On Friday a military court in Cameroon found seven activists guilty of “acts of terrorism, hospitality against the homeland, secession, revolution and insurrection” and could be jailed for 15 years. This follows the governments attempt to repress “a budding Anglophone secessionist movement” which is lead primarily by the North West and South West regions, reports Reuters.
Reuters and Al Jazeera reports that tensions arose in 2016 when a peaceful protest transformed into an armed conflict that was subsequently followed by a violent crackdown by government forces in 2017. As a consequence tens of thousands have fled Cameroon to the neighbour country Nigeria and the US ambassador has accused the Yaounde government of “targeted killings, arson and looting”. The government has subsequently refuted all allegations and demanded the US ambassador take back his earlier remarks.
Of the seven charged, Al Jazeera reports that one has since been acquitted whilst the other six charged were ordered to pay a joint fine of 268 million CFA francs ($48,000) and must also pay the legal fees. Five other Anglophones on trial alongside the journalist received jail terms ranging from 10 to 15 years. Claude Assira, a lawyer representing one of the accused had told Reuters that these convictions “would only worsen the Anglophone crisis”.
Reuters further notes that these protests have “destabilised the Central African oil producer months before an election in which Biya will seek to extend his 35-year rule”.