The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has called for unity and peace during a meeting with the President of Cameroon.
Speaking to President Paul Biya during a five-day visit to the country, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the Government of Cameroon must continue its efforts to engage in peaceful dialogue and include all cultures and communities.
She went on to make specific reference to the recent challenges in the Southwest and Northwest regions.
President Biya responded by agreeing that a tour of Buea would be beneficial in order for the Secretary-General to see first-hand the challenges currently facing his country.
The Secretary-General’s comments take on added significance, with the Commonwealth’s theme for 2017 being ‘A peace-building year’.
During the course of the hour-long meeting, the President praised the Commonwealth’s support in helping Cameroon build and strengthen its democratic structures. On this point, he made specific reference to Commonwealth Observer Group missions, for their oversight of previous elections in Cameroon.
President Biya also noted that, since Cameroon joined the Commonwealth in 1995, it has benefitted in a number of areas, such as capacity building.
Following the meeting the President and First Lady hosted a lunch for the Secretary-General.
Addressing a packed room of ministers, ambassadors, high commissioners and presidential staff, Secretary-General Scotland said, “Cameroon is renowned for its tradition of peaceful and harmonious interactions. So it is with great sadness that we see it in challenging times.
She added, "However, as the Commonwealth family, we will do everything we can to preserve the unity and peaceful existence of any member of the family. As we all know, friction and division will not enhance the ability to deliver the peace that each and every one of Cameroon’s citizen wants.
The Secretary-General concluded, "I therefore encourage Cameroonians from all walks of life to embrace peace, unity and resolve any differences through peaceful dialogue.”
The programme was part of a full day of bilateral appointments, which saw the Secretary-General hold meetings with the Prime Minister, Minister of External Relations, the Head of the Senate, and the President of the National Assembly.