Tuesday, 19 February 2013

French nationals kidnapped in northern Cameroon

It has been confirmed that early on Tuesday 19 February seven French nationals were kidnapped in northern Cameroon about 10 km from the border with Nigeria. The French Embassy in Yaounde has said that they were abducted by armed men on motorbikes and were being taken towards Nigeria.

Menas Associates fortnightly Cameroon Politics & Security noted in our 16 January 2013 issue that there was an impending looming over the country's three Muslim-dominated northern regions of Adamawa, North and Far-North provinces. Traces of Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram had been discovered but the Cameroon government was covertly trying to undermine the threat.

On 28 December 2012 the publisher of the L'Oeil du Sahel weekly tabloid, Guibai Gatama, was arrested in Yaounde by plainclothes para-military gendarmes because his newspaper reported that 31 Boko Haram suspects had been arrested the previous day by local police and handed over to Nigerian security. Although Gatama was released later that day, his arrest was seen as an attempt to expose Cameroon's collaboration in the fight against Boko Haram. Such collaboration could, we noted at the time attract the sect's operations in northern Cameroon.

The local people are already infuriated by the arrest of one of their own, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, as well as other local dignitaries who are being detained on charges of large-scale corruption. The corruption charges against Yaya - a Fulani Muslim from Garoua who was President Paul Biya's former Secretary-General at the presidency but became Biya's adversary - are seen as a pretext to silence him and prevent him succeeding the president. It is even being reported that potential voters in Garoua are reluctant to register for the triple legislative, council and senatorial elections that are expected to be held this year.

For more news and expert analysis about Cameroon, please see Cameroon Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

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