American lawmakers speak out on Cameroon as lawyer’s trial looms

By AT editor - 21 March 2017 at 5:31 am
American lawmakers speak out on Cameroon as lawyer’s trial looms

Two American lawmakers are the latest to raise their voices in concern over the escalating crisis in Cameroon and the impact on the Anglophone community.

Representatives André Carson and Jackie Walorski — both from the U.S. state of Indiana, but with vastly different political views from opposing parties — have issued statements calling for government accountability and an end to the political crisis.

Carson, a Muslim and African-American Democrat, is the outgoing chair of the Congressional Cameroon Caucus. As such, he is “deeply disturbed by the recent reports that protests over perceived marginalization of Cameroon’s Anglophone population have resulted in a harsh government crackdown.”

His statement notes that the lengthy Internet blackout in Anglophone regions harms the social and economic growth of the vibrant region. Any political repression under President Paul Biya is inconsistent with the shared goals of the U.S. and Cameroon, and the foreign aid that the latter receives to support economic development, security and democracy.

“As with all of our friends, we have an obligation to hold the Cameroonian government accountable when their actions suppress free expression and fail to protect minority populations,” Carson said.

Walorski, a Christian and conservative Republican, issued her statement in solidarity with the Cameroon diaspora she represents and on behalf of Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla. He is a graduate of University of Notre Dame, which is located in the region she represents in Congress, and was arrested in January as the leader of the now-banned Anglophone Civil Society Consortium.

“Respect for basic human rights is a key tenet of any democratic society and one which all countries must strive to achieve,” Walorski said in her statement. “It is critical that the government of Cameroon recognize and protect the rights of every citizen, regardless of background.”

Agbor-Balla, who has formerly served as a United Nations legal adviser in Afghanistan and Congo, faces treason and terrorism charges punishable by death. His trial, along with two others, is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

A new report from Africans Rising details the results of a fact-finding mission and offers insight into Cameroon’s political crisis.

Image: University of Notre Dame

 

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