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Cameroon: Diverse Country In Central Africa

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Cameroon Tense On Anglophone 'Independence' Anniversary

Diverse and football-mad Cameroon is Central Africa’s biggest economy but troubled by mounting unrest in its disgruntled English-speaking regions, where there is a push to break away.

Here is some background about the mainly francophone country ahead of October 7 elections in which President Paul Biya – the second-longest serving leader in Africa – is seeking a seventh term.

 ‘Africa in miniature’ 

The Atlantic Ocean nation, which sits just above the Equator, has this nickname because its many ethnic groups and diverse geographic and climatic zones are said to make it representative of the continent.

At the end of World War I, the German protectorate of Kamerun split into French- and British-mandated regions. The French section became independent as Cameroon in 1960 and was later joined by a part of the British area, the remainder of which chose to unite with Nigeria.

The country’s name comes from that of one of its main rivers, which 15th century Portuguese explorers called the Rio dos Camaroes, or River of Prawns, and is today the Wouri.

Francophones are in a majority while anglophones represent around a fifth of its more than 23 million people.

The population is young: three-quarters were aged less than 25 in 2014, according to a census that year.

Biya, 36 years at the top 

In 1982 Cameroon’s ailing founding president, Ahmadou Ahidjo, stepped down in favour of his prime minister, Paul Biya. Nearly 36 years later, Biya is still in the job.

Aged in his mid-80s, he has a reputation for being tightly in control behind a smooth and discreet exterior.

He was able to extend his rule via a controversial 2008 constitutional revision that did away with limits on the number of terms a president can serve.

In Africa only Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been in power for longer, since 1979.

Anglophones seek secession

Cameroon’s English-speaking Northwest Region and Southwest Region have been in deep crisis since late 2016 as a secessionist movement pushes for independence.

It started with demonstrations, encouraged by English-speaking lawyers and teachers, to protest against perceived discrimination by the francophone majority.

Clashes between troops and separatists take place on an almost daily basis and have led to dozens of deaths and the displacement of nearly 200 000 people.

In October 2017 separatist leaders issued a symbolic declaration of independence for a new republic called “Ambazonia”.

Cameroon has also been confronted since 2009 with attacks in the far north by jihadists from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, but these have diminished over the past months.

 Economy diverse, too 

Cameroon has abundant commodities like oil, high value timber, minerals, coffee, cotton, cocoa and cassava.

It is the largest economy in the six-nation Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

In 2017 growth slowed to around 3.7%, due to the maturity of the main oil fields and to an avian flu epidemic, according to the World Bank.

It is expected to pick up in 2018 with new gas fields in operation and construction for its hosting of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Poverty is however rising, including because of rapid population growth, climbing by 12% between 2007 and 2014 to affect 8.1 million people, according to the World Bank.

Only one in 10 of the working population has an official job and a third of inhabitants live on less than two euros a day.

China is its biggest trading partner and foreign investor.

 Football felines 

Football is a near religion in Cameroon with the national team, Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions), considered among the best on the continent and winning the Africa Cup of Nations five times, including in 2017.

However its hosting of the 2019 tournament is in doubt because of delays in infrastructure construction, with a final decision due in November.

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Kenya Committed To Improving Aviation Infrastructure

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Kenya Committed To Improving Aviation Infrastructure

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta says the government is committed to improving the country’s civil aviation infrastructure.  He credited the industry with enhancing the country’s economy and national development.

He said at the eleventh forum of the international civil aviation organization air services negotiation meeting in Nairobi that the aviation industry contributes four tenths of a percent to the country’s gdp.  He also said the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi provides seventeen thousand direct and more than half a million indirect jobs.

Kenyatta said about eight in ten tourists visiting Kenya use air transport.

He said these are some of the reasons his government is committed to investing in aviation infrastructure to help the industry play its critical role in the economy.

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2 Persons Killed In Clash Between Security Forces And Protesters In Togo

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2 Persons Killed In Clash Between Security Forces And Protesters In Togo

At least two persons were reported killed in Togo over the weekend after security forces moved against protesters. Opposition has accused the government of using what it called “regime soldiers” it says opened fire on the demonstrators.

At least two persons were killed in clashes between Togo’s security forces and protesters.

Authorities reported finding a dead protester in Lome with an open wound in his left eye that indicated a bullet entry. Another dead body was also reported, this time with no bullet wounds.

The protests intensified after the government called for parliamentary elections to be held in late December.  Opposition is against the polls.  It has demanded reforms of the national electoral commission, and a two-term limit for presidents.

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Cameroon Law Graduates-Turn-Musicians Sing For Peace

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Cameroon Law Graduates-Turn-Musicians Sing For Peace

Two Cameroonian Law graduates, who are now musicians, have been traveling through the country’s English-speaking regions singing messages of peace they believe will touch the rebels and help end the separatist conflict there.

The singers started their group in October when they both lost family members and friend in the secessionist struggle in the English-speaking regions.

The duo sing in both English and French reminding people about the grave repercussions of war, and urging all sides to embrace peace.

The conflict has claimed hundreds of civilian lives. Thousands have been internally displaced, and thousands more have fled, many to neighboring Nigeria.

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