A Cameroonian military tribunal has imprisoned dozens of opposition supporters for terms of up to seven years for “rebellion“, their party’s deputy Secretary General has said.
The 47 were nabbed in September 2020 as Maurice Kamto’s Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) and several other parties set up protests against the government of Paul Biya, who was in power for almost four decades in the central African country.
According to MRC, police dispersed hundreds of protesters in the economic capital Douala and arrested over 500 people countrywide. Out of the number, 124 remain in detention.
The tribunal based in the capital Yaounde sentenced 47 activists, including Kamto’s mouthpiece Bibou Nissack and the party’s treasurer Alain Fogue who were slapped with seven-year terms, Roger Noah told AFP.
All the others were handed terms of between one and five years, he added.
The MRC vice president Emmanuel Simh said the preferred charges included “rebellion” and “attempted insurrection“.
Three months ago, some 50 lawyers said they would not mount a defence for about 100 detained opposition members, denouncing what they described as the arbitrary and illegal nature of their detention.
In January 2019, Kamto — the runner-up to Biya in a 2018 presidential election — was imprisoned following a march protesting the vote during which he presented himself as “president-elect”.
International pressure pushed Biya into freeing Kamto.
According to the state, those held since September 2020 face charges of “attempted insurrection” or “revolution”. Some have already been found guilty.
Two months into the arrest, Amnesty International accused the Biya government of “relentless repression of opposition” members characterized by “arbitrary arrests and detentions“.