Parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for next month have escalated the crisis in English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
Separatists are running serious battles with security forces. Violence has characterised the run up to the polls scheduled for February 9.
Tensions started last month (December 2019) after separatists attempted to shoot down a commercial plane landing in the Northwest and the subsequent abduction of about 40 candidates of the parliamentary and municipal elections in the West.
Communities in the regions are opposed to the elections. To reiterate their stance, the Ambazonian separatist group recently burned down the Elections Cameroon office in Misaje in the Northwest region.
The nongovernmental Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) said the decision not to participate in the elections and subsequent attacks had heightened tensions in the Northwest and Southwest regions, increasing protection and displacement risks for people living in these regions.
The government has in response instituted a six-day lockdown beginning on February 6. This will include a 24-hour restriction on movement, closure of schools, markets, and businesses.
ACAPS bemoaned the lockdown has led to residents of the area stocking up on food, water and medical supplies.
Government has deployed 700 officers to affected regions to ensure security before, during, and after the elections.
“Troops presence is likely to agitate separatists who do not want the elections to take place,” ACAPS warned.
Hundreds of people have been killed during clashes featuring security forces and separatists in the said regions.
Separatists in the English-speaking region are demanding the creation of a new country – the proposed Ambazonia – alleging marginalisation by the government dominated by French speakers.
Source: CAJ News