Cameroon’s President Paul Biya announced he had ordered prosecutions to be dropped against some opposition leaders including a number from the main Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) led by his jailed rival Maurice Kamto.
The move is the latest in a series of concessions from the 86 year old
leader who is under intense international pressure over a sweeping crackdown on the opposition.
He is also attempting to ease surging tensions in separatist anglophone
regions with talks on the turmoil wrapping up Friday.
I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military
Tribunals against some officials and militants of political parties in
particular the (MRC) he said on his official Twitter account in English.
In French he added that it affected those arrested and detained for acts
committed in contesting the results of the recent presidential elections.
He did not specify whether the decision would affect Kamto Cameroon’s main opposition leader who unsuccessfully claimed victory in elections last year.
Kamto went on trial with 88 others in a military court in September on
charges of insurrection hostility to the motherland and rebellion crimes
which could carry the death penalty. Their next hearing was scheduled for
Kamto was arrested in late January after months of peaceful opposition
protests over the results of the October 2018 election won by Biya who has
been in power for 37 years.
Biya’s shock announcement came on the closing day of crunch talks aimed at easing a bloody crisis in Cameroon’s anglophone regions which were shunned by the main separatist leaders.
Two areas in western Cameroon the Northwest Region and Southwest Region are home to most of the country’s anglophones who account for about a fifth of a population that is overwhelmingly French speaking.
The president on Thursday announced the release of more than 330 people
detained in connection with the anglophone crisis.
In a statement on Friday the president’s office said Biya reaffirms his
determination to tirelessly continue his efforts in the search for the ways
and means for a peaceful resolution of the different crises that may confront our country.
Delegates at the talks on the anglophone crisis on Thursday adopted a
resolution recommending special status for the English speaking areas
aimed at strengthening the autonomy of administrative areas.
But several separatists said they were unimpressed.
Ebenezer Akwanga a prominent leader said the people of self described
Ambazonia the country the separatists want to carve out of Cameroon did not need a special status.
We don’t want to be a part of Cameroon he said. Ambazonia is marching
to freedom and nothing can stop us.
The International Crisis Group has estimated that nearly 3000 people have
been killed in violence committed by both sides and more than half a million people have fled their homes.
At least 1000 people have been detained over the past two years.
Source: Nam News Network (NNN)