Cameroon. The contradictions between the regime, with a
base of power in the French-speaking part of the country,
and the English-speaking minority were sharpened during the
year. At the end of 2016, unrest erupted in the Northwest
and Southwest regions, where the predominantly
English-speaking population feels discriminated against. One
example is President Paul Biya's decision that the mayors of
the larger cities should be appointed by the state rather
than by local elections. The reason was said to be that
several elected mayors belonged to the opposition.
In November, protesters clashed with police in the city
of Bamenda in the northwest. The protests were directed
partly at the mayor appointed by the government and partly
at the fact that French-speaking teachers were increasingly
employed at the expense of English-speaking colleagues.
During the following month, concerns also erupted in the
cities of Buea and Kumba in the southwest. While some went
so far as to demand an independent, English-speaking state,
others contented themselves with demanding autonomy for the
English-speaking regions of a federation. According to
Countryaah.com, more concrete
requirements were that working materials and documents for
teachers, lawyers and journalists should be provided in
In January, the government responded by shutting down the
internet in the two regions, officially as part of the fight
against "fake news" in social media. Several months of lack
of internet caused major financial losses for the regional
business community. Several people were arrested, among them
three people who were considered leaders of the protests - a
lawyer, a teacher and a journalist. These three were
indicted for terrorism and risked the death penalty.
In protest of the perceived discrimination, the student
organization called on Scacuf to boycott before the start of
school in September. The government responded by sending
1,500 soldiers to the two English-speaking regions. The aim
of the school strike was said to be to get a referendum on
whether the two regions should break out of Cameroon and
form an independent state. In October, separatists posted on
social media where the independent Republic of Ambazonia was
symbolically proclaimed with Sisiku Ayuk as president. At
least 40 people were killed and over 100 injured when
military and security forces were deployed. The fear of
escalating the violent situation caused almost 20,000 people
to apply across the border to Nigeria.
In October, 58 men, along with 86 women and 244 children,
surrendered to the authorities in the north of the country.
They had fled Nigeria, where the men, according to what they
reported, had been forcibly recruited by the armed Islamist
movement Boko Haram.