The Cameroon government deployed additional soldiers into the country’s Anglophone regions on Tuesday, January 7, to provide security ahead of the upcoming general elections on February 9. A group of 350 security personnel arrived in Buea (Southwest region) as part of the efforts to ensure that polling will go ahead in the region. Troops were also deployed into the Northwest region. On Friday, January 3, separatist leaders in the Anglophone regions announced that a six-day lockdown will take place from February 7-12 to prevent the elections from taking place. A heightened security presence is anticipated across the country over the coming weeks leading up to the vote. Attacks targeting polling station, candidates, and election-related facilities are possible, along with clashes between separatist fighters and security forces.
Campaigning for legislative and municipal seats officially begins on Saturday, January 25. Political rallies and associated events are expected to be held throughout Cameroon during the campaign period. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are anticipated around all election events.
Dozens of candidates have been targeted or kidnapped by separatist forces in Northwest and Southwest regions in recent months. Over 30 candidates were abducted in the Northwest region between December 9 and December 16. On Sunday, January 5, the mayor of the Babessi municipal council in Northwest region was also kidnapped.
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. 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 Cameroon are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests or large gatherings and polling stations due to the risk of associated violence, and adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities.