In Cameroon, President Biya appointed a new Government on 4 January, which included 11 women. More than half of the country’s 60 ministers were replaced. As legislative and municipal elections remained postponed by presidential decree, supporters of the main opposition parties called for a revision of the electoral law. Meanwhile, on 5 April, Parliament enacted a law on decentralization to determine the number of regional councillors. On 26 January, protests erupted in major cities throughout the country, eliciting a violent response by internal security forces and triggering mass arrests. Those arrested included several Members of Parliament from the Social Democratic Front and the leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, Maurice Kamto, together with 200 of Mr. Kamto’s supporters, who are currently standing trial before a military tribunal on charges that include rebellion, insurrection and public disturbance. Some of those charges carried the death penalty. In an interview broadcast on 19 March, the spokesperson for President Biya announced that the President would reject dialogue with Mr. Kamto, who had requested a face-to-face discussion.
The security situation in the North-West and South-West Regions of Cameroon remained of serious concern, with a new wave of kidnappings and killings in early 2019. On 24 January, the leader of the separatist group, Southern Cameroons Defence Forces, was reportedly killed by the national armed forces. In February, nearly 70 people were killed during a separatist-imposed 10-day lockdown to disrupt National Youth Day activities in the two regions. On 11 February, an arson attack on the Kumba District Hospital in the South-West Region resulted in at least four patients killed and several others injured. On 19 March, the former Secretary of State in charge of secondary education was kidnapped from his residence in Bamenda by suspected secessionist fighters. On 20 March, 16 students were abducted from the University of Buea by unidentified gunmen. The Government accused the secessionists of the abductions. The authorities announced their intention to carry out investigations into alleged human rights violations by security forces in the affected regions, but no outcome was made public.
Culled from Reliefweb