Calls for Release of Separatists, Political Prisoners Intensify in Cameroon

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON – Consultations have begun in Cameroon ahead of a national dialogue ordered by president Paul Biya. Civil society groups and opposition political parties are calling for the unconditional release of Anglophone separatist leaders and other political prisoners before discussions begin.

Opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who came in second in the October presidential election, but claims to have won, is on trial with dozens of others in a military tribunal on insurrection charges.

Biya has insisted that he will maintain Cameroon as one nation and indivisible. Justin Roger Ndah, assistant secretary-general of the opposition MRC party says they are urging the government to accept discussions on the form of the state.

He says Paul Biya should not think that speaking about the form of the state during the expected national dialogue is a taboo subject and an indication of his weakness. He says it is fundamental for all issues disturbing Cameroon to be brought to the discussion table and required constitutional amendments be made when the time comes.

Siddi Haman, a senior official of Biya’s CPDM party says people should see in the expected dialogue the president’s true will to bring peace to the country.

He says all Cameroonians should have confidence in Biya, who, as the father of the nation, has called for the dialogue. He says after the dialogue the president can use his constitutional power to grant the desires of the people, as the most important thing he is asking for before he leaves power is to maintain Cameroon as a peaceful, one and indivisible state with every one living in harmony.

The conflict in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions has killed more than 2,000 people, internally displaced more than 500,000 and caused more than 50,000 Cameroonians to seek refuge in Nigeria, according to the United Nations.

Source: Voice of America