Cameroon has a new military region created to cater for security needs in the west and northwest region, the state-owned CRTV has reported.
President Paul Biya signed directives reorganizing the country’s defense forces leading to the splitting into two of the former military region [Région militaire interarmées – RMIA] RMIA 2 which is based in Douala.
The new region becomes the fifth (RMIA 5) and is headquarted in capital of the northwest region Bamenda. It is to be headed by General Agha Robinson Ndong while General Julius Caesar Ellie has been appointed commander of its Gendarmerie region (RG5).
The measure is seen as a clear plan to deal with the raging Anglophone crisis that has rocked the country since October 2017. Separatists in the region continue to engage in deadly clashes with security forces.
Under the banner of the so-called Ambazonia republic, separatists are pushing a breakaway of the Anglophone regions (northwest and southwest) from French-majority Cameroon.
The government has insisted that the region remains secured and has declared the separatists terrorists. Last month, Nigeria deported about 47 separatists to Yaounde, the deportees included a known separatist leader, Julius Sisuku Ayuk Tabe.
Nigeria has also been bearing the brunt of the crisis in Cameroon with the continuing influx of refugees. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has reported that thousands of people have arrived in Nigeria over the past few months.
Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis
What began in 2017 as peaceful protests by Anglophone activists against perceived marginalization by Cameroon’s Francophone-dominated elite has become the gravest challenge yet to President Paul Biya, who is expected to seek to renew his 35-years in power in an election next year.
Government repression – including ordering thousands of villagers in the Anglophone southwest to leave their homes – has driven support for a once-fringe secessionist movement, stoking a lethal cycle of violence.
The secessionists declared an independent state called Ambazonia on Oct. 1. Since then, thousands have fled to Nigeria, including 2,300 who fled in a single day on Dec. 4 fearing government reprisals after raids by separatists militants killed at least six soldiers and police officers.
At the end of World War One, Germany’s colony of Kamerun was carved up between allied French and British victors, laying down the basis for a language split that still persists.
English speakers make up less than a fifth of the population of Cameroon, concentrated in former British territory near the Nigerian border that was joined to the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon the year after its independence in 1960. French speakers have dominated the country’s politics since.