Biya regime says Amba attacks intensify to disrupt March 12 Senate Elections
Cameroon’s military says separatists in its North-West region have blocked roads and attacked military vehicles to disrupt Sunday’s Senate elections. Witnesses say several bodies were seen around the destroyed vehicles. The military has not confirmed any casualties and vowed to protect voting, despite the rebel blockade.
Cameroonian government troops exchange fire with separatist fighters in Tadu, a village in the central African state’s North-West region.
In the audio, extracted from a video shared on social media, a man identifying himself as separatist general Viper says fighters will chase out or kill government troops deployed to protect voters in Cameroon’s March 12 senatorial election.
Cameron’s Senate, the upper house of Parliament, has 100 seats. The election will be held for 70 seats. The other 30 will be appointed by President Paul Biya.
The military confirms that the video was taken in Tadu on Thursday. The military says besides Tadu village, government troops have fought gun battles with separatist fighters in several dozen locations, including Bamenda, Ndop, Wum, Jakiri, Oku, Bambili and Sabga in the North-West region and Manfe, Menji and Tiko in the South-West region.
The government says several military vehicles have been destroyed by improvised bombs planted by separatists in the Northwest.
Army captain and military spokesman Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo refused to comment on the number of troops killed but said about two dozen fighters have died in two weeks.
Civilians say bodies were seen around destroyed military vehicles.
Vanigansen Mochiggle is an opposition Social Democratic Front, or SDF, candidate. He says battles between Cameroon government troops and separatists are making it impossible for Senate candidates to campaign.
“The prevailing situation in the region is not propitious for an election. The conflict exacerbated,” said Vanigansen. “The separatists are all over the place. It is even very difficult for the candidates to move to their various divisional headquarters, so we have that challenge.”
A statement from the Roman Catholic Church in Kumbo and Ndop says transport buses and private vehicles are grounded and there has been no movement of people or goods in the past three days.
The government says civilians who disrespect separatist orders and move out of their homes are being abducted and tortured.
The SDF says candidates must send campaign messages through radio and TV, telephone calls and social media platforms, including WhatsApp and Facebook.
The SDF accuses Cameroon’s government of ordering the military to protect only candidates with the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement, which the government denies.
Deben Tchoffo is the governor of the Northwest region.
Tchoffo says Biya has given instructions to the military to protect all civilians and make sure the March 12 senatorial elections are hitch-free. He says separatists who are attacking government troops and civilians to disrupt the elections will be killed if they do not surrender.
Tchoffo said despite the separatist threats Cameroon will prove to the world that it is a democratic state by organizing free, fair and transparent senatorial elections.
Separatists who have vowed to disrupt the elections in English-speaking western regions launched their rebellion in 2017 after what they said was years of discrimination by the country’s French-speaking majority.
The conflict has killed more than 3,500 people and displaced more than half a million, according to the United Nations.