Southern Cameroon Crisis: Six CPDM members kidnapped
Six members of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party have been kidnapped a day after they took part in activities marking the 51st National Day in the restive Anglophone region of the country, a member of parliament has confirmed.
Stephen Ujambeng- a local CPDM party official and Member of the North West Regional Assembly and five others including two secondary school principals were returning from the locality after taking part in National Day activities when armed men kidnapped them, Hon Philip Awuta a Member of Parliament for the area said.
“They (the kidnappers) are asking for FCFA 50 million (over $82,000) ransom only for Stephen Ujambeng and have given a three-day deadline for the money to be paid,” Hon Awuta said.
“They have not said anything yet about the five others”, he explained.
Among those kidnapped, the Member of Parliament said are a local official of the youth wing of the ruling party, two secondary school principals and two other civil servants who were returning together with Mr Ujambeng.
The North West is one of two English-speaking regions of Cameroon where gunmen pushing for the separation of English speakers from the majority French-speaking country have been battling government troops since 2017.
The separatists say they want to form an independent country called Ambazonia – made up of the two English-speaking regions.
Cameroon celebrated its 51st National Day on Saturday May 20 amidst growing tension in English speaking regions where a separatist conflict has killed over 6,000 people since 2017.
May 20 or National [Unity] day commemorates a referendum organised in 1972 by then president Ahmadou Ahidjo to change the then two state Federal Republic into one country that was baptised the United Republic of Cameroon. It was rechristened the country as Republic of Cameroon 12 years later.
The separatists had called on people in the Anglophone regions to boycott the National Day which according to them has no significance and denotes the enslavement of the people of two formerly British-administered regions to the predominantly French speaking Republic of Cameroon.
But president Biya’s government called on all citizens to come out massively and celebrate the date as a sign of unity.
Fighting between government troops and militia groups in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon has claimed over 6,000 lives since 2017 and uprooted 800,000 others from their homes – 60 percent of them being women and children who now face differentiated risks, including gender-based violence and child trafficking, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).