Cameroon’s anglophone protest francophone administration

At least two people have been
reported killed in the Cameroonian
city of Bamenda, capital of the
North West province, during a
confrontation between protesters
and security forces about two weeks ago.

The clashes broke out after protesters
set up barricades to prevent a rally by
president Paul Biya’s party from taking
place.

The North West and South West
provinces, Cameroon’s only English-
speaking areas, have been witnessing
protests in recent days with people
calling for an end to the use of French
and perceived disenfranchisement.

Some groups have been calling for a
return to a federal state system. Others
have called for the breakaway of the
North West and South West provinces
and the restoration of the so-called
“Southern Cameroons” or Ambazonia,
which was a British mandate during
colonisation.

On Monday, thousands of teachers and
lawyers in the English-speaking regions
went on strike, accusing the government of trying to marginalise them by imposing the French language on their schools and courts.

Some 5,000 people, according to the
police, demonstrated in Buéa, the
capital of the South-West, one of the two
English-speaking regions of Cameroon’s
22 million inhabitants, after the heeded
calls from the Social Democratic Front
(SDF), one of the main opposition
parties.

MPs and SDF activists expressed their
solidarity with Anglophone teachers and
lawyers who feel marginalized by the
Francophone majority.

They also denounced the injustices
suffered by lawyers, teachers and
English-speaking students since the
beginning of their sling at the end of
November.

Many of the protesters demanded a
return to federalism in Cameroon, as was
the case between 1961 and 1972.

Areas controlled by Britain and France
joined to form Cameroon after the
colonial powers withdrew in the 1960s.

Cameroon was initially a German colony,
before it was split into two by the
League of Nations after the First World
War (1914-18): one part was under
French tutelage and another part, close
to Nigeria, under the British mandate.

In 1960, French Cameroon gained
independence. A year later, a portion of
the Anglophones decided through a
referendum to join Cameroon. As a
result, the country now has 10 semi-
autonomous administrative regions:
eight are Francophone, while the North
and Southwest regions are home to
approximately five million English
speakers.

Federalism was then established in the
country between 1961 and 1972, but
the first president Ahmadou Ahidjo
proclaimed the United Republic in 1972.

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