Friday 24 November 2017

UN chief to meet Cameroon leader over anglophone unrest

UN chief to meet Cameroon leader over anglophone unrest
(AFP 10/27/17)

UN chief Antonio Guterres said he would meet President Paul Biya of Cameroon late Friday to discuss the troubles in the country's anglophone regions.

"We are going to be able to assess the recent evolution of (the situation of) the anglophone community," Guterres told AFP on Thursday in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic (CAR).

Guterres is to leave CAR at 1615 GMT on Friday after a four-day visit to the country.

He will make a four-hour stopover in Yaounde where he is to take a commercial flight to Paris. He will use this time to talk with Biya.

"It's a meeting that I deeply appreciate," Guterres said, adding that it reflected Cameroon's "great interest" in working "positively" in the region.

French-speaking Cameroon has a large anglophone minority which comprises around a fifth of its population of 22 million.

Gathered mainly in two regions, many English speakers say they suffer inequality and discrimination.

Simmering resentment has fuelled a breakaway movement that on October 1 issued a symbolic declaration of independence for the putative state of Ambazonia, prompting a crackdown by a government firmly opposed to secession.

International monitors say there has been a toll of more than 20 or at least 40 dead -- figures that are angrily disputed by Biya's government.

Guterres said he would also talk with Biya about the influx of displaced people from CAR into Cameroon and his concerns about the crisis in the Lake Chad region triggered by attacks by Boko Haram jihadists.

His trip to Bangui comes in the context of a looming decision by the UN Security Council on whether to renew the mandate, which expires next month, of its 12,500-troop peacekeeping force, MINUSCA, in the conflict-ravaged CAR.

He is lobbying for the mandate to be renewed and for an additional 900 troops.

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