Ambazonia leaders on trial in Cameroon

The 10 Ambazonian leaders facing trial before a military tribunal in Cameroon's capital Yaounde are disputing the tribunal's authority to judge them, denying Cameroonian sovereignty over their homeland. They also deny their own Cameroonian nationality. asserting that they are citizens of Ambazonia, or the former British Southern Cameroons—a country the Yaounde tribunal says "does not yet exist." The defendants are known as the "Nera 10," for the hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, where they were detained by security agents in January 2018 and forcibly deported to Cameroon. They had been seeking asylum in Nigeria following Cameroon's violent crackdown on the Ambazonia independence movement.

The lead defendant is Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, president of the Ambazonian interim government declared in 2017. Since the trial opened in November, violence has again escalated in Ambazonia, where some 400,000 have now been displaced, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "Most of these people barely have enough to eat, not to talk of a decent place to live or access to proper sanitation services," according to a December OCHA report.

The OCHA report found that over 4 million have been impacted by the conflict in Ambazonia, which covers what Cameroon officially considers its North-West and South-West administrative regions. In recent fighting, the convoy of the governor of the South-West region Bernard Okalia Bilai was attacked by resistance fighters Feb. 12. A top leader of the resistance, Gen.Andrew Ngoe of the Southern Cameroons Defense Forces (SOCADEF), was reported killed by the Cameroon army Jan. 24. (Journal du CamerounJournal du CamerounJournal du Cameroun, AfricaNews)

Cameroon's government is facing a general crisis of legitimacy following contested elections in October. Maurice Kamto of the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement asserts that his victory was stolen by fraud. He was arrested on Jan. 28 along with several other opposition leaders—including one who was pulled out of his hospital bed where he was recovering from gunshot wounds sustained at a protest demonstration. Police have fired on protesters in unrest that has gripped Yaounde and other cities since the elections, Cameroon's President Paul Biya has ruled for 36 years. (The Guardian)

Photo via Journal du Cameroun