Source: www.africanakua.com|Mafany Tande Myles, Cameroon
Regular general strikes (so-called “ghost town” protests) have been ongoing for two years every Monday in much of Cameroon’s English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions, including Buea.
During the ghost town protests, shops and businesses are closed, roads are empty, and police patrols are reinforced. Local inhabitants in support of the ghost towns assert that it is a form of non-violent resistance against the government and in favor of secession.
However, some hardline militants have come out against this strategy as insufficient and are advocating for a blockade of the Buea-Douala road (a main artery for the transportation of oil) to force the government to react.
Buea’s mayor has previously attempted to put an end to the ghost town actions, including by threatening punitive measures (notably shutting businesses that observe the strike) and deploying armed forces to advise residents to go about their business as usual on Mondays. However, these efforts have largely gone unheeded.
Tensions between the country’s minority English-speaking communities and national authorities in the two Anglophone regions remain high.
The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of all English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, occasional week-long ghost towns, and sporadic violence.
These tensions have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. Armed separatists in English-speaking regions of Cameroon have killed soldiers and police since October, and vice versa. The fighting has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee over the border into Nigeria.
Due to ongoing sociopolitical violence, individuals in the Northwest and Southwest regions are advised to closely monitor the situation, obey all instructions issued by the local authorities (particularly curfews), and avoid protests or large gatherings due to the risk of associated violence.