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Abstract

This paper links the nationalist conflict in postcolonial Cameroon to the prior intentions of the parties at the 1961 Foumban “Constitutional” Talks characterized by a false negotiation experience. I argue that the political developments in the Cameroon post-Foumban and the tensions that have led to outcomes such as the desire of British Southern Cameroons to “restore independence and sovereignty” resulted from the fact that the parties at the Foumban Constitutional conference had divergent prior intentions of the meeting, including false negotiating. In exploring the 1961 Foumban Talks, the framework through which the two former and separate UN Trust Territories under separate trustees were expected to negotiate the joining treaty, I analyze the Talks from historical accounts and from theoretical perspectives of negotiation. Drawing from the scholarship on negotiation failures in the public policy arena with Saunders (1991), Mitchell (1998), Mnookin (2003), Kriesberg (2002, 2007), and Glozman (2014) and also from human needs and structural theories as they relate to conflict causes, I make the claim that the outcome of the 1961 Foumban Talks has mainly been a consequence of false negotiating, the different visions of the parties, and the divergent influences of the conduct and implementation of the Talks between Independent French-speaking République du Cameroun and British Southern Cameroons.

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