Human Right Watch has accused Cameroon’s security forces of not having adequately protected civilians against elections threats posed by separatists in the crisis-hit North West and South West regions before and during the twin polls.
In its latest report, HRW says armed separatists targeted those willing to participate in the Legislative and Municipal elections, be it candidates, elections officials, activists or citizens.
“Armed separatists in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions kidnapped over 100 people, burned property, and threatened voters in the period before the February 9, 2020 elections.”
Rather than protecting civilians against these attacks, the Non-Governmental Organisation hints that government security forces in the regions, plus the seven hundred additional elements deployed ahead of the twin polls exposed them to more violence.
“Clashes between armed separatists and government forces, as well as between rival separatist factions, have resulted in civilian deaths, with people either killed deliberately or caught in the crossfire.” Part of the report reads.
It equally discloses that apart from that, the military itself became hostile to the population.
“Between January 17 and 20, 2020, security forces carried out a military operation in Bali, North-West region, destroying over 50 homes and killing several civilians, including two men with intellectual disabilities.”
According to the Organisation, this hostility plus Separatist imposed lockdown paralysed the turn out on the elections day as most civilians were afraid to receive stray bullets.
“Not all who wanted to cast their votes in these volatile regions in Cameroon were able to do so in peace and security, and it is incumbent on the government to hold accountable all those responsible for that from all parties,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said.