Cameroon’s government has banned the sale of weapons in six of the country’s regions, including the troubled Anglophone areas and those adjacent to them.
Paul Atanga Nji, the Permanent Secretary of the National Security Council and Minister of Territorial Administration, said the sale of weapons for hunting and self-defense, as well as ammunition, are prohibited until further notice in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions.
The ban also extends to West, Adamawa, Center and Littoral.
The reason, the minister said, is because the illegal circulation of firearms has grown to pose a real threat to public order. The number of weapons is higher than the authorized total and includes homemade weapons. The situation is made worse by the failure of some armories to keep track of their weapons through the required digital and physical processes, he said.
A comprehensive inventory of weapons and ammunition has been ordered in the six regions, where armories are ordered closed until further notice.
Results of legislative elections, announced on Thursday, showed overwhelming ruling-party wins in nine of 10 regions of Cameroon, for 63 of the 70 seats, which may add to the country’s tensions.
The ban comes amid violence in Anglophone areas, so named because of the language and cultural divisions dating to the colonial era. Peaceful protests among lawyers and teachers that first began in October 2016 evolved into some Anglophone separatists’ renewed call for an Ambazonian breakaway state.
President Paul Biya responded with arrests, Internet shutdowns and a violent crackdown on Anglophone activists; all Anglophone organizations were banned in January 2017 and at least 100 people have been killed with many more detained.
The violence in March reflects the trend in recent month toward conflict between armed separatists and Cameroon’s security forces. Gendarmes were reported killed in the Northwest’s Batibo and the Southwest’s Nguti, Badje and Konye, among separatist deaths and other incidents reported by the International Crisis Group.
Image: Federal Republic of Ambizonia