About thirty Cameroonian soldiers engaged in the fight against insurgent group, Boko Haram, have been arrested and sent to the capital, Yaounde.
The Ministry of Defence told AFP news agency that the soldiers will be put before a judicial enquiry for obstructing free flow of vehicles in the Far North region where they were stationed.
The soldiers are part of the Joint Multinational Taskforce combating Boko Haram activities in the Lake Chad region. Their protests which started over the weekend was in demand for payment of bonuses and relief from the forefront.
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.
A Ministry statement quoted by AFP however noted that “Traffic has been restored,’‘ to areas in the Zigue locality in the Far North region.
The Ministry also clarified that soldiers engaged in the anti – Boko Haram fight were not entitled to bonuses like that of their colleague on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. That was at the heart of the soldiers demands.
Boko Haram, despite starting in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State continues to threaten the entire Lake Chad region. Cameroon’s Far North, parts of Chad, Niger have all been affected leading to the formation of a multinational force to fight the group.
Like Cameroon, Nigerian soldiers also recently raised issues with their working conditions on the front lines, but this is the first time a section of Cameroonian soldiers have openly shown their disgust.
The Joint Multinational Force in charge of fighting Boko Haram, has 10,000 soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger.
Their arrest comes days after President Paul Biya 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 last 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.