Simon Ekuh: Cameroon Mayor Explains Why he was Abducted

The mayor of Bangem in the Southwest Region, Simon Ekuh, said he was kidnapped together with his deputy for mobilising local residents to celebrate the National Day.

A Cameroonian mayor who was kidnapped on the 46th National Day on Sunday, has appeared on a video explaining the reason for his abduction.

Bangem is the capital of Kupe Muanenguba Division and also considered as the heartland of the Bakossi community.

The celebrations under the theme: Cameroonian citizens, let us remain united in diversity, were bloody in several towns of the English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions. The two regions have been gripped by an escalating separatist violence for nearly two years now.

In Belo and Batibo in the Northwest, the day was marred with heavy gunfire exchange between government troops and armed separatists, with casualties on both sides, according to local media reports.
Cameroon Mayor Explains Abduction 

In Ekona, an agricultural research town in the Southwest, suspected armed separatists killed a police officer while in the nearby town of Tombel, a gun battle between government forces and separatists lasted over six hours. Casualty figures were not yet available at the time of filing this report.

The 85-year-old President Paul Biya presided over the celebrations in the capital Yaoundé, calling on Cameroonians to remain united. President Biya has maintained a firm grip on Cameroon since 1982 when he replaced Ahmadou Ahidjo.

The National Day commemorates a referendum organised in 1972 by President Ahidjo to change the then two state Federal Republic, made of the English speaking Southern Cameroons and the French speaking La Republique du Cameroun, into the United Republic of Cameroon.

Twelve years later, President Biya renamed the country as the Republic of Cameroon (French: La Republique du Cameroun); the original name of the French speaking state; an act critics described as a breakaway from the union.

Separatist activists had called on the English speakers to boycott the National Day, which according to them, denotes the enslavement of the people of two formerly British-administered regions by the predominantly French speaking Republic of Cameroon.

President Biya’s government called on all citizens to come out and celebrate the date as a sign of unity. The separatists’ call for boycott was heeded in some towns.

World leaders, including Donald Trump of the US, Emmanuel Macron of France, Xi Jinping of China and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, congratulated President Biya and the people of Cameroon as they celebrated the day.

“…I equally wish to express France’s solidarity as Cameroon is faced with crimes especially state representatives who undergo unrest in the Anglophone regions. I sincerely wish that these insurgencies be resolved peacefully and firmly in the strict respect of the country’s unity and integrity,” Mr Macron wrote in a telegraph to President Biya.

The violence in the two English-speaking regions started in October 2016 when a lawyers’ and teachers’ strike snowballed into a general outcry against marginalisation by the predominantly Francophone government.

The crisis has since deepened, with some 47 activists including Julius Ayuk Tabe; the self-declared president of the separatist group, being arrested in Nigeria and deported to Cameroon last January.

Several countries and groups have prescribed dialogue as a way out of the crisis, but the path has yet to be seriously pursued. According to the UN, some 160,000 English speakers in Cameroon have fled their homes into the bushes because of the violence.

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