Cameroon unrest intensifies as civil liberties crackdown sparks protests

Cameroon unrest intensifies as civil liberties crackdown sparks protests

Anti-government protests are expected across Cameroon today, where protestors will call for the release of 150 jailed opposition supporters, including

cameroon protest against boko haram

Photo: Reuters

Anti-government protests are expected across Cameroon today, where protestors will call for the release of 150 jailed opposition supporters, including leader Maurice Kanto.

Mr Kanto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement claims to have defeated President Paul Biya in elections last October.

Cameroon’s government has banned protests until April 13, citing threats from Boko Haram along the northern border, violence along the border with the Central African Republic and a separatist movement occurring in English-speaking regions as reasons for the repressive measures. Although Cameroon is indeed facing serious security risks, the decision to ban opposition protests will likely exasperate these security risks and the opposition’s discontent.

Last week, the government increased the presence of security personnel nationwide. This has heightened the risk of confrontation with protestors, which could spark small to medium-scale violence. Demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of President Biya—and are threatening to remove him themselves if he does not willingly resign.

While Mr Biya is unlikely to resign, the government may provide some concessions to the protestors by way of prison releases, possibly including Mr Kanto. While this could potentially mollify protestors and motivate them to turn to political solutions, such concessions are unlikely to completely stifle opposition to the regime.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.