playbook where he had lavishly promised to build a border wall with Mexico despite criticism from within and without including Pope Francis
Trump’s border wall plans to curb illegal immigration and criminals which he says are taking advantage of the porous southern border with Mexico is aimed according to him to protect Americans from “rapists” and “illegal immigrants” stealing jobs in the paradise nation.
But despite the criticism Trump received around the globe including his own country where the congress refused to agree on funding the border wall of shame, the promise-keeping president has vowed to take resources elsewhere and fund the wall which has divided his own country.
His antics and rhetoric seemed to have inspired other leaders and despots around the world who now believe building walls is the way to go to secure their political powers once they feel threatened
Malabo says they are building the border wall because Cameroon has failed to stop the illegal flow of West African immigrants from entering their country in the Southern border and they are also seemingly tired with the excess Cameroonians entering their country every day.
But it is said that it was the recent arrest of some 30 foreign armed men from Chad, CAR and Sudan in what Malabo says was a foiled coup to unseat their long-time leader which has caused the oil-rich nation to embark on this controversial plans which will all but put the final nail on the regional integration’s coffin in the sub-region
Reckless and daring Move
As Yaoundé is struggling to come to terms with plans of a border wall with Biya’s government looking powerless as ever, the country’s military chief was dispatched to the border as was alleged Malabo had entered close to 2 kilometers across the Ntem river which naturally divides both countries to start their war.
Army chief of staff General Rene Claude Meka at the end of July went visiting with a message of force, warning the country’s army will most tolerate “an unlawful intrusion” into its territory as Equatorial Guinean ambassador is summoned to clarify the situation.
Two neighbors different fortunes
The news of the border wall could not have come at a worse time for authorities in Cameroon
With low employment around the country, rampant corruption and mounting international pressure as the country is battling terrorist groups and armed insurgency in 7 out of ten regions, Malabo thinks the time is right to build their wall unopposed.
But while Malabo reserves the right to build a wall on its border if it so wishes even though many say its morally wrong and appalling, news that the country has entered two kilometers into Cameroon’s territory is frightening and could be the beginning of a dangerous escalation.
That Small country the size of Equatorial Guinea which is smaller Cameroon’s South West region with less than 1 million people could nurture the courage and intent to encroach into Cameroon’s territory to build a border wall as reports suggest is a slap to Yaoundé and telling of the state of Cameroon and how the world sees us.
Cameroon’s military is stretched with Anglophone crisis in two English speaking regions, Boko Haram in far north and rebels in the east, the central African giant cannot afford another military confrontation- not even with Equatorial Guinea.
The two country’s boost of the unviable history of hosting the continents two longest-serving presidents with Obiang and Paul Biya haven’t been in power since 1979 and 1982 in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon respectively.
Empowered by oil money, Equatorial Guinea has seen the massive transformation over the years both in infrastructure and standards of living even though human rights and political freedom has been stifled in the process.
The country hosts a large number of Cameroonians and has been reported to brutalize many illegal immigrants in their country especially Cameroonians with many killed there.
Cameroon on its part has moved from a promising nation to a poor man in the region with rampant corruption, massive unemployment, and increased poverty.
Rights groups also score Yaoundé a very low grade and political freedoms in the country are anything to be desired.
However, the country remains the breadbasket of the sub-region and boasts one of the biggest economies.