Cameroon

  1. US customs seize ancient stone carvings from Cameroon

    BBC World Service

    Miami international airport

    US customs officials at Miami international airport say they have seized several ancient stone carvings illegally exported to America from Cameroon using fake documents.

    Cultural experts say the phallus shaped sculptures - known as Ikom monoliths - were made between 200 and 1,000 AD near the town of Ikom in the Cross River State area of Nigeria, bordering Cameroon.

    They are each uniquely decorated with geometric patterns of human facial features and undeciphered inscriptions, which linguists believe is a prehistoric form of writing and visual communication.

    US border officials say the stones will be returned to Cameroon.

  2. Cameroon postpones controversial phone tax

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Women talk with their cell phones in hand at the main market in Mundemba, Cameroon
    Image caption: Critics said it was unfair to heap the tax burden on phone users

    President Paul Biya has ordered Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Ngute to postpone the implementation of a controversial phone tax and instead propose a better way of collecting it.

    The tax that should have gone into effect on 15 October requires phone buyers to pay a 33% tax, if the importer never paid customs dues.

    The tax was supposed to be collected from phone users through digital means. But in a note to the prime minister, the secretary general at the presidency - Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh - has underscored the need to put it on hold.

    The note requires Mr Ngute to come up with more appropriate means of collecting the tax.

    Critics said it was inappropriate to allow importers to evade taxes, and instead heap the burden on end users.

  3. US has 'blood on its hands' over deportations

    BBC Focus on Africa radio

    Campaigners in the US have accused the government there of "mass human rights violations" adding that it has "blood on its hands" after 88 people were deported to Cameroon.

    Sofia Casini, the director of Visitation Advocacy Strategies, has called for the deportations to be investigated.

    Many of those who were flown to Cameroon had sought safety in the US after fleeing their home country due to the violence in the English-speaking part of the country.

    After applying for asylum they were held in detention by the US authorities.

    One man described his journey to the US through the Panama forest in Central America and how he had hoped that the US would live up to its reputation as a protector of human rights.

    But the deportees complained that they were violently mistreated.

    In a letter to BBC Focus on Africa, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that it did not comment on on-going operations but "in general, sensationalist unsubstantiated allegations are irresponsible, and should be treated with the greatest of scepticism”.

    Listen to the Focus on Africa interview with Sofia Casini:

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    Video caption: Sofia Casini is the director of Visitation Advocacy Strategies in the US.
  4. Campaigners urge Cameroonians to boycott phone tax

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Phone in hand
    Image caption: The government insist it is not introducing a new tax

    Consumer rights campaigners in Cameroon have called on citizens to boycott a tax on mobile phones and tablets which the government is due to introduce on Thursday.

    The tax requires customers to pay 33% of the cost of each phone they buy if the importer did not pay the corresponding customs dues.

    It is a controversial decision that has sparked condemnation by consumer associations who are calling on the government to force importers to pay the tax instead of consumers.

    The president of the National League of Cameroonian Consumers, Delor Magellan Kamgain, has called on consumers to boycott the tax.

    “The Cameroon government did not respect the procedures for implementing this decision. The government also did not carry out campaigns to inform consumers,” he said.

    But the minister of telecommunications Minette Libom Li Keng insists it is not a new tax, but just a change in the manner in which it is paid.

  5. From Cameroon to Harvard: One man's journey of hope

    A Cameroonian health researcher whose tweet on rise from his village to Harvard University went viral has spoken about his success story.

    Dr Desmond Jumbam tweeted a photo of a simple shack of a house next to a Harvard University badge.

    View more on twitter

    The photo received more than two million likes.

    Dr Jumbam said he had always wanted to get good education and return to Cameroon to serve his people.

    "I work with an NGO called Operation Smile that provides free cleft lip surgery and care to children in over 30 countries," he said.

    His father was killed in the Anglophone separatists crisis and together with his mother they are running a support group for women who have been widowed by the crisis.

    His success story from Cameroon to Harvard has inspired many.

    "I think people were inspired by it, I think its a story of hope and inspiration especially during this current global pandemic and global political situation," he said.

    Here is Dr Jumbam's full interview on Newsday:

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    Video caption: Desmond Jumbam has over 2 million likes on Twitter after posting about his life
  6. Cameroonian's surprise at response on Social Media

    Video content

    Video caption: Desmond Jumbam has over 2 million likes on Twitter after posting about his life

    Desmond Jumbam has over 2 million likes on Twitter after posting about his life.

  7. UN rights experts calls for Kamto's release

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Maurice Kamto
    Image caption: Mr Kamto has been held under house arrest for three weeks now

    A group of UN human rights experts has called on the Cameroon government to release detained opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, as well as hundreds of his supporters who were arrested following nationwide protests on 22 September.

    Mr Kamto has been held under house arrest for three weeks now.

    The military surrounded his home after he called for countrywide protests to force President Paul Biya, in power now for 38 years, to resign.

    About 500 of Mr Kamto’s supporters were also arrested, and more than 200 of them are still in custody.

    The 14 independent UN experts have also called for an impartial investigation into alleged human rights violations by the Cameroon government.

    The police declined the BBC’s request for comment.

    The government’s spokesman, Emmanuel Sadi, and his colleague of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, had earlier threatened to ban Mr Kamto’s party, Cameroon Renaissance Movement, as well as take up legal action against the opposition leader.

  8. Cameroon minister's phone hacked

    Closeup shot of an unidentifiable hacker using a cellphone in the dark
    Image caption: Hackers and scammers often target officials in Cameroon

    Cameroon's Mining Minister Gabriel Dodo Ndoké has said that hackers have taken over his phone number.

    The minister warned all his contacts not to respond to any financial requests coming from his number.

    Mr Ndoké said the authorities were working to recover the number.

    Ministers in Cameroon are often targets for hackers and scammers who create fake social media accounts using their names to con people, according to Journal du Cameroun.

  9. Schools in anglophone Cameroon to reopen after three years

    Video content

    Video caption: Separatists have enforced a boycott of schools in the English speaking region

    Separatists have enforced a boycott of schools in the English speaking region

  10. Schools re-open in Cameroon

    Students in a classroom in in Yaoundé, Cameroon
    Image caption: Some final year students had resumed school in June

    Schools in Cameroon are re-opening with students expected to learn in shifts in overcrowded schools so as to ensure social distancing.

    Some students will learn in the morning while others will report to school in the afternoon.

    Only primary and secondary school students are expected to resume on Monday with universities set to reopen on 15 October.

    The government has released guidelines to be followed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    All students except those in classes one to three and expected to wear masks.

    Handwashing points are to be provided around the school premises.

    Schools closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Final year students returned to sit for their examinations, but those in Anglophone regions have been experiencing difficulties because of the separatist rebellion.

  11. Streets quiet on 'Ambazonia independence day'

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Today, Thursday, marks three years since separatist fighters in Cameroon tried to declare the independence of the Anglophone regions and said they were creating Ambazonia.

    But unlike previous years, when the separatists would hoist flags and sing the anthem to the putative state to mark their independence day, the streets of the main cities in the English-speaking regions were largely deserted.

    The Cameroon army said that there had been no reports of separatist activity recorded across the region.

    The same calm atmosphere has been reported in the country’s South West region, except for the rural community of Alo’o. A video circulating on social media from Alo’o shows suspected separatist fighters marching and waving flags, under the command of a certain General Ayeke.

    From his prison cell in the capital, Yaounde, separatist leader Sisiku Ayuk Tabe has tweeted that no square inch of Ambazonian territory will be ceded, and warned that either the independence of the territory is restored, or the resistance will continue forever.

    A teachers and lawyers strikes in 2016 morphed into political demands, with many English speakers asking for outright independence.

    The government responded with lethal force and then a violent uprising began.

    The ensuing fighting between separatists and government soldiers has so far led to the deaths of at least 3,000 people and forced over a million to flee their homes, according to the United Nations

    Read more:

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    Video caption: Witnessing Cameroon's descent towards civil war
  12. Cameroon probes Kamto for 'plan to trigger insurrection'

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Maurice Kamto
    Image caption: Mr Kamto has been under house arrest since 22 September

    Police in Cameroon are expected to begin an investigation into allegations that opposition leader Maurice Kamto wanted to cause an insurrection in the central African country, one of the politician's lawyers has told the BBC.

    “A group of Mr Kamto’s lawyers went to the National Delegation of Public Security and to the National Gendarmerie to find out why he is being held under house arrest.

    "We were told that an investigation will be opened on him in the coming days on grounds that he tried to cause an insurrection,” said Barrister Christopher Ndong.

    A spokesperson for the police declined a BBC request for comment.

    Mr Kamto had called for peaceful protests on 22 September to push for electoral reforms, a resolution of the ongoing crisis in the Anglophone regions, and the resignation of long-time President Paul Biya.

    But he could not lead the march because the security services put him under house arrest, and he has since not been allowed out of his home.

    Mr Ndong says that 600 supporters of Mr Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement were arrested, but the BBC has not been able to independently verify the figure.

  13. Cameroon's rival parties gear up for live TV debate

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    Maurice Kamto and Paul Biya
    Image caption: Opposition leader Maurice Kamto's party says if President Paul Biya sends a representative instead of appearing himself they will do the same

    Cameroon's main opposition party has accepted a challenge to debate with the ruling RDPC/CPDM live on TV, days after it organised anti-government protests in several towns and cities that were met with a crackdown.

    "Figures against figures, facts against facts, strategy against strategy, and vision against vision," pledged ruling party communication secretary Jacques Fame Ndongo in a press release.

    "Debate is the strength of ideas and the strength of arguments. The street is provocation," he added.

    The opposition MRC/CRM's leader Maurice Kamto is still under house arrest following Tuesday's protests.

    One of his deputies, Barrister Christopher Ndong, has told the BBC they "welcome the debate" as a "fundamental democratic principle".

    The main opposition party says 593 people were arrested as a result of the protests, and has said one person was killed and others were wounded. This has not been independently verified.

    However reports indicate that several journalists covering the events were arrested. Some protesters in the economic hub of Douala were also shot at, and security forces used tear gas and water cannon.

    The police has declined the BBC’s requests for comment.

    Mr Kamto called for protests to force President Paul Biya, in power for 38 years, out of office.

    Demonstrators were also demanding changes to the electoral code and the resolution of the Anglophone crisis.

  14. Police confine Cameroon opposition leader at home

    Cameroonian opposition leader Maurice Kamto (L) sits in the back of a car as he is driven away on October 5, 2019
    Image caption: Maurice Kamto has previously been arrested over anti-government protests

    Cameroon's opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, has been confined at home for planning Tuesday's anti-government protests.

    A video showing police vehicles outside the leader's house has been shared online.

    The leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) told Voice of America that he was neither beaten or detained, but feared that he would be arrested if he stepped out of his guarded house.

    Mr Kamto called for protests to demand an end to the Anglophone crisis and a reform of the electoral code.

    Demonstrators were dispersed by police in major towns and the opposition says one person was killed and several injured.

    Mr Kamto on Wednesday tweeted wishes of speedy recovery to those injured and termed Tuesday's protests as "a resounding success".

    He said the protests were a powerful force and that they will continue until President Paul Biya resigns.

  15. One 'killed' in Cameroon anti-government protests

    Protests against Cameroon's President Paul Biya, near the embassy of Cameroon in Paris on September 22, 2020.
    Image caption: Anti-government protests were also held near Cameroon's embassy in Paris

    A protester was killed and others injured in Cameroon during anti-government protests held across the country on Tuesday, according to the opposition party's lawyer.

    The lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, tweeted a video of a protester lying motionless.

    He wrote: "We are receiving reports that at least one protester has been shot and killed by police in Douala [the country's biggest city] and many others injured and arrested."

    The government had warned of a firm response to Tuesday's protests called by opposition leader Maurice Kamto.

    The demonstrators were calling for an end to the Anglophone crisis and a reform of the electoral code.

    Mr Kamto has suggested if the two issues are not addressed, the protests will continue until President Paul Biya is forced from power.

    Mr Biya has been in power since 1982. He was re-elected in 2018 in an election that Mr Kamto claimed he won.

  16. Four journalists arrested amid Cameroon protests

    Four reporters have been arrested while covering anti-government protests in Cameroon's two biggest cities of Yaoundé and Douala.

    The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union is now working to secure the release of Lindovi Ndjio, Rodrigue Ngassi, Tah Mai Jarvis, Tebong Christian, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists:

    View more on twitter
  17. Cameroon police 'shoot at opposition protesters'

    Killian Ngala

    BBC News, Yaoundé

    A top official of Cameroon's opposition CRM party has said that a number of anti-government demonstrators have been targeted by security forces in the biggest city, Douala.

    "Peaceful protesters have been shot at, arrested, brutalised and tear-gassed," said Barrister Christopher Ndong, the first vice-president of the party.

    A journalist working for private-owned newspaper La Nouvelle Expression was among those arrested in the capital, Yaoundé. Unverified reports suggest that dozens of CRM activists were arrested there on Tuesday morning.

    The police have not responded to the BBC's request for comment.

    Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets in several towns and cities, including Douala, Yaounde, Bafang, and Baham - the hometown of CRM leader Maurice Kamto, in the west of the country.

    They have been calling for an end to the Anglophone crisis and a reform of the electoral code.

    Mr Kamto has suggested if the two issues are not addressed, the protests will continue until President Paul Biya is forced from power.

    Mr Biya has been in power since 1982. He was re-elected in 2018 in an election that Mr Kamto claimed he won.

    Government spokesman Rene Emmanuel Sadi has criticised the opposition leader, saying that the protests were the weapon of a politician who cannot win an election.

  18. Tear gas fired at Cameroon protesters

    Multiple reports indicate that tear gas has been fired at people taking part in opposition protests in Cameroon's biggest city, Douala.

    Reporter Regina Sondo shared this footage minutes ago:

    View more on twitter

    A nationwide call for anti-government protests was made by the MRC/CRM party.

    But a heavy security presence has been reported in recent days and the government is accused by Human Rights Watch and other groups of cracking down on dissent.

  19. Rights group condemns Cameroon protest crackdown

    Campaign group Human Rights Watch has accused the Cameroonian government of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to "quell the right to assemble" ahead of protests planned for Tuesday.

    The opposition MRC/CRM party, whose leader Maurice Kamto maintains he was the rightful winner of the 2018 presidential election, is calling for institutional reforms and the return of peace to the country's troubled Anglophone regions.

    But on Friday, days ahead of the planned demonstrations, security officers forcibly searched vehicles at busy road junctions in the capital Yaoundé.

    The health minister also called for a "ban" on "all protests" in favour of social distancing and other "live-saving measures".

    The next day, HRW says, the headquarters of the opposition CPP party were surrounded by over 30 policemen and gendarmes who left after an hour's stand-off.

    Despite the call to protest, residents of the two biggest cities, Douala and Yaoundé, say many people are staying at home.

    A heavy security and police presence is reported.

    View more on twitter