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Cameroon riots turn political
The violent protests, following an urban transport strike, sparked by a rise in petrol prices as well as the high cost of living has entered a fourth day. Fears of opposion and partisan clashes have been raised as Yaoundé, spared earlier by the violent demonstrations that had rocked Douala, was also caught up in the melee. The protests seem unstoppable a day after the transport union called off thier strike.
Twelve people were killed in Douala when the protests broke out while Yaoundé reported two deaths yesterday. In a bbc report Thursday, at least 2000 school children were reported being used as human shields in Bamenda by demonstrators escaping police pursuits after they burnt down two post offices. Shops and gas stations have stayed closed as clashes between civilians and law enforcement agencies continue. It is also reported that students have been blocked in schools as they are unable to go back home due to the transport strike.
The opposition which had planned to protest a constitutional amendment which favours a third term representation by Paul Biya in the next presidential election in 2011, postponed their protest march following the clashes after two protestors were killed when the police opened fire last Saturday during a political meeting organised by the Social Democratic Front.
Afrik-news.com’s Falila Gbadamassi reports that in his address to the nation, the Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, condemned “the strike which has been coined for political purposes” qualifying the reason behind it as the manoeuverings of those who wish to obtain “what they lost at the ballot”. He condemned the opposition for exposing young lives to the perils of violent clashes.
Agence France Presse, reports a molestation of students by police and military forces, after the president’s address, in which some students were wounded and others had their rooms overturned.
Mr Paul Heutching a political analyst and author based in Paris said "I understand that unfortunate young people whose futures remain bleak are the guns of war in this whole affair. They are the ones confronting the forces of law because they have nothing to lose”.
He expressed his views on how hopeless an opposition struggle would be without a marked plan against a regime that has been in power for over 25 years. “they are headed for failure without a clearcut strategy”. “the ruling party rewarded itself with a 2/3 majority in the parliament, giving itself the right to constitutional reforms. The opposition should have reacted earlier” Mr Paul Heutching, thinks that the opposition’s move is late and might not yield much results.