Cameroon secessionists target state broadcaster

Secessionists agitators in Cameroon have threatened to take over state radio and kidnap more government officials.

The manager of the state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) in the English speaking Southwest, Mr Kange William Wasaloko, said the secessionists had called to inform about their plans to abduct more government officials and take over the radio.

Mr Wasaloko said unidentified secessionists sent a frightful message saying they were coming to Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region, to kidnap the divisional officer and the governor and take over CRTV.

Seeking independence

“I therefore appeal to you to reinforce security at CRTV Southwest and put the whole city on the alert,” Mr Wasaloko urged the governor.

There has been a spate of attacks on government officials and buildings by Ambazonia separatist movement, a group seeking independence of English speakers from the predominantly Francophone country.

The group claimed responsibility for two government officials kidnapped in the restive English speaking Northwest last month. It has also claimed responsibility for several government buildings and timber trucks burnt in the Northwest and the Southwest.

This is not the first time separatists have tried to capture CRTV. Armed activists of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) took over the radio on the night of December 30-31, 1999 and held it for over three hours. They forced the radio staff to play a tape of proclamation of independence.

There were fears the same scenario may occur as Ambazonians have declared the town their headquarters.

The Cameroon linguistic divide dates back to 1961 when the British-administered Southern Cameroons (today’s Northwest and Southwest regions) united with French Cameroon after it gained independence from France in 1960. It was a federal state until 1972.

Several casualties

The ongoing turmoil in the two English-speaking regions has been on since October 2016 when lawyers' and teachers' strikes spiralled into a general outcry against marginalisation by the predominantly Francophone government with English speaking activists calling for a break-up and the creation of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

The symbolic declaration of independence of the imaginary state on October 1, 2017 led to several casualties and displacements.

The envisioned state is yet to be recognised by the African Union, the United Nations and other countries.

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