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Cameroon: social divisions and violence

A protest for the rights of Anglophones A protest for the rights of Anglophones ConstitutionNet

6 April 2020

Protest that ensued due to poor political and economic representation has escalated into a war

Cameroon is today in the midst of a war between government and rebels. As many as 22 villagers, including 14 children, were found dead in the anglophone area of the country according to the United Nations. An opposition party blames the killings on the army. Armed men carried out the massacre on Friday in the village of Ntumbo in the Northwest Region, James Nunan, a local official for the UN’s humanitarian coordination agency OCHA, told AFP news agency. Eleven of the children were girls, said Nunan, head of OCHA’s office for the Northwest and Southwest regions, a home to the West African country’s large English-speaking minority. 

This attack is just the latest in a deadly string of incidents that are part of the broader context of a war between government forces and rebels of the anglophone area, that is, the North and Southwest regions. This conflict has its deep roots in the post-colonial era. At the end of World War I, Germany handed over Cameroon to Great Britain and France. This war effectively started in 2016, with the peaceful protests of Anglophone lawyers and teachers that felt underrepresented, which were repressed in blood by the government. The request of greater autonomy for Western regions because of the poor political, economic and social representation of Anglophone people, quickly transformed in a pressing will for outright secession, met with enthusiasm by rebel bands and their leaders. This would lead to a severe crackdown on civilians and rebels, with the capture and torture of their leaders, which further fuelled the clash between the two factions. In 2017, Cameroon President Paul Biya labelled the Ambazonia Defence Forces (the armed component of the rebel movement that wants to secede in the new state of “Ambazonia”) and other rebel groups “terrorists” and declared war against them. The rebels, however, evolved and became stronger, better organized and well-equipped, even coordinating funds from abroad to the point of provoking 800 to 1,000 casualties in the military since the conflict began in 2016.

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Author: Pasquale Candela; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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