War in the Making? Francophones Beginning to Leave Bamenda, City Gov’t Forcefully Seals Shops, Blames it on Ghost Town Observing Traders

Bamenda Commercial Ave.
Bamenda Commercial Ave. this morning with police presence seen every where.

By Ngala Hans, Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – Residents of the city of Bamenda wake up Tuesday August 29 griped with fear following a decision by Vincent Ndumu, the city’s Government Delegate that tantamount to a declaration of war on commerce in the municipality. The delegate this morning ordered the sealing of shops belonging to persons who respect ghost town calls by keeping their shops closed.

Ndumu during a meeting at the Congress Hall in Bamenda on August 25th had warned traders that should they continue to heed to ghost town calls, he will personally see to it that their shops are sealed for good. Speaking later over state-run radio, CRTV, he said Bamenda cannot afford to go down the treacherous path of Ghost towns which are “impoverishing its denizens”.

At that Congress Hall meeting Ndumu was scolded to his face by the traders who asked how safe they were to open their shops when shops are being burnt by the day by unidentified persons and the city administration has failed to do anything. This, the traders argued, has happened in the face of troops deployed by government to “ensure the safety of residents”.

Today August 29 took a dramatic turn after armored police vehicles made rounds to the city’s four main markets forcefully keeping shops sealed to ensure that their owners do not sell because they observed Ghost Town on Monday. The traders have said they are acting in solidarity with those in jail as a result of the Anglophone Crisis which started in October last year.

The BBC caught the story, reporting thus on their website “There’s tension in Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s north-west region,

Vincent Nji Ndumu.
Gov’t Delegate to the Bamenda Urban Council, Vincent Nji Ndumu.

where English speakers have been protesting against what they call unfair treatment by the government, which is dominated by French speakers.

Every Monday, shop owners in and around the city’s two main markets have shut their businesses in sympathy with the protests.

Now, in a move to pressurize the business people into ending their action, the city council has permanently sealed off the affected areas, stopping shop owners from being able to reach their businesses.

In order to enforce the move, armed gendarmes and elite soldiers have been deployed in the city center.”

One of the sealed shops with a note of injunction over it from the city gov’t.

Anger is building as the traders who came to the city to work are not returning home

When the Cameroon Journal spoke with some of the residents, most expressed disappointment with the government’s action.

“How can they expect schools to resume when they are intimidating us with more soldiers and police instead of releasing our brothers and sisters as we have been asking them? It shows very clearly that this whole struggle is business to them. Imagine the gendarmes demanding 300 Million Francs to be paid to them. For what? So they can harass us here in Bamenda!” a man who refused to be named queried.

Prior to Tuesday’s action, most Francophone residents in Bamenda had over the weekend packed out of the town of their own accord, leading some to believe that the more troops deployed to Bamenda have order to kill any form of dissent.

Francophones both in Bamenda and elsewhere are being accused by Anglophones for not standing in solidarity with them, although the leaders of the protests have made it clear that the struggle is not an Anglophones versus Francophone one.

International bodies have condemned the repressive response in dealing with the protests including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, Transparency International and many more.

In January, Cameroonian authorities cut internet connectivity to both Anglophone regions and only reconnected them about three months later after heavy pressure from the international community. Financial losses from the internet cut were estimated in Billions of Dollars.

With the move by Government to keep the shops of traders in the largest town in the former West Cameroon shut down, fears are that a new wave of deadly protests could be in the making as the International Crisis Group has warned.

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