October 1: Biya deploys army to Southern Cameroons
Cameroonian President Paul Biya has dispatched the military to Southern Cameroons ahead of independence day on October 1 to face off the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Governing Council. The military deployment was officially announced by the Francophone Governor of the Buea Province, Bernard Okalia Bilai on Thursday after restricting movement of people and vehicles, closing all public places and banning meetings.
“Following repeated threats propagated by the Southern Cameroons Governing Council through the social media, their Southern Cameroon Broadcasting Corporation and tracts to mislead public opinion and destabilize our country;
“The Head of State has ordered and mobilized the Army to protect the territorial integrity of the Nation as well as guarantee the security of all law-abiding persons and their property in conformity with the provisions of our Constitution,” he said in a statement.
The Head of State has ordered and mobilized the Army to protect the territorial integrity of the Nation as well as guarantee the security of all law-abiding persons and their property. He called on the people to ignore calls for demonstrations “as they will meet the firm reaction of the armed forces”.
The governor also called on parents to keep their children at home. The tension is in anticipation of another massive demonstration following last week’s peaceful protests in several towns of the two regions calling for the release of arrested inhabitants and independence from the French Cameroon.
On October 1 each year, Cameroon celebrates its independence from France while the former British Southern Cameroons representing the two Anglophone regions mark their unity with French Cameroun to form the federal republic. This year, the secessionist groups in the regions are calling for a massive mobilization to demand their independence.
Late last year, series of protests were held against marginalization in the Anglophone regions and several people were killed, many injured and hundreds arrested by security forces. Rights groups have raised concerns about increasing repression under the 35-year-old rule of President Biya.
In August, the president signed a decree releasing Anglophone leaders detained for months over last year’s protests. Several others are still behind bars including journalists who are facing terrorism charges.