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Friday, October 5, 2018


"A small group can not threaten the whole nation!" In Buea, in Cameroon's English-speaking zone, Mohamed Saulu Muha, who has come to attend a meeting in support of President Paul Biya, who is seeking a seventh term on Sunday, is "not afraid" of the separatists.

Since the end of 2017, they have relentlessly fought the regular army in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, the South-West and the North-West. Mohammed, 35, from Limbe, a seaside resort not far from Buea, is among the few hundred activists of the ruling party, the Cameroon People's Democratic Rally (CPDM), who mobilize in the region to support their candidate in the region. capital of the Southwest.

The challenge was daunting: every day in the city, shots are heard. Fights are regularly held a few kilometers from Buea, when it is not in its suburbs. In the two English-speaking regions, armed separatists fight on a daily basis, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. "All is well," says Mohamed, who wears a scarf in blue and white colors of President Paul Biya, 85, including 35 in power. "There is no problem" security for the meeting, says Aboubakar Yacoubu, a police commissioner. "Those who are linked to the separatists have fled".

An important device was deployed to Buea Wednesday to ensure the safety of the meeting and officials. A curfew was put in place on Sunday and Monday in Buea, as in most other cities in English-speaking Cameroon, to prevent separatist attacks on Monday, a year after the symbolic declaration of independence of October 1, 2017.

Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 170 members of the security forces and more than 400 civilians have been killed, according to NGOs. Displaced people are waiting for water in Minawao refugee camp in northern Cameroon on 9 February 2018. (Mr Kindzeka / VOA) No candidate for the presidential election has come for the moment. campaign in Buea or Bamenda, the two regional capitals that are regularly the scene of clashes. Mr. Biya had been announced in Buea mid-week for an official visit but he has not come yet.

Apart from a meeting on Saturday in Maroua, the capital of the Far North region, mourned for five years by the repeated attacks of the jihadists of Boko Haram, he made no public appearance.

His supporters - ministers and senior party officials - campaigned for him, debating with other television candidates and organizing rallies across the country, such as Wednesday's Buea.

The territorial network of the CPDM and the large financial resources mobilized have enabled a massive poster campaign. Everywhere, posters bearing his slogan, "The strength of the experiment", were stuck. Opposition parties are more rare. Gunshots On Monday, shots were again heard in several places in Buea.

"The inhabitants of Buea support Biya!" Says Dimitri Assoa, another activist. Other inhabitants, interviewed by the AFP but not present at the pro-Biya rally, have however widely reported a tense situation between the authorities and the population. Most of the activists present in the official gallery were Francophones who arrived in Buea by minibus registered in other regions. The separatists "intimidate people with guns", Dimitri believes, who believes that the Cameroonian security forces engaged in the conflict do not engage in such practices.

Abuses committed by the Cameroonian armed forces as well as separatists have been reported for several months in the media and by NGOs. A few kilometers from the meeting, a burnt truck and a car were waiting to be removed, on a side of the road. A poster of the outgoing President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, in the coastal town of southwest Limbe, in the English-speaking part of the country, on September 26, 2018. According to local residents, these vehicles were attacked more than once week, but residents are divided on the perpetrators of the attack. "It was the Ambazonians", wants to believe a driver, designating the separatists, who want to create a state baptized "Ambazonia". "We do not know, but there were gunshots," retorts a girl.

At least five bullet casings were still on the ground, next to the abandoned carcasses, in this now quiet neighborhood, Mile-15.

In front of the official platform, we want to celebrate the holding of a meeting in Buea. "The campaign will be held in all the subdivisions of our region," said Gladys Etombi, the local deputy of the ruling party. "Security comes from God," she adds, saying her candidate, Paul Biya, will be a big winner. Even in English-speaking areas