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Cameroon Rebels Vow to Disrupt March 12 Polls

FILE - Cameroon elections management body, ELECAM officials encourage the population to register in Bafoussam, Jan. 5 2018.

Cameroonian authorities Friday reported the death of two electoral officials in Bamenda who were killed by rebels after they vowed to disrupt the West African nation’s senate elections that are scheduled for March 12.

Cameroonian military authorities Friday took to the streets of Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, to search for evidence linked to the murder of two electoral members of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM.

While speaking to media, military sources confirmed that they found the body of Gilbert Yufela Tateng, the district chairman of ELECAM in Jakiri town on Thursday morning and added that he was shot dead the previous night.

ELECAM authorities said John Fai, their official tasked with organizing elections in Momo, an administrative unit in the Northwest region, was also killed on Thursday and added that both members were murdered by separatists.

Capo Daniel, the spokesperson and deputy defense chief of the separatist Ambazonia Defense Forces said Tateng and Fai lost their lives because they defied separatists’ orders.

“The officials of Cameroon that were charged to conduct such elections will be hunted by our forces for charges of enabling colonialism,” said Daniel.

“Two officials of ELECAM have already suffered the fate for collaborating with an enemy state to enforce its laws on our people,” added the separatist spokesperson.

In response to separatist threats, ELECAM’s chairperson Enow Abrams Egbe addressed a news conference this week where he announced that the elections will be continuing as scheduled and that security has been improved to prevent any disruptions.

“We must be ready to meet the challenges ahead, and in so doing, bring our efficient contributions to the peace building process, dialogue and national cohesion in our dear and beautiful country,” said Egbe.

“Our vision and ambition is to increase voter turnout and preserve citizen’s rights to vote as a guarantee for the inclusive and universally accepted electoral process in our country,” added ELECAM’s chairperson.

Experts say conflict in western Cameroon was launched in 2017 by the English-speaking separatists after alleging that they were experiencing discrimination at the hands of the French speaking majority.

Experts add that the conflict between the two sides has resulted in the death of over 3,500 people and the displacement of over half a million.

Lawrence Tangwa, a councilor in Bui, an administrative unit where Jakiri is located, said conflict should not disturb the electoral process.

“I know that there are threats quite alright, but it is the right of the state to protect citizens and property,” said Tangwa.

“It is a civic responsibility to take part in elections because it is your own way that you participate in local development because if you’re not there to choose the persons that will lead you, certainly people will make wrong choices for you and I think that they (voters and candidates) are all mobilizing towards the 12th of March,” added the Bui concilor.