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Parliament examines law that would prevent soldiers from protesting

Cameroonian soldiers in a street protest, in 2015

A new bill intended to stop soldiers from carrying out street protests has been tabled in parliament for examination. If adopted and promulgated by the Head of State, soldiers would be liable to severe sanctions when they take part in or organise street protests.

The bill, we gathered, will be defended in parliament by Joseph Beti Assomo, minister delegate at the presidency in charge of defence. He will defend the bill before the national assembly’s commission for defence and national security.

Major provisions of the bill presented in the guise of an update of incrimination dispositions to meet recent in actions of the military, focus on sanctions and indiscipline. The provisions prescribes sanctions ranging between six months and 10 years imprisonment against diverse forms of insubordination and riots. In cases where soldiers disrespect orders in the presence of “the enemy”, the bill suggests such soldiers will be imprisoned for life.

It should be recalled that the bill which could become law by the end of the ongoing June session of parliament comes at the time when soldiers have overtly expressed their discontent with the state by taking to the streets.

The minister delegate at the presidency in charge of defence recently sanctioned 30 soldiers of the Joint Multinational Task Force fighting against Boko Haram. The soldiers were sanctioned for carrying out a street protest during which they blocked a road and obstructed traffic in a Boko Haram- attack-prone locality in Cameroon’s Far North region. The soldiers, we gathered were protesting against non-payment of bonuses.

The recent case was however not the first of its kind. Similarly some 200 soldiers carried out a street protest in Yaounde in 2015. They marched on the central town in protest of non-payment of bonuses of about 6billion FCFA.

Published on 05.05.2023

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