Top Vatican official Pietro Parolin has met Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, as part of a five-day trip in which he is expected to visit the country's Anglophone regions, where fighting between separatists and security forces continues.
President Biya said he had a “cordial” conversation with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Parolin who “delivered a message of peace” from Pope Francis.
The Vatican official is expected to meet the country’s bishops and visit Bamenda, in the North West region.
Parolin is expected to use the trip as an opportunity to appeal for dialogue in the ongoing Anglophone crisis.
Local church leader Cardinal Christian Tumi had been playing a role in helping to bring the fighting to an end, however, he was kidnapped by gunmen in the North West region on 5 November.
Mediation efforts by the Catholic Church have been squarely rejected by authorities in Yaoundé, and a request for bishops to meet Biya has fallen on deaf ears, according to Bishop Abraham Kome, head of Cameroon’s episcopal conference.
Fighting in the North West and South West regions started after a series of protests and demonstrations by Anglophones over perceived marginalisation by the ruling Francophone majority.
A crackdown by Cameroon security forces led to a self-declaration of independence for so-called Ambazonia.
A number of armed groups operate in the Anglophone areas and there have been accusations of human rights abuses committed by both sides.