Cameroon MPs pass devolution bill for anglophone regions

Demonstrators take to the streets in English-speaking parts of Cameroon in September 2017 to protest perceived discrimination in favour of the country's francophone majority. A bill granting special status to Cameroon's two anglophone regions was passed by lawmakers on December 18, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Demonstrators take to the streets in English-speaking parts of Cameroon in September 2017 to protest perceived discrimination in favour of the country’s francophone majority. A bill granting special status to Cameroon’s two anglophone regions was passed by lawmakers on December 18, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A bill granting special status to Cameroon’s two anglophone regions was passed by lawmakers on Wednesday, national radio said, an attempt to ease two years of bloody violence.

If the Senate approves the devolution law and it comes into force, the western areas where separatists are fighting government troops will be able to develop their own education and justice policies, it said.

Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest Regions are home to most of the country’s English speakers, who account for about a fifth of a population that is overwhelmingly French-speaking.

Decades of resentment at perceived discrimination have boiled over into an armed campaign for independence that has been met with a brutal crackdown.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in violence by both sides and around 600,000 people have fled their homes, the International Crisis Group has estimated.

Cameroon has called parliamentary and municipal polls for February 2020, two years after Biya’s disputed re-election triggered a major crisis.