Africa Cup: a real threat in Cameroon between Anglophone separatists and jihadists

Yaoundé: In addition to the danger posed by the Corona pandemic and the mutant Omicron, the African Cup of Nations will take via next Sunday in Cameroon in a tense security context, amidst threats from English-speaking separatists on the one hand and the risk of being attacked by the jihadists of Boko Haram and the “Islamic State” on the other. After the pandemic has raised speculation about the possibility of postponing or canceling the continent’s biggest competition, security represents another major challenge for the organizers of this country, which is in war on part of its territory. Over the course of four years, the two Anglophone regions (southwest and northwest) of Cameroon witnessed an armed rebellion punctuated by almost daily clashes between the army and separatist groups demanding the independence of “Ambazonia”, the name given by these English-speaking groups to their regions. Non-governmental organizations and the United Nations accuse both sides of committing violations and crimes against civilians, in a conflict that has caused over 3,500 deaths and 700,000 displaced since 2017, according to the United Nations and international NGOs. Some armed groups have promised to stop competitions and have sent threatening messages to teams in Group F (Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Gambia), who will play in the coastal resort of Limbe and train in Buea, the largest region in the southwest. . “Very serious threats” “The threats are very serious,” said Blaise Chamango, an official of the human rights organization “Human is Right” based in Buea. He explained: “There was an explosion in Limbe on Wednesday in a restaurant with packed meals. It’s a strong message. “Chamango adds:” The government has deployed heavily armed soldiers on almost every road in Buea and Limbe. in particular. Defense and security forces are carrying out systematic arrests and searches in different neighborhoods “. Nothing confirms that the separatists will try to do something in Yaoundé or Douala, the economic capital, where they have already launched small attacks in past. On Friday, 88-year-old Cameroonian President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 39 years, referred to “several cases of surrender” within armed groups. But he added that “they continue to engage in criminal activities, increasing attacks with IEDs and killing defenseless civilians ”, while NGOs consider him completely inflexible on the issue of English-speaking areas. Faced with this threat, the government insists that “security will be guaranteed”. Neither the authority nor the Confederation of African Football (CAF) wanted to provide details on the planned security system. “Exceptional security regime” In the capital, Yaoundé, about 250 km east of the border of the English-speaking regions, the atmosphere was more relaxed on Monday, with only a few security men making final preparations in the vicinity of the new Olympic stadium. for this tournament and will be the home of the national team “The Untamed Lions”. Human Rights Commission Chairman and Public Law Professor James Mwangi Kupila wants to believe that “the security situation is really worrying only in the Northwest and Southwest, but I think our defense forces have enough experience to answer you “. “The security system is exceptional in light of the risks and we have been in able to host the African Nations Championship in January 2021 without incident, “he says. Cameroon also faces another threat in the far north, with attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which has declined sharply since the killing of its leader, Abubakar Shekau, last May. On the other hand, the organization of the “Islamic State” in West Africa has consolidated its control of the Lake Chad region and is conducting sporadic raids in Cameroon. Thus, the two organizations can take advantage of the sudden impact of the African Cup of Nations in actions that would weaken the psyche of a little fear, in the north or in Yaoundé and Douala. “The stadium of the northern region, which will host Group D (Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau) in Garoua, is located very far from the perimeter of their activities”, more than 300 km away, said the director of the bi-weekly newspaper “Ain al-Sahel” in northern Cameroon, Gibei Gatama. (AFP)

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