The Cameroonian army will implement “without qualms” the instructions of President Paul Biya to put “out of state of harm” the violent English-speaking separatists, assured Saturday the Minister of Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo.
“When the head of state makes a political decision like this (to eradicate the separatist fighters), we will implement it without any qualms,” said Beti Assomo in a statement on the radio. State.
“There are measures that will be implemented immediately and the process will continue until the uncomfortable situation we are experiencing is eradicated,” he promised, without specifying the nature of these measures.
“Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming a secessionist movement,” Thursday accused President Paul Biya , reacting to the assassination between Tuesday and Thursday in the south-west of four English military and two policemen . The government attributes the responsibility to the English-speaking separatists. Mr. Biya assured that “all steps are taken to disable these criminals”.
“Paul Biya has just declared war on these terrorists who advocate secession,” commented state radio.
At the request of the president, his defense minister on Friday gathered several senior military and military officials to assess the security situation in the country, and analyze the deterioration of the level of security in the English-speaking regions, according to the radio. .
The military actions advocated during this meeting are intended to “reassure the healthy part of the population that is caught in a vice,” said Beti Assomo, promising that “the integrity of the territory will be assured.”
“Massive operations of the army (in the English-speaking regions) are in preparation,” confirmed to AFP, without further details, a security source.
In a statement, attributed to the prefect of the department of Manyu (southwest, where the six military and police were killed), Joseph Oum Il, stated widely circulated since Friday night and controversial on the internet, local authorities have ordered the inhabitants of 15 villages to leave the premises immediately, as a prelude to military operations, on pain of being considered “accomplices or responsible for the crimes currently committed against the security forces”.
In an intervention broadcast Saturday noon on a local English radio, Radio Evangelium, the prefect Joseph Oum He finally announced to have “withdrawn” this release, now simply calling on local people to “cooperate”.
The governor of the Southwest Province (on which depends the department of Manyu), Bernard Okalia Bilai, for his part qualified the release of “false”. It is a “manipulation” aimed at “putting the population in panic and compromising the high security measures (prescribed by) the head of state,” he claimed.
Along the Nigerian border, local people are “hostages to these terrorists,” Okalia Bilai said. According to him, “young people” are enlisted by separatists and “trained as fighters in Nigeria” neighbor, against the advice of their parents.
Since November 2016, the English-speaking minority in Cameroon – about 20% of the 23 million inhabitants – is protesting against its marginalization, some demanding federalism, others secession. The Yaoundé regime rejects both options.
As the Cameroonian authorities have increased security pressure and the crackdown on separatist demonstrations, the ranks of secessionists have grown in recent months, as incidents have increased, causing observers and analysts to fear an “armed uprising” in the English-speaking West of the country, bordering Nigeria.