A 48-hour curfew was imposed on Sunday in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon ahead of Monday’s first anniversary of a symbolic declaration of independence by Anglophone separatists.
“The movement of people between areas in the north-west is banned for a period of 48 hours from Sunday, September 30 until Monday, October 1,” Adolphe Lele Lafrique, governor of the primarily English-speaking region, said.
Similar measures were in force across Cameroon’s other Anglophone areas, officials told AFP.
Gatherings of more than four people are prohibited and bars and shops selling alcohol will be closed.
The proclamation last year of the self-declared republic of Ambazonia sparked a violent crisis in which hundreds of people have died.
A top UN official has called for the government and separatists to enter into dialogue to end the crisis (see our earlier post).
Cameroon will hold presidential elections on 7 October which the separatists have vowed to disrupt.
President Paul Biya, 85, who has ruled the country since 1982 will be running for an unprecedented seventh term.
The division between Cameroon’s French-speaking majority and its English-speaking minority has its roots in the colonial era.
The central African country was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One.
After French-administered Cameroon gained independence in 1960, the two parts of the country formed a single nation the following year.
This followed a referendum, when British-run Southern Cameroons voted to join the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961, while Northern Cameroons voted to join English-speaking Nigeria.
Residents of Cameroon Anglophone regions have largely ignored a curfew imposed in the regions to coincide with the first anniversary of the declaration of an autonomous state called Ambazonia, the BBC’s Randy Joe Sa’ah reports.
The 48-hour curfew, announced on Sunday, was to restrict people’s movement in the regions. (see our earlier story).
Ambazonia flags were were seen in several villages, news agency AFP reports.
According to the International Crisis Group there are now more than 1,000 separatist fighters, who control “a significant proportion of rural areas and main roads” in the English-speaking regions.
Cover photo: Soldiers of the 21st Motorized Infantry Brigade patrol in the streets of Buea, Cameroon, on April 26. (Alexis Huguet/AFP/Getty Images)