Cameroon:Government ‘open to talks’

Cameroon English Speakers Protesters

Cameroon’s information minister has said the government is open to discussing grievances of people in English-speaking parts of the country – but he suggested there would be no move to restore internet access for them.

Issa Tchiroma told Media “We are ready to listen. We said that, ok, we understand your claim. Let us sit around the table, explain, and we are going to find a common solution through dialogue and consultation.”

Rights activists in the North-West and South-West regions say there have been protests and strikes because the government has ignored discrimination and other grievances for many years and the situation has been getting worse.

Asked why protesters and rights activists had been jailed, Mr Tchiroma said they had been “caught red-handed, burning, looting, threatening people, maiming people”.

“The trial of all those who are in jail today will be open,” he said.

As part of its response to the protests and strikes, the government last month cut off the internet connection to the two regions concerned, although it has not explicitly acknowledged doing so.

When challenged about this, Mr Tchiroma said:

The internet is a marvellous tool [but] when you use this tool to incite hatred, political upheaval, riots, it is wrong. This unfortunately is what is being done.”

Rights activists have criticised the severing of the internet connection as collective punishment and a crude attempt to quell dissent.

By Africafrique and agencies

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