Cameroon military tribunal jails 47 opposition activists for planned protests

A military tribunal in Cameroon has jailed dozens of opposition supporters for terms of up to seven years for “rebellion”, their party’s deputy secretary general said Monday.

The 47 defendants were arrested in September 2020 as Maurice Kamto’s Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) and several other parties planned protests against the government of Paul Biya, in power for nearly 40 years in the central African country.

41-year-old bread seller Emmanuel Koanye was among those condemning the prison terms. Koanye stated it is very wrong and abnormal for authorities, who claim they are democratic, to order the arrest and sentencing of people who simply expressed their democratic opinions.

Koanye says they are expecting Maurice Kamto, head of the MRC party, to give directives on what should be done to press for the release of the jailed opposition supporters.

Cameroonian police arrested the opposition members in September 2020 while they were planning protests against President Paul Biya’s long stay in power. Biya has ruled Cameroon for four decades, making him Africa’s second longest ruling leader.

The MRC have alleged that than 120 are still being held in prisons across Cameroon. When contacted by VOA, MRC officials refused to comment on this week’s sentencing of their members.

President of the opposition United Socialist Democratic Party (USDP) Prince Ekosso witnessed the military tribunal’s sentencing. Ekosso says the ruling shows that Biya will crush opponents to maintain his grip on power.

“It is so disturbing that in Cameroon laws are made to suit the caprices of individuals, to carry out intimidation and arbitrary arrests and sentencing of individuals,” Ekosso said. “Laws are supposed to be made to protect the individuals, to protect the citizens, and to help those citizens to emancipate.”




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