Militants opposed to elections and demanding independence of English-speaking regions from Cameroon have allegedly kidnapped over 100 people during violent parliamentary polls.
State security forces are accused of failing to protect civilians from the separatists but rather allegedly committed further abuses against citizens during the same period.
Property has been burnt and voters threatened in the days leading to elections held this past weekend but whose results have not been officially announced.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has appealed to the separatists to release civilians and for the security forces to halt the abuse of citizens.
“Separatist leaders should issue clear instructions to their fighters to end their crimes against civilians,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at HRW.
“The government of Cameroon should ensure that its security forces put civilians first, by stopping their violations, prioritizing civilian protection, and holding abusers accountable.”
The North-West region is worst affected by election tensions.
Armed separatists targeted those willing to participate in the legislative and municipal polls, whether as candidates, election officials, activists or citizens.
The targets included members and supporters of the Social Democratic Front party, which the separatists accuse of failing to show solidarity with their cause.
Separatists burned at least three offices of Elections Cameroon, the national election body.
They have also burned down a post office where electoral material was stored and at least seven homes belonging to government officials and candidates in various localities.
Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are demanding self-rule claiming neglect by the government of incumbent Paul Biya, dominated by French speakers.
Over 3 000 people have been killed in the violence over the past three years. Human rights abuses by armed separatists and government forces have been rife.
Source: CAJ News