Cameroon’s government says the number of soldiers and police killed while fighting armed English-speaking separatists who want to split from the French speaking regions of the country has increased from 80 to more than 100 in the last two weeks and kidnapping of members of the security forces also continue to rise.
With civilians and separatists complaining of widespread human rights abuses by the military and police, calls are growing for genuine dialogue to end the war.
Members of civil society are pressing Cameroonian President Paul Biya to free arrested leaders of armed groups for peace to return and the carnage to stop.Speaking before an unusually quiet parliament, Cameroon Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo read the names of soldiers and policemen who have died in the war against armed separatists fighting for the independence of an English-speaking-state in Cameroon.
As Beti Assomo read through the list, VOA counted more than 120 names of slain servicemen. The defense minister was invited by the lawmakers to give a balance sheet of a war that Cameroon president Paul Biya declared seven months ago against people he said were “terrorists” wanting to divide his country.Robert Bapooh Lipot, a UPC opposition political party lawmaker, says it was the most touching plenary session of parliament he has ever witnessed in Cameroon.
“This is the worst thing which can happen to a soldier,” he said. “A soldier knows that he can die while defending the integrity of his nation against another army, but never against its own citizens. That is why we think that those who took guns against our nation, they must now abandon this option and know that we are belonging to the same country.”
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