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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Cameroon’s Biya orders release of 333 detained separatists

The President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, has ordered the release of 333 prisoners who had been detained in connection with an Anglophone separatist rebellion.

A statement from the president said he had decided to stop their prosecution in the military courts.

It was read out by a government official at a major conference that is trying to resolve the conflict which over the last three years has left thousands dead and 500,000 people displaced.

The crisis started when lawyers and teachers went on strike over the use of French in courts and schools in the English-speaking North-West and South-West regions.

In October 2017, activists declared autonomy over the two regions – a move rejected by President Biya.

Some took up arms, resulting in violent clashes with government forces.

It is not clear if Mr Biya’s directive will free any detained senior separatist leaders.

Correspondents say the order is unlikely to appease the hard-line Anglophone rebels who – citing years of oppression – are insisting on the creation of a separate country called Ambazonia.

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