September 5, 2019
Cameroon’s opposition leader, Maurice Kamto says he is relishing the opportunity of taking on Cameroon’s government when he goes on trial in the country’s military court on Friday.
Kamto, who was the runner-up in last year’s presidential election is accused of insurrection, despite a chorus of international protest.
The charges against Kamto
Kamto, together with several dozen of his political allies and supporters, faces charges of insurrection, hostility to the motherland and rebellion, crimes which, in theory at least, could carry the death penalty.
The head of the opposition Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), and about 100 party supporters were arrested in late January.
The arrests came after several months of peaceful MRC protests over the October 2018 presidential election, which they say was rigged in favour of President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years.
The crackdown on the opposition caused outrage among rights groups and many western governments.
The trial goes ahead despite repeated protests from France, the United States and the European Union, who have been calling for his release from detention for eight months.
In March, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Tibor Nagy, told Radio France Internationale that Cameroon would be “very wise” to release Kamto because his detention is widely perceived as politically motivated.
Later the same month, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini criticised the arrests and what she called the military court’s “disproportionate” proceedings against them.
International rights groups have also condemned the action against Kamto and his colleagues, calling for their release.