Cameroon's opposition leader arrested amid resistance over election results

Maurice Kamto. / Internet photo

YAOUNDE, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cameroonian opposition leader, Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), was arrested late Monday amid resistance to the latest presidential election results.

Kamto and his aides were discussing matters at a private residence in the western city of Douala when police arrested them without producing warrant of arrest, Jean-Claude Wakam, a party official, told Xinhua.

"Other party members who were in hospital were pulled out of their sickbed and taken to the judicial police," he added.

Police sources confirmed to Xinhua the arrest, saying Kamto might be transported to the capital Yaounde where he will be detained.  Witnesses said there was heavy police presence in major junctions of Douala as party supporters threatened to protest the arrests.  "Policemen are everywhere. They are using water cannon and tear gas to dispel those who are threatening to demonstrate," said a witness who asked not to be named.

Cameroon's President Paul Biya was declared the winner with 71.28 percent of the vote in the Oct. 7 presidential election, but Kamto claimed that he won the vote, while official results showed he emerged as a distant second with 14.23 percent of the vote.  Kamto has since then announced what he called a "national resistance program" to compel Biya to step down.

On Saturday, Minister of Communication and Government Spokesman Rene Sadi said that police shot and wounded six people and arrested 117 in major cities where the CRM organized protests to denounce what it called "electoral hold up" and "useless war in Anglophone regions."

"The government strongly condemns this unacceptable maneuver to destabilize Cameroon under the false pretext of an alleged electoral hold up," Sadi said. Since 2017, separatist fighters in Cameroon have staged attacks in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions in protest of marginalization by the country's French-speaking majority.