Cameroon issues arrest warrants for separatist leaders

Police in Cameroon Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cameroonian authorities have been cracking down on anti-government protests

Cameroonian authorities have issued 15 international arrest warrants for leaders of an Anglophone separatist party, the Southern Cameroon National Council.

It comes after at least two military police officers were killed at a security checkpoint earlier this week.

Dozens were killed last month in a violent crackdown on protests against the mainly French-speaking government.

Many English speakers accuse the Francophone majority of discrimination.

They say they are often excluded from top civil service jobs, and that the French language and legal system have been imposed on them.

The government denies the allegations and insists that it treats all citizens equally.


Cameroon newspapers list Sisiku Ayuk Tabe - the president of the Anglophone consortium - as among those wanted.

The paper Le Jour, which is the leading French daily in the country, says that files have been prepared and submitted to international police with a view to extraditing Mr Tabe and his colleagues.

The divisions in the central African state date back to the post-colonial settlement.

Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One.

Following a referendum, British-run Southern Cameroons joined the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961.

It is now divided into the South-West and North-West regions.

Escalating tension

Demands for independence have grown in the two regions in recent years and tension has been escalating.

Anglophone activists launched a wave of demonstrations a year ago against what they see as marginalisation.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Activists accuse the government of using excessive force to end protests

The subsequent crackdown by state forces, including the use of helicopter gunships to fire on civilians, has killed dozens of people and bolstered support for the separatist movement.

The South-West region's governor Bernard Okalia Bilai, has called protest organisers "dogs".

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