Cameroon wakes up to calm

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Life is slowly going back to normal in Cameroon, four days after the urban transport strike which led to violent clashes leaving several people dead. Today, Friday, taxis have gone back to work in the capital, Yaoundé, which still bears vivid memories of the violent demonstrations that took place on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, president Paul Biya intervened in settling the crises, warning that the government will do everything in its power to counter lawlessness. He also accused the opposition for using the strike action for political purposes.

Defence forces are still strategically positioned in the capital, and although most gas stations are out of petrol, they have been put under high surveillance.

The demands of the transport union for a lowering of petroleum prices should be met as soon as gas stations get new supplies. The government reversed its decision to increase petroleum prices on Tuesday. The new prices are as follow: Petrol from 600 FCFA to 594 FCFA, Diesel from 500 francs to 445 francs and Lamp oil from 400 francs to 375 francs.

Cameroonian political analysts believe that this unrest symbolises a serious warning to the Paul Biya’s regime which is rendered almost powerless by popular demands in particular this week’s strike action, following his announcement early this year of his decision to revise the constitution to enable him stand for a third term in office in 2011, after 25 years in power.

Young people who got involved in the strike action organised by the transport union to voice out their dissatisfaction were the main victims of police, military and gandarme brutality. Real bullets were even used during the demonstration.

Death toll from independent sources is estimated at 17.

The authorities who widely condemned the manner in which the strike action was conducted have accepted the legitimacy of the demands and are working on how to address the issue through social dialogues as promised by the president, Paul Biya.

With Panapress

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