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Tchiroma Praises Troops For ‘Professionally’ Suppressing B’da, Buea Crises 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

Issa Tchiroma Bakary

Issa Tchiroma Bakary

The strike actions in Bamenda and Buea were handled with professionalism, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Minister of Communication, has said.

“With respect to security, administrative and law enforcement officers handled the demonstration in Bamenda and Buea with restraint and professionalism, in strict compliance with the international laws and commitments of Cameroon in matters of human rights,” Tchiroma said at a press conference in Yaoundé on December 2.

This statement could be regarded as a pat on the backs of security forces and the administrative authorities who helped to clamp down on protesters in the two regional capitals of the Southwest and Northwest Regions.

The Communication Minister, however, stated that investigations are underway and any proven misconduct will be punished by the government.

Tchiroma was also speaking on the heels of a statement by the US Department of State condemning human rights violations committed on peaceful demonstrators in Bamenda and Buea.

Against the backdrop of the criticisms, President Biya received the US Ambassador to Cameroon, H.E. Michael Hoza in audience last week.

In a declaration after the audience, the Ambassador recommended dialogue to resolve the problems raised by lawyers and teachers of the former British Southern Cameroons as well as those tabled by the University of Buea students.

At the press outing, which many observers say was meant to downplay the statement by the US State Department, Tchiroma talked of the efforts government is making for dialogue and cohesion as well as measures taken so far to resolve the grievances raised by the Anglophone lawyers, teachers and the students.

“In a nutshell, Cameroon reiterates that in any rule of law, it is the primary responsibility of public authorities to ensure the respect of order and security.

The exercise by citizens of their rights, such as the right to go on strike, is done in compliance with the provisions laid down by the law.

At this level, the action of law enforcement officers should not be considered on the same footing as persons who willfully infringe the law and go around assaulting citizens, looting private and public properties,” Tchiroma stated.

The Minister underscored that the law enforcement officers were on many occasions assaulted.

“The culprits of such acts are exposed to legal proceedings before the courts and would be punished appropriately.

“With regard to the balance sheet of the recent social unrest in Bamenda, the government of Cameroon regrets the toll of some twenty injured and one death, a security guard who was killed by vandals using a locally made rifle, amid the prevailing security context.

This murder is similar to the one perpetrated a few weeks ago against a gendarme in Bangolan with a locally made rifle.

The Cameroonian government strongly condemns such heinous actions, which will not remain unpunished,” Tchiroma intimated.

The government spokesman argued that the forces of law and order are being unjustly accused of committing atrocities, whereas assaults against the said forces including the killing of a gendarme is simply going unreported.

Boko Haram False Alarm

He equally debunked claims by the US Department of State’s statement that a ten-year prison sentence was inflicted on some young people for exchanging text messages about Boko Haram. Tchiroma said two of the three accused were released while the third, who was slammed 11 months imprisonment term on February 22, 2016 for spreading false news, was also set free.

In the same vein, he said some militants of a political party who were arrested and mentioned in the statement by the US Department of State, were also released after identification.

Tchiroma also used the press conference to condemn the malicious use of social media in disseminating false information as well as the manipulation of minds, noting that the perpetrators who would be found guilty shall be appropriately punished in accordance with the regulations in force.

He talked of Cameroon’s commitment to ensure its sovereign duty to maintain public order, warning that “no attempt to disrupt our hard-won national unity and cohesion and our territorial integrity shall be tolerated.”

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