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Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border: Construction of the “wall of integration” at the birth of the ZLEC

09.08.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Materializing the limits of its territory, defending its territory against external attacks, regulating the wave of external migrants, are usually part of the elements leading some countries to erect barriers of protection and separation with their neighbors. In the recent history of our humanity, such a phenomenon has been observed in several border countries. Until today, US President Donald Trump is still threatening to build a wall of separation along the border that the United States shares with the Mexican neighbor. For the latter, the gradual increase in the crime rate in the United States. The American context is not the latest, another case, yet not the same kind to germinate in the mind of a country in Central Africa, bringing with him several questions.

The “Pared de integracion”, the Spanish name of the wall under construction on the border between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, is in reality the wall of shame, discord and separation. Integracion, a Spanish word that literally means integration into French, is only used here as the baptismal name given to this wall by the Malabo authorities. The contrast with the new ideals that the African continent wants to acquire, at a time when we are talking more and more about a common market, has become a major concern. Several voices have risen to shout their indignation at such a construction that clearly undermines the project to develop a continental free trade area. Nevertheless, faced with security issues and the words of the authorities of Malabo that foreshadowed such a construction, it is necessary to note the impact that the “pared of integracion” could have on the Continental Free Trade Zone. African (ZLEC).

The warning signs of the erection of the controversial wall

With the succession of negative events that was observed at the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border in 2017, many people already thought that we were heading towards the construction of a separation barrier between the two countries. . The thinly veiled stakes of such a construction were then implicitly, according to the Equatorial Guinean authorities, linked to the coup attempt foiled in Cameroon against the Equatorial Guinean government. As an indication of the failed coup on 27 December 2017, heavily armed men were arrested in Kyé Ossi in the Ntem Valley, a region in southern Cameroon. These individuals, some thirty or so, composed of Chadian, Central African and South Sudanese mercenaries were planning to attack the Malabo power. Any situation that then led to the closing of the border between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea decided unilaterally by Malabo. Subsequently, as if to justify this closure in the depths of security conflicts, the Equatorial Guinean authorities had strongly militarized the entire north of the mainland with the launch of the “Operacion Seguiriadad”. In the face of increasing criticism, since such a closure was a major disruption to trade between the two countries, the authorities had created a temporary solution with the partial reopening of the border.

Faced with the economic losses estimated by the closure of the border and the discontent that had invaded the atmosphere, the solution found was to reopen even temporarily the border to allow transit and exchanges that pass daily by Kyé Ossi. The reopening of the border was decided on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Only a restriction was imposed on this reopening, allowing only a partial reopening and no longer full-time as in the past. Four months after the interruption of overland trade between the two countries, the border is now open only on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The unconfessed objectives of such a construction

The official reason invoked by the Malabo authorities to justify the construction of the integration wall is of a security nature. The authorities want to limit the incursions of looters who every day cross the border by Kyé Ossi to come to conduct their actions in Equatorial Guinea. Something disproved by several disillusioned observers including Cameroon’s Gideon Mba who report this evolution of the Cemac to a safe all considered deplorable. For him, it is a sad observation to see that Africans are just suffering the causes of the brake to full integration and do not take the time to deal with the problems to the bottom.

Apart from him, several other people who do not see this infrastructure very favorably, are not convinced by the idea of securing the borders brandished by the Equatorial Guinean authorities. It is even a site whose vocation contrasts with normal life, breathes François-Xavier Ndong Oba’a, head of the village “Petit Bonanjo”, last district near the border before Equatorial Guinea. He even uses words such as “separation, shame and contempt” to describe such a construction. Finally, Dieudonné Feuzeu, professor of philosophy at Kyé Ossi’s bilingual school, is eminently political: it serves to show that Malabo acts on the basis of a perception of insecurity, sometimes exploited by extremes. So the temptation is great for the authorities in place to respond in a visible and tangible way by erecting a wall in highlight the failed coup of December 2017.

Impact on the exchange of the CFTA

Translating for many the allegory of Africa’s inability to agree on a community ideal, the construction of the integration wall, initiated by Equatorial Guinea, is in complete disagreement with the main principles of the zone. Continental free trade. Operated with the last AU summit in Niamey on July 7 and 8, the CFTA must allow a complete and complete free movement of people and goods in all countries of the African space. So with the construction of the border integration wall, the fundamental principle of the CFTA will be greatly weakened in the sense that this kind of protectionist practice will diminish the competitiveness of the common and unique market of goods and services that is put in place for the first time at the continental level. Any situation that makes Gabonese Blanche Makunze say that it is very sad that we reduce the public space community because of fear.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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