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Maurice Kamto released

YAOUNDÉ – AFP –  Cameroon’s main opposition leader Maurice Kamto walked free from jail Saturday after a military court ordered his release at the behest of veteran President Paul Biya.

The opposition leader was released after nine months imprisonment following surprise conciliatory gestures from Biya, who is facing a number of domestic crises and international criticism over political freedoms.

“We are here today thanks to your constant support,” Kamto told hundreds of supporters greeting him. “I saw you even when you couldn’t see me.”

He announced a “new chapter in our struggle”, adding that “if some people think that our liberation means the end of our struggle they have understood nothing”.

The struggle would be “peaceful”, he said before being driven away surrounded by a dozen-strong escort of klaxon-blaring vehicles.

Kamto, 65, was arrested in late January after months of peaceful opposition protests over the results of the October 2018 election.

Some 102 others in detention were also set for release “if they have not been detained for anything else,” the military court said.

Biya, 86, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist for nearly 37 years, on Friday announced he had ordered prosecutions to be dropped against “some” opposition leaders, including a number from the main Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) which Kamto leads.

The dozens of others set for release include Biya’s former economic advisor Christian Penda Ekoka, lawyer Michele Ndoki and well-known rapper Valsero, known for songs critical of the ruling establishment.

Amnesty International called Biya’s decision “a welcome step towards ending the long repression of dissenting voices in Cameroon”.

But the organisation also called on authorities to “go further by releasing all other individuals arbitrarily detained for having exercised their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

Kamto went on trial with 88 others in a military court in September on charges of insurrection, hostility to the motherland and rebellion — crimes which could carry the death penalty, though this is no longer carried out in Cameroon.

The opposition leader was greeted by dozens of cheering, dancing young people as he arrived at his home in a residential neighbourhood of Yaoundé following his release.

“Maurice Kamto, save us,” the crowd chanted.

Most of those gathered were under 30 and, like around 75 percent of the population, would not have known another leader than Biya.

“We are tired of this system that has been in place for 37 years,” said one protester, Abraham. “We want alternance in power. We want a new momentum for our country.”

Biya’s shock announcement Friday came on the closing day of crunch talks aimed at easing a bloody crisis in Cameroon’s anglophone regions, which were shunned by the main separatist leaders.

The talks also ended with a proposal to give more autonomy to the English-speaking regions, where a two-year armed campaign for independence has been met with a brutal crackdown and cost nearly 3,000 lives, according to the International Crisis Group.

In addition, Biya had Thursday announced the shelving of an investigation and the release of 333 people detained during the crisis.

The two areas in western Cameroon — the Northwest Region and Southwest Region — are home to most of the country’s anglophones, who account for about a fifth of a population that is overwhelmingly French-speaking.

A presidential statement Saturday said that “the head of state reaffirms his determination to pursue relentlessly his efforts seeking ways and means to resolve peaceably the crises and conflicts confronting our country”.

The apparent change in Biya’s approach comes after months of intransigence and follows international pressure.

Washington indicated in March that Yaoundé would do well to free Kamto — a sentiment repeated since by the European Union and also France.

“The president is well aware that Cameroon is at a crossroads as it is dealing with important crises,” Richard Makon, an expert on Cameroon politics, told AFP.

Born in the western town of Bafoussam on February 15, 1954, Kamto, is a former president of the UN International Law Commission which oversees codification of international law.

From 1996 to 2002 he was Cameroon’s legal representative at the International Court of Justice, notably called to rule on a border dispute with neighbouring Nigeria. Cameroon ultimately was awarded sovereignty over the fish and oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula.

Biya rewarded him by making him minister delegate to the justice ministry in 2004 but he stepped down in 2011 and a year later took over the MRC, a party founded by change-hungry intellectuals.

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17 comments

  1. Precisely the problem!!!!!!

    All Cameroonian drama aims at SIDELINING the Anglophones. The great national dialogue is the last eloquent proof – Kamto the Francophone is released, Ayuk Tabe the Anglophone not released! Why? Because he is a prisoner? And those from New Bell Prison, released and paraded before the audience at the Yaounde Conference Center?

    • The regime made it abundantly clear. If a prisoner wants to be pardoned, he or she should behave as such. Ayuk has a defiant attitude. Therefore will stay in jail until he realizes he cannot beat a State of Cameroon. Kamto has called for peace!

  2. “Paul Biya cannot play with the freedom of Cameroonians by arresting when he wants and releasing them as he wishes”.

    • The imprisonment of most of the Anglophones and MRC militants was unjust and politically-motivated.
      They should, therefore, be paid compensations by the GOC

  3. But he is succeeding in doing just that and has done so over the years, thanks to his being a pawn of France, a role he euphemistically embellishes as “meilleur eleve” who puts into practice the “divide-and-rule” prescriptions of France.

    • Who knows any country that went from a relatively poor country and succeeded in the process of economic transformation, Industrialization and modernization with the system called democracy?

  4. Sissiku, will be released soon. If this is not the case, then the Biya `special status`,
    has no bearing.

  5. Sissiku has blood in his hands unlike Kamto whose protest was without the use of arms. Sissiku cannot be released. He has caused the death of innocent anglophones just because they didn’t support his Ambazonia nonsense.

  6. The release of Prof Kamto was inevitable.
    The hypercentralized tribal government supported by France could not continue the fight against their people Francophones and the 2nd class Anglophones at the same time.
    The white South African apartheid regime held Mandela for 27yrs but it never changed the believe of black South Africans that apartheid was an inhumane System.
    The apartheid war on Anglophones in the southern Cameroons with their leader Ayuk Take jailed since 2018 will not change the desire Anglophones to want freedom from the Franco–Francophone apartheid colonial Government of Cameroon.
    War on Anglophones cost:
    300 villages burnt
    20,000 killed
    10,000 jailed
    150,000 refugees in Nigeria
    650,000 displaced
    130,000 children no school
    Who is fooling who?
    Low IQ!

  7. @bobjazz ”Sissiku has blood in his hands unlike Kamto whose protest was without the use of arms.” U this shameful half baked anglophone is still talking? So Sisiku has blood in his hands and what does Biya has in his hands? water? When people came out on the 22nd of september 2017 to protest,i did not see them carrying arms.What was your gov’t’s reaction? They used life bullets to quench the protest.And today u are talking about Sisiku has blood in his hands? The fact that your gov’t is calling for dialogue after 3 years of blood shed means they are accepting their error.The fact that your gov’t is giving ”special status” to the anglophone region means they have accepted that anglophones are different from francophones.

  8. @bobjazz The fact that your gov’t finally called for dialogue after 3 years of bloodshed means they are accepting the responsibility for having failled to dialogue from the beginning,which would have spared the lives lost.It therefore means that Sisiku and co are the ones that have forced this your thievery gov’t to accept that anglophones are differnt from francophones and should be given a special statu.Even if the war ends at this point,Sisiku will boast that he has achieved something,not just for the anglophones,but for francophones as well.What has Kamto achieved,since he did not carry arms? Spent 8 months in jail and nothing has changed becos of his fight.Don’t worry,we are not done with Biya yet.He will get Sisiku out of jail through the barrel of the gun.Very soon bombs will enter.

    • @ Kongosa man, I am not a Biya nor an Amba supporter and you know that very very well. If you can’t counter my argument you better shut your f’cking mouth. I am just stating the difference between Sisiku who chose to use arms and the more skillful Kamto who didn’t. The difference between Biya and Sisiku is that Biya is the president and Sisiku is not recognized by any international organization as the leader of anglophones. Anybody or group who use arms against the citizens of a country is automatically referred to as a terrorist or a terrorist organization. When did anglophones ever voted for Sisiku as their leader?

    • Funny to read this! I do not see any positif change in the anglo region , even if this comes to an end , poor people in anglophones regions will never have peace from their own people.

      What I saw in the video ( Ayafor killing) really its unbelievable , young people taking those kinds of actions and you are here talking about positif changes? Massa that country don finish Biya and his friends Sisiku have f..k up everything.

  9. @bobjazz May be u should start by telling us the year anglophones voted Ahidjo to become their president in 1961.May be u should start by telling us the year anglophones voted for Biya to become their president in 1982.U think u are smart,aren’t u? Biya has no legal or legitimacy over the people of Southern Cameroon.And the people of SC don’t want him as their president either.Let him govern LRC,the plantation that France gave him.U keep asking stupid questions.The same question the illegitimate and illegal apartheid government was asking who voted mandela to be the leader of the anti-apartheid movement.Let me tell u,in political sciences,there is what they called legality and legitimacy.Go and find the meaning then u will know that Biya is not only illegaL but illegitimate to govern SC.

    • Wow! @ Kongosa man, Stop arguing like a kid. At least use your brain if you have no international relations training. You don’t make any sense. For your information, there is no such thing as Southern Cameroon as this was a colonial master’s creation to evenly distribute the country called Kamerun’s resources among themselves after the defeat of Germany. Any Cameroonian be it anglo or franco can easily defeat this notion of Southern Cameroon in any international court of law today as it was a colonial master’s fabrication separating Cameroonians from their brothers and sisters to evenly distribute their resources among themselves.
      For your information Biya is a law school graduate from Sorbonne in France and the West knows that he can use this as his argument and win.

  10. @bobjazz You are the one arguing like a kid.SC and LRC are both children of the United Nations.In Africa,a nation is born,from the day it got it’s independence and become member of the UN.In case u don’t know,SCnians,the people u called anglophones in your Republic,are a sovereign people,different from francophones.Keep talking about German CMR,lets see if Biya is going to take the territory of SC by force and govern the people in the territory base on that argument.Sisiku is legal to govern SC ,base on the fact that he is an origin from SC.He is also legitimate,base on the fact that he is the person that the people of SC want,not Biya,an origin from neighbouring LRC who has never spoken English,the language that the people of SC understands.Biya is illegal and illegitimate to govern SC.

eget eleifend mattis at venenatis elementum porta. justo felis velit,