AFRICA/CAMEROON – English-speaking areas without the Internet for 50 days to try to block the protest for bilingualism Yaounde (Agenzia Fides) –
English-speaking regions of Cameroon (in the north-west and south-west of the country), have now been without the internet for 50 days which is causing serious inconvenience to the local population and heavy economic losses. The measure was taken to try to block the protests which since mid-November disturb the only two English-speaking provinces (out of 10) of Cameroon and the rest is a French-speaking Country. Demonstrators call for the full implementation of bilingualism established by the Constitution but which, they say, has remained only on paper. Anglophone residents say they feel discriminated against by the majority French-speaking Country.
Since November more than 100 people have been arrested following clashes between demonstrators and the police. Students and teachers who are leading the protest say that in English-speaking areas teachers speaking English should be sent and not French. There are also lawyers who question not only the use of French in courts but claim the application of the British Common Law. The root of the crisis stems from the division between France and Britain of the then German colony after the First World War. The French-speaking part became independent in 1960 while the Anglophone in 1961. This latter with a referendum established to join the Francophone Cameroon. President Paul Biya sent Premier Philemon Yang to the English-speaking areas to try to mediate, so far without success. During his mission the Faculty of Medicine of Bamenda, the capital of the northwest and the stronghold of the protest movement was burned.
Tensions with the English-speaking part of the Country does not prevent the authorities of Yaounde to receive new development aid allocated by the UK, for an amount of 150 million CFA Francs. Given its bilingualism, Cameroon is at the same time part of the British Commonwealth and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 09/03/2017)