Police in Cameroon have arrested 38 supporters of opposition leader Maurice Kamto at a rally protesting the result of last month’s presidential election, his party said Monday.
Official results of the October 7 ballot declared President Paul Biya, who has ruled the west African country since 1982, the winner with 71 percent of the vote.
Kamto was a distant second with 14 percent. But Kamto, candidate for the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), rejected the result, claiming widespread fraud.
One of seven candidates who had sought to unseat the 85-year-old Biya, Kamto has been declared an “outlaw” by the government.
A senior MRC official, Emmanuel Simh, said 38 people were arrested on Sunday during protests in the western town of Bafoussam.
Authorities and witnesses on Sunday had given a figure of 19 arrests. MRC members had announced they planned to stage a protest in Bafoussam against what they called the election “hold-up”.
“After having been repressed with rare violence during their peaceful march, they were subjected to even harsher arrests,” Kamto’s spokesman Olivier Nissack said on his Facebook page.
He vowed that “peaceful national resistance” will continue.
Late Saturday, a journalist from the daily Le Messager, Joseph Olinga, was arrested in Bafoussam, the director of the paper, Jean Francois Channon, said in a statement.
He was “abused, humiliated, dragged on the ground for several metres (yards), before being taken into a police van,” Channon said, condemning the “unwarranted violence”.
Kamto’s supporters plan several more demonstrations in Cameroon and overseas on Tuesday.
Voting in the presidential election was disrupted in Francophone Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions, where a separatist movement has sparked a brutal crackdown.
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