Yaoundé – Cameroon President Paul Biya, 85, of whom 36 in power, acknowledged Tuesday during his oath-taking "frustrations and aspirations" in the English-speaking zone, a ceremony followed by the dispersal of a rally of opponents in Yaounde .
This is the first time since the outbreak of this conflict that President Paul Biya also clearly recognizes the difficulties faced by residents in the English-speaking area where 79 students were kidnapped Monday by separatists.
"I carefully examined the frustrations and aspirations of the vast majority of our compatriotsin the English-speaking regions of North West and South West, he assured, before promising thatmany answers"will be brought there"as part of the acceleration of the ongoing decentralization process".
Paul Biya, who is entering a seventh term, said hethe intimate conviction that the overwhelming majority (Cameroonians from the English-speaking regions) aspire to quickly find peace in the national community".
Denouncing the "extremist yoke that reigns terror and desolation" and the "war contractors"he called the armed separatists to"lay down the weapons and find the right path".
Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, opponent Maurice Kamto, who claims victory in the presidential election on 7 October, spoke on the street in front of several dozen activists in Yaoundé, reiterating that he was "the elected president".
Mr Kamto, who came in second with 14.23% of votes against 71.28% to Paul Biya, asked the international community to recount the votes.
A strong deployment of security forces dispersed the rally, and a helicopter from the security forces flew over the roundabout where he spoke. Activists were taken away in a police car, according to a cadre of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC), party of Maurice Kamto.
– In "surviving residence"-
Mr. Kamto was in the early afternoon at his home in Yaounde surrounded by "full of gendarmes"according to the MRC framework."He is placed under house arrest"said Paul-Eric Kingue, former campaign manager of Mr. Kamto.
Paul Biya, dressed in a dark suit and tie, took an oath before the deputies and the constituted bodies gathered at the National Assembly of Yaounde.
The ceremony was held in the wake of the kidnapping of 82 people – including 79 students – in Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking region of the North West, which, along with the south-west, has been plagued by armed conflict for a long time. between separatists and the armed forces.
Searches were still ongoing on Tuesday to find them in the area, where traffic was restricted by the governor.
In a video authenticated Tuesday by AFP, 11 students claim to have been kidnapped by the "Amba Boys", the separatists.
"My sister's child was kidnapped at the PSS (Presbyterian Secondary School in Nkwen, where the kidnapping took place). I am very worried about his safety. Her mother is crying since she learned it", told AFP the aunt of one of the 79 students.
– One year of armed conflict –
In the Northwest, in addition to kidnapping students, a sub-prefect was also removed on Sunday.
In the two English-speaking regions of the North-West and South-West, an unprecedented socio-political crisis took hold at the end of 2016, which turned into armed conflict at the end of 2017.
Clashes between the army and separatists, operating in scattered groups in the equatorial forest, have been happening there almost every day for several months.
The separatists have declared a boycott of schools, believing that the French school system marginalizes English-speaking students.
Since the announcement of the re-election of President Paul Biya, the situation in these regions has deteriorated, as the political climate, dozens of opponents have been arrested and journalists arrested.
On 30 October, an American missionary was shot dead in his vehicle in Bambui, a suburb of Bamenda.
In anticipation of possible unrest that may have occurred during the oath of Mr. Biya, police and gendarmes have been deployed for several days in several neighborhoods of Yaounde and other cities.
The day of Tuesday was decreed holiday in Cameroon.
On Sunday, 38 MRC activists were arrested in Bafoussam (West) while participating in a peaceful march against the "election hold-up"in favor of President Biya.
More than 60 others, including lawyers, had already been arrested before being released in Douala (south) and Yaoundé, but several were charged.