Cameroon holds its breath as opposition party stages protest to unseat 87-year old President Paul Biya

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Major cities in Cameroon like Yaounde, Douala and Bafoussam have been heavily militarized with armored cars and mixed patrol officers stationed at several junctions. They are out on strict instructions from the Government to squash the planned demonstration by the Cameroon Renaissance Movement led by Prof Maurice Kamto.

Maurice Kamto
Maurice Kamto

Kamto who came second during the 2018 Presidential election has denounced the holding of the December 6 Regional Elections convened by long serving President Paul Biya. He believes that, it is unwise to hold elections when the separatist crisis in the English speaking regions of the country has not been solved and reforms made on the electoral code.

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After announcing his move to boycott the polls, Kamto has threatened to lead street protests in order to unseat President Paul Biya “if he goes ahead to organize regional elections within the present context.” 

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Government reaction:

Though the CRM leader insist that the September 22 protest is peaceful, Cameroon’s Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi believes that, the call by Prof Maurice Kamto constitute  an “act of insurrection.”

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Addressing pressmen in Yaounde Monday September 21, 2020, the Government spokesman says, “This is why the Government, through my voice, strongly deplores and unreservedly condemns these recurring maneuvers of provocation and destabilization, including the planned and illegal march of tomorrow, hatched by politicians who have never ceased to work for development of a culture of hatred and permanent conflict, endangering order and peace, by persisting in absurd demands and unjustified and counterproductive intransigence; ignoring the challenges of the hour that our fellow citizens are facing, whether it is the coronavirus pandemic, the threat of Boko Haram which continues or the start of the new school year.”

Paul Biya
Paul Biya

“The Government, through my voice, urges Cameroonians of the interior as well as of the diaspora, to remain deaf to calls for insurrection, thoughtless and senseless, to thwart, as usual, the destabilizing maneuvers of wherever they come and to continue to go about their business serenely.” Sadi recommended.

Before the communication Minister, the Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji said that the Regional election will enjoy the full support of the Ministry of Territorial Administration. He warned that, those advocating for election boycott not to disrupt the polls or they will face the law.

“It has come to my knowledge that, some political parties have made irresponsible declarations by putting up preconditions for the holding of the election….I want to make it clear that no disorder shall be tolerated from any political party or nay political actor.” Atanga Nji warned. The interior boss added that, “in case of any public disorder administrative authorities have been instructed to take measures to preserve law and order.”

Yaoundé
Capital of Cameroon Yaoundé

Governors of the Centre, Littoral, West regions  have signed orders prohibiting the holding of demonstrations in their administrative areas till further notice.

Public Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie has raised fears over the September 22 protest arguing that, such open gatherings can increase the spread of the coronavirus. In statement he has advised the population to stay clear from the protest.

CRM, Rights groups condemn Government action

In two separate tweets, Maurice Kamto has condemned the militarization of streets and deployment of security forces in major cities in the country.

 “Freedom of communication, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of association and the right to strike are guaranteed under the conditions established by law.” Constitution of Cameroon Mr. Kamto wrote in the first post.

In the second tweet, the lawyer reiterated the peaceful nature of the movement he is launching. “The Peaceful Walkers are patriotic, republican citizens who reject all violence before, during and after their marches.”

Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an International Law firm that has been retained by Maurice Kamto to defend potential victims of the protest has also warned the Biya regime that it would legal action should the Government violate the rights to peaceful expression. In a letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress, Robert R. Amsterdam CEO of the Law firm says, “We also notify you of our intent to hold accountable all responsible officials of the Republic of Cameroon for any violation of human rights, civil rights and physical safety of Prof Maurice Kamto, members of the CRM and all those who participate in peaceful process and opposition activities on September 22, 2020.”

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