Cameroon and US clash over detained opposition leader

Thursday March 07 2019

Cameroon's Communication minister Rene Emmanuel Sadi. NDI EUGENE NDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Cameroon government has accused the US of attempted “inadmissible strong interference” into its internal affairs.

The accusation comes after a US official suggested that Cameroon opposition leader Maurice Kamto and his supporters be released from detention.

In an interview on Radio France International (RFI) on Monday, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Tibor Nagy, said it was viewed that the Cameroon Renaissance Movement's 2018 presidential candidate had been jailed for his political activities “and this is unacceptable”.

Prof Kamto and several of his supporters have been detained since January.

An attempt

“He should together with his supporters be released and we will not beat around the bush to say it,” Mr Nagy said; a remark which Cameroon sees as an attempt to interfere in its internal affairs.


"The government of Cameroon strongly refutes these comments which do not only indicate a lack of knowledge of the stakes, facts and realities concerning the arrest of Maurice Kamto and many of his supporters, but also demonstrates a barely veiled threat and inadmissible strong interference into the internal affairs of Cameroon,” Communication minister Rene Emmanuel Sadi, said in a statement.

Mr Sadi stressed that Cameroon was governed by the rule of law and the opposition leader was, in no way, detained for political activities or participating legally in the country’s politics.

Was arrested

“Prof Kamto and his supporters are detained for common law crimes including insurgency, hostility against the fatherland, rebellion and destruction of public property,” Mr Sadi stated.

Prof Kamto, who declared himself winner of last year’s presidential election, was arrested alongside 116 of his supporters for organising and participating in unauthorised street protests. The demonstrations, dubbed “white marches”, were violently suppressed by security forces, leaving at least six people with bullet wounds.

The opposition leader maintains that he was the winner of the October 2018 presidential poll, but official results showed he emerged a distant second with 14.23 percent of the vote.

Cameroon's veteran leader Paul Biya was declared the winner with 71.28 percent of the vote.