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How Violence marred Presidential election in Anglophone Regions

While voting for the next President of Cameroon was on-going in a serene and peaceful atmosphere in the eight Francophone Regions of Cameroon, there was an outburst of violence in the Anglophone Regions of the country, making it impossible for the people to perform their civic responsibility.

In the North West Regional capital of Bamenda where Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, and other top Government officials of the Region voted, there was tight security to avert confrontations between the military and suspected members of the Ambazonia Defence Forces.

BIR on the street of Buea

The Chairman of the SDF, John Fru Ndi, blamed the incumbent Paul Biya for organising elections without solving the Anglophone Crisis.

A member of the Central Africa Network of Human Rights (REDHAC) who was monitoring the elections in Bamenda said at least four security officers were killed, while other sources say, three gunmen were also killed in the confrontations.

A source at the Amnesty International, West Africa bureau said, Bamenda was embedded in clashes and ambulances could be seen picking up the wounded around the Azam hotel area. On Monday morning, around the Hospital Roundabout where some clashes took place, unidentified bodies were still littering the streets.

The Bayelle Polling Centre was moved to an unknown destination when fighting started.

Over in Babessi, Ambazonia fighters took control of the ELECAM office burning all voting materials. Violence was equally recorded in Bafut and other areas.

Violence was also recorded in Buea with the Divisional Officer, Paul Wokam Kouam wounded in one of the incursions.

The van of state newspaper, Cameroon Tribune was also attacked, wounding the driver. In Kumba, the economic cesspit of the Region, gun men set the court premises ablaze and during the day gun shorts were also heard. It is not clear what actually happened. It was also a violent situation in Mamfe and in Muyuka, few minutes’ drive from Buea, Ambazonia gun men blocked the main roads and declared themselves in control of the town.

Talking to most residence in these areas, they said they were all in their houses since it was a ghost town day. Some of them who even had voters’ card were too scared to step out since the towns and villages were heavily ghosted with no sign of life. In some places like Fontem, the military transported polling materials but there were no human beings to fill the boxes with ballots.

According to an official at UNIVERS party of Cabral Libii, ELECAM officials told them that polling had been organized in three major centres in Anglophone regions, namely; Bamenda, Buea and Limbe and the official wondered how three towns would reflect the suffrage of two big regions. Ambazonia fighters had earlier on warned the population to boycott the election and stay indoors.

In the meantime, government has given its own version of the picture and according to Territorial Administration Minister, Atanga Nji Paul, voting effectively took place in the North West and South West regions under tight security.

As Cameroonians await the results to be published by the constitutional council in under 15 days, it is still unclear what impact will the heavy abstention witnessed in the Anglophone regions have on the general conduct and outcome of the process; whether the constitutional council would validate the results, knowing fully well that the conditions in the two restive regions were not met for a free, fair and transparent elections to take place. Moreover, with over 411,000 persons from these two regions displaced and unable to be part of the process, the next president of Cameroon may uniquely be the choice of the Francophone majority which according to Peace and conflict expert, Dr Williams Herman Arrey would be another form of marginalization on its own, thereby worsening the already precarious situation.

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