Cameroon launched a national dialogue on Monday in a bid to end a long-running conflict in the country’s anglophone regions.
Nearly 3,000 people have died since the violence erupted in 2017 between separatist rebel groups and the government, according to the International Crisis Group.
The talks opened at the Congressional palace in the capital Yaounde, and are scheduled to run until October 4.
The Cameroonian government hopes the talks can bring an end to the crisis that has hurt the economy of the Central African state.
The crisis was sparked by accusations by English-speaking citizens that the government was biased against them. This then led to calls for separation by some of the regions’ leaders. Protests escalated into clashes between the separatists and the government, which totally disrupted life there.
More than 500,000 people were forced to flee their homes for safety. Health, education and other amenities have also experienced the impact of the conflict, with many forced to shut down.
While the talks that begun on Monday exude optimism for a solution to be found, some separatist groups have opted not to join, with some sticking to their calls for separation of the Anglophone regions from Cameroon.