Cameroon declares curfew in troubled Anglophone city

A demonstration in Bamenda in Northwest Cameroon on September 22, 2017. AFP
A demonstration in Bamenda in Northwest Cameroon on September 22, 2017 against the alleged marginalisation of the English speaking parts of the country. PHOTO | AFP  

Cameroon has imposed a curfew in the Anglophone region’s main city of Bamenda that is rocked by unrest as English speakers seek to secede.

In the measure, the government has also ordered that all businesses and public places remain closed between 10pm and 5am from November 8 to 23.

Only vehicles used by government, police, army and emergency services will be allowed to operate.

A local administration officer, Songa Pierre Rene, said “any person or group of persons who violate the order shall be punished in accordance with rules and regulations in force.”

The curfew was imposed a day after the government blamed “secessionist terrorists” of killing two gendarmes in Bamenda on Tuesday with another one having been killed in nearby Jakiri town a day earlier.

Bamenda, the main city of the English-speaking Northwest region, remains tense as residents push for secession over alleged marginalisation by the Francophone government.

The Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said the gendarmes were “cold-bloodedly assassinated by terrorists with weapons of war.”

The latest clashes mark an escalation of the crisis that started last year with a lawyers' and teachers' work boycott.

The minority English speakers say they suffer economic inequality and discrimination at the hands of the Francophone majority, particularly in education and justice despite a post-independence reunification deal, where they expected to be equal partners.

The crisis reached a new low last month, when over 20 people were shot dead by security forces, tens of others were injured and over 500 more detained, according to Amnesty International.

The protesters had gathered in towns across the country’s two English-speaking regions to push for the creation of the state of Ambazonia.

The government puts the number of the dead at between 10 and 12.

At least 5,000 Anglophone Cameroonians have fled the crisis for neighbouring Nigeria, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

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