Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has said his government will listen to the demands of the people and negotiate if the requests are legitimate.
The president’s statement was posted on the social media pages of the presidency on Thursday amid strikes and protests usually met with violence by security forces.
“Provided dissent and demands are expressed within the framework of the law, we shall listen, and through the path of negotiation, we shall accede, to the fullest extent possible, to those requests that are legitimate,” the statement said.
“I believe social dialogue is a necessity. And so, we shall not silence those who do not share our points of view on how the country should be run. And we reject the use of force as a means of political action, as is sometimes the case elsewhere, as we have recently seen,” it added.
We shall not silence those who do not share our points of view on how the country should be run. And we reject the use of force as a means of political action.
This comes ahead of the third strike of medical doctors to be held between June 12 to 14 for better working conditions and improved wages.
Doctors union SYMEC started a two-day monthly strike nationwide since April leaving patients without critical care in hospitals.
They are demanding for a review of their salaries and bonuses, insurance allowance, speedy integration into the public service and increase in retirement age from 55 to 65 years.
These were not met after a meeting with the health minister Andre mama Fouda in January.
The Cameroonian government rather cautioned the doctors against striking which they described as illegal.
Andre mama Fouda said ahead of the first strike that the doctors union was not registered and their strike was not authorized.
Immediately after the earlier strike action, the leaders of the union were reportedly transferred by the government to rural areas.
The leader of the doctors union Pierre Yves Bassong was also banned from appearing on public television by the government, local media report.
PierreYves Bassong:chair of Cameroon Medical Doctors Trade Union,abbreviated:SYMEChas been banned twice by govt from taking in TV programmes— ELIE SMITH (@eliesmith) May 14, 2017
The doctors had received some support from politicians and the general public as they embark on the action.
“Doctors standing up for Cameroon, we must stand with them! … It’s essential for us citizens to support doctors in this initiative for a better health system in Cameroon,” political activist Kah Walla had said in April.
Doctors Standing Up For Cameroon, We Must Stand With Them!Tomorrow begins 2nd round of strike days for Cameroonian doctors. #CameroonDoctors— Kah Walla (@KahWalla) May 14, 2017
The country also faced a renewed series of protests last year in the southwest Anglophone regions that turned violent.
Anglophone teachers, lawyers and students were beaten and intimidated by the security forces during peaceful protests over alleged marginalization by imposing the French language on their schools and courts.
Anglophone journalists also condemned a government order banning all radio and television discussions on the political situation in the region.
President Biya subsequently signed a decree establishing the National Commission of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism to solve the matter.
Many activists, however, call for the establishment of a two-state federation.