Anglophone Cameroonians plan to demonstrate today Oct. 1st, the day of their independence from Britain, over what it say is ill-treatment and neglect by the predominantly Francophone government of President Paul Biya.
The protests have become a lightening rod for opposition to Biya’s 35-year rule.
The planned protest follows the three-day ban by the authorities of all gatherings of more than four persons, the shut down of bus stations, eateries and shops and the ban on the movement of people between divisions of its English-speaking region.
The draconian measures were taken to prevent the planned protests, which appear unstoppable.
Authorities also announced temporary restrictions on travel into Nigeria in the wake of violent protests, sparked by ongoing complaints of economic and political discrimination and demands for more Anglophone rights in the predominately Francophone country.
The last time there were big protests in the western region, the government responded by unplugging the internet, shooting dead six protesters and arrested hundreds of others, some of whom were charged with crimes that carry the death penalty.
“Public gatherings and assembly of more than four persons shall be strictly forbidden. All off licenses, snack bars and night clubs shall not operate. Motor parks shall remain closed,” said the order signed by Adolphe Lele Lafrique, governor of the northwest region.
“Any persons who attempt to violate this order shall be prosecuted,” it added.
The draconian measures are likely to provoke further anger driving a movement that is fast morphing from a bid for equal rights into a full-fledged struggle for independence.
Cameroon’s divide has its roots in the end of World War One, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and British victors.
Thousands of Anglophone demonstrators took to the streets last Friday, some of them hoisting separatist flags.
The government ordered its border with Nigeria closed this weekend. The Anglophone regions have strong ties to eastern Nigeria and authorities may fear that allowing the border to remain open during protests offers the demonstrators a rear base and makes it harder to maintain order.
According to DW, At the border locality of Ekok, at least 700 people are ignoring calls for peace by political leaders and civil society groups, and continue to hold demonstrations and attack government buildings while proudly hoisting what they call the flag of their new independent state, Ambazonia.
27-year-old Tambe Elias, who claims to be the head of the group, says they no longer recognize President Paul Biya as their leader.
“He is nobody and he will never mean anything to the Ambazonians. This is the border between southern Cameroon and Nigeria, at the frontier Ekok. You can see the flags, this is the border. Now they have closed the border, they don’t want us to cross to Nigeria, but we are already there. Biya must go.”