Cameroon news is a constant stream of headlines, as is the case with many news websites and aggregators. Recent headlines include Separatist fighters blamed for soccer tournament attack, a Human rights lawyer facing death threats, President Biya’s military dominance, and the Anglophone crisis. Here’s a closer look at the most relevant stories. And remember to check back frequently for updates.
Separatist fighters blamed for attack on soccer tournament
A military spokesperson has blamed separatist fighters for the incident, which targeted a soccer tournament in Buea, a city in the Anglophone region of the country. Separatist fighters are pushing for independence from the majority French-speaking nation. A week before the soccer tournament started, the separatists vowed to attack the tournament, announcing a state of lockdown and punishing those who violated the order.
The conflict began after Cameroon gained independence from France. Anglophones were excluded from the political and economic power, and a growing separatist movement was formed to fight the French-speaking majority. The SDF is the third largest party in the Cameroonian national assembly, which is dominated by Biya’s RDPC. The UN and NGOs accuse the Biya government of repressing Anglophone dissent and clamping down on political opponents.
Human rights lawyer receives death threats
Michel Togue, a Cameroonian human rights lawyer, was subject to numerous death threats after he publicly defended three gay men accused of homosexual behavior. The trio were sentenced to five years in prison, but Nkom and Togue refused to back down, even when the threats were made through emails or text messages. The two lawyers also received death threats from the headmaster of the school where their oldest son was enrolled.
In an interview with the BBC, Nkwain explained that the threats came after he published reports about the Ngarbuh massacre. In one instance, he received a message threatening to kill him for “defending homo ideas.” Another incident involved another member of his organization, the ACODEVO association, which works to repeal the anti-gay laws in the country. In 2013, another member of the group was the victim of a sting operation and sentenced to one year in prison.
President Biya’s military dominance
Since the 1960s, Cameroon has been ruled by one party and two presidents, including President Biya. His “seventh term” was declared a “win” in 2018, with 70 percent of the vote. He has been in power since 1982 and will soon turn 92, but he is already planning to run again. Organizing the vote for regional councils has been a long-promised promise by the Cameroon government, but this time, he is rushing to organize it amid a coronavirus pandemic and separatist violence.
But in recent months, there has been an alarming trend: military forces are taking over Cameroon’s economy, which has pushed down state spending, and cut education and health care. Biya promised structural reform, but instead has relied on the southern co-ethnics to exacerbate public corruption and resist democratic reform. Consequently, the military is the main source of government funding, with the French military providing more than 50 percent of it.
The ongoing conflict in Cameroon has brought about riots and political infighting among Anglophone separatist groups. Although the Cameroonian government denies the existence of any such movement, violent demonstrations and clashes have been reported. In January/February 2019, women buried bodies in Bafut village, after all the men fled the area during a military raid targeting armed separatist groups. In this case, the woman had no choice but to perform burial and funeral rites.
The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is characterised by a lack of civic freedom. Internet access was shut down for 93 days in the restive region to limit dissent. This decision was deemed a gross violation of human and constitutional rights by many local and international groups. This has led to a climate of fear and insecurity. There are many reasons why this situation has occurred, but some of them are outlined below.
Police failure to launch investigation into attack on school
The attack on a private school in Cameroon in February is a shocking and heartbreaking development. Children from the region have been out of school for months. Separatists have imposed strict restrictions on schooling in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions for nearly four years. The brutal government response to the attack has endangered children’s rights to education. This attack is just the latest in a string of violent incidents that have impacted access to education and school enrolment.
The Cameroon police have not launched an investigation into the attack on the school because of their own inability to detect the perpetrators. As a result, public trust in the state’s law enforcement authorities has plummeted. Low crime clearance rates are attributed to insufficient police-public cooperation. Nevertheless, the Cameroonian police do contribute to regional and national stability and the public’s trust in them is gradually regaining.