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  • Maurice Kamto, presidential candidate of the Renaissance Movement (MRC), during a news conference at his headquarters in the capital, Yaounde, Cameroon Oct. 8, 2018.

    Maurice Kamto, presidential candidate of the Renaissance Movement (MRC), during a news conference at his headquarters in the capital, Yaounde, Cameroon Oct. 8, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 January 2019

Dozens participated in rare protests which security forces dispersed with live ammunition. Six people were injured.

Cameroonian authorities arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto Monday, according to his lawyer, after weekend protests in which security forces dispersed demonstrators with live bullets, wounding six people.

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Kamto has been mobilizing dissent against President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years, since winning a majority vote in conflictual elections last October. Elections were fraught with armed clashes as security forces battled activists and dissenters, and indiscriminately used lethal force on civilians, as well as on Ambazonia separatists, who blockaded streets in the western Anglophone region days ahead of voting.

Protests are rare in Cameroon outside of the troubled Anglophone region, and tend to be swiftly put down by force and mass arrests.

"I can confirm that professor Maurice Kamto was arrested (today)," his lawyer, Agbor Bala, told Reuters, adding that it was due to the weekend protests in which dozens participated. The treasurer of his Cameroon Renaissance Movement party, Alain Fogue, was also detained, Bala said.

Kamto declared himself winner at the time of the poll and has since challenged Biya's win in the African Union court. Biya's cohort have denied all allegations of electoral fraud.

Biya, 85, is the oldest leader in sub-Saharan Africa. Most Cameroonians have known only him as president. He holds cabinet meetings only every few years and spends a lot of his time on private trips to Switzerland, Reuters reported. However, the opposition has been unable to mount a credible challenge to him.

The election cemented Biya as one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, but allegations of ballot stuffing and intimidation soured his victory, and turnout was low because of a secessionist uprising in the Anglophone regions in which hundreds have died as Cameroonian forces sought to suppress it.

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