After violent snub last year, PM Yang ventures into NW this week
By Elah Geoffrey Mbongale
Prime minister and Head of Government, Philemon Yang will be going on a week-long mission to the Northwest region where he will hold working sessions with education stakeholders in continuation of governments efforts to ensure the effective resumption of schools in the English speaking regions of the country.
PM Yan’s visit comes months after a violent snub that greeted his last visit to the region when protesters blocked a CPDM rally that was to be chaired by the Secretary General of the CPDM party, Jean Nkuete.
Officers reportedly shot dead four protesters and wounded 20 others as hostilities tarried into twilight. Officials say about eight security forces were wounded.
The population was angered by Minister Atanga Nji’s denial of the existence of an Anglophone problem and the holding a political rally and march which they say was to propagate the unitary ideologies of the Biya Government.
Despite rumour circulated that the rally and the match was going to be disrupted, CPDM party officials insisted on holding the event by decorating the ceremonial grandstand at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue.
Even the heavy military and police presence could not guarantee the holding of the rally at the city centre.
CPDM party officials from Yaoundé were blocked in hotels in the City by the protest in town. Prime Minister Philemon Yang, CPDM Scribe Jean Nkuete, Special Duties Minister at the Presidency Paul Atanga Nji were among several government functionaries and politicians blocked at Ayaba Hotel.
Youths paraded the streets with the remains of the dead, tyres burnt, anti riot police fired teargas, and shot sporadically, military helicopters hovered over the city throwing teargas and shooting at every gathering.
Several cars belonging to both military and private individuals were reportedly burnt and destroyed as circulation of both public and private transportation was stalled by the angry protesters.
Major streets were blocked with barricades with the intention of preventing CPDM militants from coming into town for the march. Pictures showed the 3rd district police station set ablaze.
The protest was organised 57days into a strike called by Common Law Lawyers to decry the suppressive use of French over English in courts in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
It was also the second week students and classrooms have gone without teachers who are were on strike demanding the total liberation of the Anglo-Saxon system of education characteristic of the North West and South West.
Initially scheduled to start at 1pm at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue, the rally of the ruling CPDM eventually held at about 6pm at Ayaba Hotel.
Images of the event on state TV showed fewer than 100 persons in attendance. Protesters had blocked many members and sympathisers of the party. Those who dared were undressed and the party regalia burnt.
Addressing a visibly tensed audience, the Prime Minister and Head of the Regional Office of the CPDM said peace was essential for any meaningful growth. He called on teachers to return to the classrooms, given that government has opened dialogue to seek solutions to their grievances.
The ruling party meeting was seen by protesters as a provocation, but Jean Nkuete assured CPDM members and supporters that their grievances will be presented to the party’s national chairman, President Paul Biya.