Maurice Kamto, Cameroon’s prominent opposition leader, alleged that he is under “de facto” house arrest.
Kamto says he has been forced to spend the past week at his residence surrounded by riot police.
“From reliable sources, the Cameroonian government has decided to launch, this Monday, September 28, 2020, an “assault” against my residence where I have been held hostage since the 20th by forces equipped with an arsenal worthy of theaters of war,” Kamto’s official Twitter account reads.
“Our time has undoubtedly come to face once again the state violence of an outdated regime. Arbitrariness and barbarism cannot overcome the determination of the Cameroonian populations to free themselves from tyranny.”
Authorities have responded to the allegations, maintaining that Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement party (CRM) is being investigated for attempts to destabilize the country following last week’s anti-government protests. Hundreds were arrested at the demonstrations.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior central African researcher for Human Rights Watch, has accused Cameroon of violating its citizens’ fundamental rights.
“This follows a well-documented pattern of politically motivated arrests and prosecutions and also threats to crush opposition parties and silence dissent,” Allegrozzi said. “It is a step backwards for Cameroon and authorities should immediately end the crackdown and release all those who have been unjustly imprisoned since the demonstration of September 22nd.”
This is not the first time Kamto has been placed under arrest by the government for inciting protests.
In 2019, he spent nine months in prison after being arrested for leading protests against an election outcome he had condemned as fraudulent.
Kamto had been put on trial for insurrection, hostility to the motherland, and rebellion. If found guilty, Kamto could have faced the death penalty.
President Paul Biya ordered prosecutions to be dropped against “some” opposition members who had been “arrested and detained for acts committed in contesting the results of the recent presidential elections.”