The Social Democratic Front has called the government “oppressive” and “repressive” in the wake of the deadly December 8 clashes between armed security forces and protesters in Bamenda.
In resolutions at the end of its National Executive Committee meeting on Saturday in Bamenda, the SDF denounced the “disproportionate use of force and troops against [unarmed] and helpless, poverty-stricken youths [haunted] by a compromised and uncertain future.”
Several people died after police opened fire at protesters trying to disrupt a rally billed for the city by the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party to call for calm after weeks of strikes and to denounce calls for federalism and the independence of the former Southern Cameroons.
The violence in Bamenda followed clashes weeks before between security forces and students of the University of Buea, during which dozens were kicked, hit with batons and forced to lie in mud. More than 200 were arrested and detained for several days.
Authorities say in both instances, security forces acted in self-defense, and have blamed the violence on what they have termed manipulative forces with a hidden agenda. Images captured on social media showed security forces firing at buildings and people, in addition to gassing streets.
At a news conference Saturday, the government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said two people died in Bamenda “under circumstances which are yet to be clarified,” while some security forces were wounded.
Teachers and lawyers began the strikes to denounce the “Frenchisation” of Anglophone educational and legal systems.
“[The National Executive Committee] frowns at the arbitrary, oppressive, repressive and cavalier manner with which the Biya Government is addressing burning and legitimate issues raise by common law lawyers, teachers’ trade unions and other civil society organisations,” the party said in a statement signed by its chairman John Frun Ndi.
“[The National Executive Committee] enjoins the judiciary to bring to book on of before the 9th of January 2017; all those responsible for the brutal killing and torture witnessed in the North West and South West regions.”