A Cameroonian military tribunal has jailed the head of the main opposition party’s women’s wing for six months for “plotting revolution”, according to an order seen by AFP on Tuesday.
Fri Awasum Mispa of Maurice Kamto’s Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) was arrested Saturday in the capital Yaounde along with around 20 other women who took part in a march calling for the release from house arrest of opposition leader Kamto.
MRC officers and activists are frequent targets of the government of President Paul Biya, who has ruled the central African country with an iron fist for 38 years.
Many have been jailed for long periods without due process since Kamto contested Biya’s re-election in a 2018 vote.
Kamto, who was runner-up in the vote, himself spent nine months behind bars last year without having been tried after peacefully demonstrating against Biya’s re-election.
He was released after intense international pressure, but is now under house arrest, with police surrounding his home for the past two months.
Kamto has not been informed of any charges against him after he called for peaceful demonstrations for the departure of 87-year-old Biya.
The military tribunal on Monday convicted Awasum Mispa, who is training to practise law, of being an accomplice to “plotting revolution and rebellion” and placed in “provisional custody for six months renewable” according to the court order.
The other women who took part in Saturday’s march were held for several hours before being released.
On Monday, a court in the country’s economic capital Douala gave six month suspended sentences to two lawyers including Richard Tamfu, an MRC officer, for contempt of court.
Kamto had said in a statement Sunday: “The dictatorial Yaounde regime has decided to decapitate the MRC and destroy its capacity to carry out its political activities in order to silence it.”
Aside from the tug-of-war between Biya and the opposition, Cameroon has been in the throes of a bloody separatist conflict in the country’s mainly anglophone western regions for the past four years.
International humanitarian groups and the UN have accused both sides of committing atrocities against civilians.