Cameroon English speakers want terror law repeal and amnesty to end violence

Anti-government demonstrators block a road in Bamenda, Cameroon. Bamenda has been a hub for protests by English-speaking Cameroonians, who have complained of marginalization in the largely Francophone country. (Reuters)
Updated 06 June 2018

Cameroon English speakers want terror law repeal and amnesty to end violence

  • Among the demands are a debate on introducing a federal system to the West African country which is dominated by French-speakers.
  • Resentment festered from perceived marginalization in education, the judiciary and the economy at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

YAOUNDÉ: English speakers in the Northwest of Cameroon want an anti-terrorism law repealed and a general amnesty to help end the armed separatist campaign, a government commission said Wednesday.
Among the demands are a debate on introducing a federal system to the West African country which is dominated by French-speakers.
The proposals come from more than 800 people representing a cross-section of society in Bamenda, capital of the Northwest anglophone region.
The commission, set up by President Paul Biya, said in a statement it had consulted traditional, religious, administrative and political figures as well as a “sample representing the population.”
Biya, who has been in power for 35 years, has long rejected demands for greater autonomy.
Resentment festered from perceived marginalization in education, the judiciary and the economy at the hands of the French-speaking majority.
But tasked with listening to the local population, the commission to promote bilingualism and a multi-party structure said it had drawn up a list of 18 proposals from English speakers to end the crisis.
Since trouble broke out in 2016, the government has refused to open a debate on the make up of the State.
However, while some English speakers want a federal system, the more radical seek a separate anglophone country.
Almost all those arrested are held under 2014 anti-terrorism legislation which includes capital punishment.
The proposals call for “clarification of the terms ‘terrorists’ and ‘separatists’,” that are used against many anglophones.
The amnesty should cover those who have been forced into exile as well as those arrested.
English speakers say they feel “unloved by the French-speaking brothers” who maintain “a superiority complex,” the commission notes.
The proposals also detail grievances over youth unemployment, corruption, tribalism, nepotism and the “total absence of industry” in the Northwest.
The authorities are accused of “arrogance in the management of the crisis.”
The crisis escalated last October after the declaration of the self-described “Republic of Ambazonia” in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, causing scores of deaths and prompting tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Human-rights watchdogs point to a range of abuses, including abductions and targeted killings.
The linguistic divide dates back to colonial times. Cameroon was once a German colony and was split between Britain and France after World War I.
In 1960, the French part gained independence and the following year, British-ruled Southern Cameroons was amalgamated into the new Cameroon, becoming the Northwest and Southwest regions.
According to the International Crisis Group think-tank, at least 120 civilians and 43 security forces have been killed since the end of 2016.
The UN says 160,000 people have been internally displaced and 20,000 sought refuge in neighboring Nigeria.


Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

Updated 27 min 32 sec ago

Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

  • Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame while a third person died of injuries
  • Macron called for churches around the country to be given added security

NICE: A man wielding a knife at a church in the French city of Nice killed three people, slitting the throat of at least one, and injured several others before being apprehended by police, officials said Thursday.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what the city’s Mayor Christian Estrosi called an “Islamo-fascist attack.”
“He (the attacker) kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) even while under medication” after he was injured during his arrest, Estrosi told journalists at the scene.NIC

Video footage shows police entering the church in Nice where the attack is thought to have been carried out. (Twitter)

Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the city on the Mediterranean coast, while a third person died of injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar, a police source told AFP.
“The situation is now under control,” police spokeswoman Florence Gavello said.
France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is underway in Paris. 

 

There have been unconfirmed reports that at least one of the victims was decapitated. (Twitter)

In Nice in particular, painful memories remain fresh of the jihadist attack during the Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
It was part of a wave of attacks on French soil, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, which has killed more than 250 people since 2015.

 

 

The attacker was captured by police and taken to hospital. (Twitter)

The assault prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute’s silence on Thursday, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers abruptly left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
Estrosi, who said Macron would soon be arriving in Nice, called for churches around the country to be given added security or to be closed as a precaution.
(With agencies)