Last week, the body of a Tunisian engineer working for construction firm Soroubat was found near Kumba in Southwest Province after the military rescued a compatriot and two Cameroonian technicians kidnapped by separatists, the government believes.
If, as alleged, the militant Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF) was responsible, this latest incident will exacerbate fears of a political meltdown in a region already dotted with ghost towns — fields of ripe cocoa beans are left unattended while teachers and lawyers remain on strike.
Militants ambush police and attack army checkpoints while a military crackdown on dissent has allegedly resulted in many fatalities and scores detained without due process, prompting a civilian exodus.
Systematically denied economic opportunity, Anglophones have for decades been largely excluded from the political process, inspiring activists to demand their own state — Ambazonia — co-extensive with the former UK-administered United Nations Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons.
Public opinion is divided between those embracing the separatist movement and those who believe violence only undermines recent gains.
The token appointment of an English speaker as prime minister has been maintained, while President Paul Biya’s two more loyal Anglophones have ministerial roles.
However, Biya has not accepted demands to reinstate the Anglophone region’s original federal status.
Respected figures such as upstream consultant Simon Tamfu, a Northwesterner and ex-head of exploration at state oil company SNH, believe the struggle for autonomy has been hijacked by militants.
Results of last weekend’s senatorial elections will be known soon, but there is a real risk that October’s presidential polls will be derailed.
Culled from Upstream