By Eric Tataw – Washington DC, USA, Thursday, January 16, 2020.
Two major government buildings in Ngoketunjia, a division in Cameroon’s restive North West Region have been burnt down, late Thursday, January 16, 2020, National Telegraph has confirmed.
The office of the Divisional Officer and that of Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), in Babessi, have been torched, said a source. In Cameroon, the administration is set up from the Regions with Governors as heads to the Division with Senior Divisional Officers (SDO) and to the Sub-Division. The D.O is the highest-ranking personality in the Sub-division.
Although the magnitude of the damages can’t be exactly ascertained as at now, a National Telegraph on-the-spot secret stringer said soldiers arrived the scenes while the fires were still very intense.
The arsonists torched the D.O’s office before moving some kilometers to set fire on the ELECAM office in the same quarter in Babessi; Abakwa.
Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West are in the third year of armed conflict following the Declaration of Independence by the regions’ rebels led by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius now jailed at a maximum-security prison in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.
The government of Cameroon has announced council and legislative elections for February but the rebels have vowed to disrupt both. Though no group has claimed responsibility, the burning of both offices is viewed largely as a move from the rebels to keeping to their promise of “No Elections” in Ambazonia as the new outlawed state is called.
Both private and government facilities have been burnt down by unknown men since the announcement of elections. Most of the torched properties are said to belong to those connected to upcoming elections, sources say.
Political pundits, however, say the continuation of insecurity in the regions shows President Paul Biya’s inability to resolve the conflict at a national level.
President Paul Biya called for a National Dialogue, late 2019, to resolve the crisis but ended up politicizing it, political pundits say, adding it was totally boycotted by the rebels.
Cameroon’s 86-year-old dictator vowed in his New Year’s televised address to his country to crush separatists, referring to those fighting to establish Ambazonia. The US has however warned the conflict can’t be won militarily and has also placed trade sanctions on Cameroon over Human Rights abuses.
At least, 14000 people have so far been killed in battles and military raids with over 400 villages burnt down. Thousands are held across various detention facilities, including Ayuk Tabe and nine others sentenced for life. Over two million remain displaced as refugees and IDPs.