Cameroon authorities must end the use of force against the political opposition, say Members of the European Parliament in a resolution adopted on April 17 in Strasbourg plenary.
As this year, Cameroon’s security forces violently supressed opposition protests and arrested around 200 opposition supporters, including political leader Maurice Kamto,
MEPs condemn the use of such force, call for an independent and transparent investigation into the conduct of the police and security forces against protesters and the immediate release of all detainees held on politically motivated charges. They also want the country’s government to confirm that it will not seek the death penalty for political activists and protesters, while recalling that such punishment has not been used in Cameroon since 1997.
Parliament also urges the government in Cameroon to initiate a consensual review of the country’s electoral system, with the aim of ensuring a free, transparent and credible electoral process. Cameroon’s current President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982, which makes him one of the longest ruling presidents in the world. Since the last presidential elections in 2018 were marked by suspicions of fraud and the reporting of irregularities, MEPs insist that a review of the electoral system takes place before any further elections are held, in order to promote peace and avoid post-electoral crisis
“The principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying,” said Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon who negotiated to free 78 children, adding that one child had escaped independently.
The freed children were unharmed although their clothes were dirty and they appeared exhausted,
Cameroon Army spokesperson Didier Badjeck said the kidnappers released the children after the military found out their location. Two other children were still missing, along with the principal and teacher, he confirmed.
The number of Cameroonian refugees fleeing violence and seeking refuge in Nigeria crossed the 30,000 mark this week, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report. Refugees fleeing the South-West and North-West Regions of Cameroon have been arriving since September 2017. Almost 600 arrived in refugee settlements in the last two weeks.
“Following the announcement of the results of the presidential election in Cameroon by the Constitutional Council, the European Union expects the President-elect to bring together all stakeholders to overcome the challenges facing the country, to the benefit of all Cameroonians” says the European External Actions Service statement on the presidential elections in Cameroon.
“While elections were generally held in a peaceful manner, some parts of the population were unable to take part in the vote. The EU reiterates its concern about the situation in the North-West and South-West regions of the country. It is crucial that the authorities are open to the proposals of civil society and religious authorities for a peaceful and lasting resolution of the crisis, and that a process of dialogue be launched as soon as possible with all actors in favour of peace.”
“The preliminary statement of the African Union Election Observation Mission recommends strengthening the legal and institutional framework for elections in Cameroon, which could increase voter confidence in the electoral process and make it more inclusive. Such reforms are crucial and the EU stands ready to accompany such a process. The EU takes note that all appeals lodged by the opposition candidates have been rejected”.
“The European Union, as a major partner of Cameroon, will continue to work for the development and stability of the country for the benefit of all Cameroonians.”
Cameroon’s Constitutional Council rejected the last of 18 petitions demanding for a re-run of an October 7 election that the opposition said was marred by fraud, leading to the expected result to extend President Paul Biya (85) uninterrupted rule to four decades.
President Biya is currently the longest ruling elected leader of Africa, and the oldest ruler in Sub-Saharan Africa, ascending power 36 years ago.
Under Biya rule Cameroon became an absolute ‘champion’ of Human rights violations:
Already this year hundreds of civilians have been killed in a violent conflict between the Cameroonian military and in separatists. Ongoing clashes between insurgents fighting for a breakaway republic in Cameroon’s English-speaking region and troops took away lives of many, but also caused a displacement tens of thousands more since the conflict intensified late last year. In return for military violence insurgents have abducted and killed soldiers and policemen in guerrilla raids.
Attack attributed to Boko Haram jihadists in the Lake Chad region left behind 18 people dead, a Chadian military source said on Sunday.
“Boko Haram elements attacked a village south of Daboua,” not far from Chad’s border with Niger, at around 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) on July 19, the military source said. The assailants “cut the throats of 18 people, wounded two others and kidnapped 10 women”.
Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has devastated the region since it took up arms in 2009 in Nigeria, leaving more than 20,000 people dead, forced to displace more than two million others and triggered a humanitarian crisis.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have all joined the military effort by Nigeria to crush Boko Haram. Chad has seen a recent increase in activity by the group.
“Further violence in the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon has killed at least three members of the security forces and several civilians. Such acts can not be accepted and can not go unpunished, as well as any excess of violence against civilians. The perpetrators must sue in court, in accordance with the law” – says the statement of the European Actions Service:
“The use of violence can not achieve political goals. It remains essential for the security forces to make a proportionate use of force in the exercise of their functions.The European Union calls for avoiding any act that can stir up tensions or incite violence between Cameroonians. It remains convinced that only a sincere and constructive dialogue, following democratic and constitutional means, can lead to a lasting exit from the crisis while preserving unity and peace for all Cameroonians.”
Tensions in North-Western and South-Western Cameroon have risen over recent weeks, with a risk of further escalation.
“All the stakeholders need to act responsibly and with restraint, abiding by the rule of law, and to abstain from any acts of violence” – says a statement of the spokesperson of the EU External Action Service on the situation in Western Cameroon.
The EU encourages the Cameroonian authorities to pursue their efforts to bring about sustainable solutions in response to the concerns of the Anglophone citizens.
Only an open and inclusive dialogue can lead to a solution which is in the interest of all Cameroonians while respecting the unity and integrity of the country.