A military tribunal in Yaounde has jailed dozens of opposition supporters for up to seven years on charges of “rebellion”, their party’s deputy secretary general said Monday.
The 47 defendants were arrested in September 2020 ahead of Maurice Kamto’s Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) and several other parties planned demonstrations against Paul Biya’s hold on power for nearly 40 years in the central African country.
MRC said 124 of its members remain in custody since security officers dispersed hundreds of protesters in the economic capital Douala and arrested about 500 people across the country.
The military tribunal sentenced 47 activists, with Kamto’s spokesman Olivier Bibou Nissack and the party’s treasurer Alain Fogue getting seven-year terms. The rest were given terms of between one and five years.
According to MRC vice president Emmanuel Simh, the charges included “rebellion” and “attempted insurrection”
In September, a group of around 50 lawyers said they would not mount a defence for around 100 detained opposition members, denouncing what they described as the arbitrary and illegal nature of their imprisonment.
Kamto, opposition arrowhead and runner up to President Paul Biya in a 2018 presidential election was imprisoned in January 2019 following a march protesting the vote during which he presented himself as “president-elect”.
Following international pressure, Biya ordered him freed after nine months. The government has said that those detained since September 2020 face charges of “attempted insurrection” or “revolution”.
Two months after their arrest, Amnesty International accused the Biya government of “relentless repression of opposition” members characterised by “arbitrary arrests and detentions”.
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