A military court in Cameroon on Tuesday handed a life sentence to the head of the country’s anglophone separatist movement, Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, in a move that analysts said could inflame the 22-month-old revolt.
Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Ayuk Tabe, a charismatic leader widely deemed as a moderate in the separatist movement, was convicted with nine others of charges including “terrorism and secession”, the state’s lawyer, Martin Luther Achet, told AFP. They were given life terms. The sentences were confirmed by a lawyer for the separatists, Joseph Fru, who added the 10 had also been fined 250 billion CFA francs ($422 million, 381 million euros). Fru condemned what he called a “parody of justice” and said the defendants refused to recognise the right of the military tribunal in Yaounde to try them. Their lawyers have yet to say whether they will file an appeal. Ayuk Tabe, a 54-year-old computer engineer by training, is the first self-proclaimed president of “Ambazonia” — a breakaway state declared in October 2017 in two English-speaking regions of the central African country. The government responded with a military crackdown.
Attacks by both sides have left 1,850 dead, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, while the UN says 530,000 people have fled their homes. – Colonial legacy – English-speakers account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 24 million, who are majority French-speaking. Anglophones are mainly concentrated in two western areas, the Northwest Region and the Southwest Region, that were incorporated into the French-speaking state after the colonial era in Africa wound down six decades ago.