In Cameroon, a major national dialogue event to resolve the crisis sparked by an English-speaking separatist movement in the North West and South west regions has opened in the capital, Yaoundé.
Some 500 delegates composed of church leaders, the civil society, lawyers, political party leaders, the military and state officials are expected to attend the government-organised event.
English-speaking separatist leaders, who are mostly based outside the country, were also invited for the talks, but they said they could not attend due to concerns over their safety and security.
They also wanted the venue of the meeting to be in a neutral country.
Participants will be discussing issues related to bilingualism, cultural diversity, education and justice systems as well as decentralisation, among other issues.
Violence in the two regions started in 2016 when the government attempted to halt a teacher and lawyer strike over the use of French language in schools and courts in the Anglophone regions.
It later morphed into demands for independence by the country’s English-speakers when the government responded with lethal force.
President Paul Biya’s government has cracked down hard on protests in the two regions resulting in retaliatory attacks by militants.
At least 2000 people have been killed and over 500,000 displaced while the economy has been left in ruins.