Cameroon authorities on Friday banned all gatherings of more than four people, ordered bus stations, eateries and shops to shut and forbade movement between divisions of its English-speaking region for three days to prevent planned protests.
Anglophone Cameroonians plan to demonstrate on Oct. 1st, the day of their independence from Britain, over what they say is ill treatment and neglect by the predominantly Francophone government of President Paul Biya.
The protests have become a lightening rod for opposition to Biya’s 35-year rule, Reuters reported.
During the last big protests in the western region, the government responded by unplugging the internet, killing six protesters and detaining hundreds of others.
Some of of those arrested were charged with crimes that carry the death penalty.
“Public gatherings and assembly of more than four persons shall be strictly forbidden. All off licenses, snack bars and night clubs shall not operate. Motor parks shall remain closed,” said the order signed by Adolphe Lele Lafrique, governor of the northwest region.
“Any persons who attempt to violate this order shall be prosecuted,” the order added.
Thousands of Anglophone demonstrators took to the streets last Friday, some of them hoisting separatist flags.
Cameroon’s divide has its roots in the end of World War One, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony of Kamerun between the allied French and British victors, according to Reuters.
The government ordered its border with Nigeria to be completely shut this weekend, as the good ties between the anglophone regions and eastern Nigeria worries authorities that keeping the border open during protests would grant the demonstrators a rear base and makes it harder to maintain order.