The President of Cameroon Paul Biya has ordered the release of 333 persons detained for taking part in a separatist uprising.
Those detained come from the Northwest and Southwest regions and reportedly played roles in seeking independence for Anglophone Cameroon.
President Biya said in a statement on Twitter that he will drop charges against the 333 prisoners arrested for their alleged roles in two year long uprising.
The Cameroonean president launched peace talks aimed at ending ongoing fighting between insurgents and the military.
More than 1,800 people have been killed and over 500,000 displaced as a result of the fighting.
Biya said “I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against 333 persons arrested for misdemeanors, in connection with the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions.”
I have ordered the discontinuance of proceedings pending before Military Tribunals against 333 persons arrested for misdemeanours, in connection with the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions.#CmrDialogue #PaulBiya#Cameroon
— President Paul BIYA (@PR_Paul_BIYA) October 3, 2019
But the offer and gesture by Paul Biya has been rejected by the rebels fighting for independence.
Ivo Tapang, a spokesman for 13 armed groups called the Contender Forces of Ambazonia is quoted by Reuters as saying that “We will not accept an olive branch from someone whose troops are still in our territory. We will intensify our struggle with guns and bullets.”
Anglophones in Cameroon make up about a fifth of the country’s population of 22 million. But they complain of marginalisation in the hands of the French-speaking majority.