More than 150 people have been charged with “hostility to the homeland” and “insurrection” for their role in anti-government protests in Cameroon, the vice-president of the country’s main opposition party said.
The president of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) opposition party, Maurice Kamto, was among those charged on Wednesday in a crackdown criticised by human rights campaigners.
He and around 150 other people were arrested in late January and have been held for nearly three weeks by police in the capital Yaounde.
They have gone before a judge in groups, starting with Kamto overnight Tuesday to Wednesday. He was charged with “rebellion, insurrection” and “hostility to the country”.
Around twenty of those detained have been released on bail, MRC’s vice-president Emmanuel Simh told AFP.
“Hostility to the country” is punishable by the death penalty in theory, but the penalty has not been carried out in Cameroon for more than 30 years.
Maurice Kamto says he was cheated out of the presidency in last October’s elections, when Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, 86, was re-elected for a seventh term.
Around 200 people were arrested in subsequent protests, the MRC said.
Amnesty International said the wave of detentions “signals an escalating crackdown on opposition leaders, human rights defenders and activists.”