Within the past one month, there have been skirmishes between the security forces of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea over the construction of a wall by Equatorial Guinea at Kye-Ossi on its side of the border between the two countries.
These confrontations have led to the displacement of several people from the border town of Kye-Ossi to the hinterland and to the return of some Equatorial -Guineans living in Cameroonian border villages to their country.
While the government of Equatorial Guinea has continued to officially insist that there is no such wall being constructed on its 189km long border with Cameroon, there is broad clear evidence to the contrary.
Semi-official sources and the local media in Equatorial Guinea reveal that what is being branded by the Cameroon media and officialdom as a Trump-type border “is actually an enclosure constructed within its territory, far away from the frontier, to prevent illegal entry into Equatorial Guinean territory by individuals bent on avoiding the official routes.
“The road linking the two countries is totally open and is the sole authorised entry point for those wishing to carry out legal transactions.”
However, some analysts insist that by constructing the border wall, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and his compatriots intentionally want to subvert the sub-regional and continental integration accords ratified by their country.
A political analyst,. Annie Claire Ntamack, said “a wall constituting the border between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea is a veritable shame.
“An infrastructure like that one is a direct opposite to conventions and international treaties, not forgetting the principles of the African Union and even those of the Economic Community of Central African States as well as the international organisations to which the two states belong.”
In a rather tacit acceptance of the existence of the wall, border police of the former Spanish territory said “the real problem is that Cameroonians are in the process of illegally invading our country.
“With life difficult in their country, many young Cameroonians have decided to brave it to Equatorial Guinea in search of new openings in their lives..”
Young Cameroonians from Olamze near Kye-Ossi and Evouzok in Ma’an Sub-division use bush paths to enter Equatorial Guinea and sell their farm products at more than double the prices they can get at home in Cameroon.
“It has been several years since Equatorial Guinea started thinking about constructing a border wall at the frontier with Cameroon and the COVID-19 pandemic has just come to give the country an added reason for the necessity of the wall,” said Fabien Mvo’o, a young fisherman in Kye-Ossi.
According to Mvo’o, Cameroon should invest in structures that would attract young Cameroonians and make them prefer to stay at home rather than seeing greener pastures only on the Equatorial Guinean side of the border.
“Just see the difference between the Cameroonian and Equatorial Guinean sides of the border at night. While most of Kye-Ossi is in darkness at night, Ebibeyin on the other side of the border shines like daylight. The difference is like day and night,” Mvo’o said.
The authorities of the two countries, however, said they were working towards a lasting solution to the problem, which involves the clear demarcation of their borders.
“Today, no local person can give the exact border limits between the two countries. This is an issue that must be solved at the strategic level between the two countries”, the Governor of Cameroon’s South Region, Felix Nguele Nguele said after a meeting last week with Juan Javier Ndong Engono, Governor of Equatorial Guinea’s Kie Ntem Region.
“I am satisfied with the outcome of this meeting because when the population is not in peace, we the authorities cannot be in peace too. It has been agreed that for the moment, the absence of border limits should not prevent a farmer from going to harvest what he/she planted,” Engono said.
While the two governments continue the search for a lasting solution to the border problem, it is hoped that the security forces of the two countries would desist from trigger-happy attitudes that could lead to the further displacement of local populations on both sides of the frontier.