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18 Dec 2019 | 04:57 AM UTC

Cameroon: At least 40 legislative candidates kidnapped in Northwest region December 9-16

Separatist fighters in western Cameroon abduct at least 40 candidates for parliament and local councils; associated disruptive acts possible over the near term



Separatist militants reportedly kidnapped at least 40 candidates running for local and parliamentary posts in the Northwest region between Monday, December 9, and Monday, December 16. The kidnappings have been carried out in an attempt to disrupt municipal and parliamentary elections due on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Separatists claimed responsibility for the abductions on social media, stating that the hostages will remain in their keeping until after the general election is held.

While the government declared that security measures will be taken to ensure the safety of other candidates and that the election is held with no incident, other measures to challenge the election are possible in the near-term.


Tensions between the country's minority English-speaking community and the national authorities are high in the Northwest and Southwest regions amid an ongoing separatist movement. The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, and violence which killed more than 3000 people. These tensions have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region, yet Cameroon's government declared the regions were peaceful enough to hold the elections.


Individuals in the Northwest region are advised to monitor the situation, follow all instructions issued by local authorities, and avoid protests or large gatherings due to the risk of violence.