US and UK call for restraint in Cameroon

Anglophone Cameroonians demonstrating against alleged marginalisation by the Yaoundé government in Belo in the Northwest on October 1. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The UK and the US governments have called for restraint by all the parties to the Cameroonian Anglophone crisis.

UK minister for Africa Rory Stewart said in a statement that London was “deeply concerned” with the deaths and injuries in the Northwest and Southwest Cameroon.

“We urge all sides to create conditions to restore confidence, avoid provocative rhetoric and acts, and to ensure any action by security forces is proportionate, fully respecting human rights, and in the best interests of protecting people and property,” Mr Stewart’s statement said.

The spokesperson for the US Department of State, Ms Heather Nauert, in another statement, urged restraint from both parties involved in the crisis.

“The Cameroonian government’s use of force to restrict free expression and peaceful assembly, and violence by protestors, are unacceptable. We urge the Government of Cameroon to respect human rights and freedom of expression, including access to the internet. We call on all sides to exercise restraint from further violence, and engage in dialogue for a peaceful, durable resolution,” the statement said.

The Anglophone Cameroon regions have been restive for several months over claims of marginalisation by the predominantly Francophone Yaoundé government.

The regions on October 1 claimed independence, prompting a violent crackdown by the government.

Yaoundé had deployed armed troops to the English speaking regions to suppress protests ahead of the October 1 secession.

At least 17 people were shot dead by security forces and 50 others wounded when forces opened fire on protesters, according to Amnesty International.

President Paul Biya, 84, who has been in power since 1982, has remained in an undisclosed location since taking part in the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York last month.

Observers have decried President Biya’s absence from the country at a time citizens were being killed.

The Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Cameroonian-born Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, said the president had lost legitimacy in the hearts of many Cameroonians.

"Over a hundred peaceful demonstrators and unarmed citizens gunned down in cold blood, many more wounded and under arrests, and millions now living in fear of harassment and mistreatment—the country is falling apart before our very eyes, and the

President sits relaxing in Geneva, Switzerland? Unbelievable! He has lost all legitimacy in the hearts and minds of millions of fellow Cameroonians," said Dr Fomunyoh.

The African Union (AU), in a statement on October 4, said it was deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

“The Chairperson (of the African Union) expresses condolences to all affected persons and families and calls on all stakeholders to exercise restraint in their pronouncements and to refrain from further acts of violence,” the AU Commission chairman, Dr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement.

He also reiterated the AU's commitment to support the government and people of Cameroon towards a peaceful settlement of the crisis “through inclusive and meaningful dialogue and national reconciliation”.

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