Hundreds of Cameroonians currently running out of the North West and South West ahead of Sunday elections.
BAMENDA, CAMEROON – Economic activity in Northwest and Southwest Cameroon is at a standstill. Separatist fighters have imposed a travel ban and lock down, and vowed that both local and parliamentary elections set for Sunday will not take place. Civilians are for the opinion that the government cannot protect them from separatist fighters. The believe so because separatists have been kidnapping people, election officials and even the military.
Peter Nanji, a 54-year-old teacher, is driving out of Bamenda with his wife and three children. He says he is escaping to the town of Bafoussam some 90 kilometers away because his neighborhood, Ekata, was attacked by Cameroon’s military on Thursday morning.
“The military suspects that Ekata is a stronghold for the separatist fighters that is why they attacked and killed indiscriminately so as we speak, the area is deserted,” he said.
Nanji said at least nine people including his landlord were killed.
Meanwhile, , a 32-year-old trader Noela Dymba, has been waiting for a bus to leave Bamenda. She previously fled from the town of Bafut following heavy clashes between the military and separatist fighters.
“As election day is approaching, the violence is increasing. Government on its side is deploying more military in the Northwest and Southwest regions and so there is uncertainty,” she narrated.
Most towns and villages in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions have become increasingly deserted since the first week in January, when the military launched what it called severe attacks on separatist forces.
The separatists have been active too, torching public buildings, including those of the elections management body ELECAM.
Campaign caravans have been attacked on several occasions and the opposition Social Democratic Front and the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement say at least 80 of their supporters and candidates were abducted. The whereabouts of 60 others is unknown.
Separatists have claimed responsibility but promised to release the captives after the polls.