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Cameroon’s Paul Biya vows to crush separatists

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NDI EUGENE NDI

By NDI EUGENE NDI
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Cameroon President Paul Biya has said government troops will crush those who disrupt of peace in the restive English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions.  

In a televised New Year message Tuesday night, President Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982, said the security situation in the two Anglophone regions is one of the country’s the most urgent problems at the moment. Armed groups have continued pushing the regions’ secessionist agenda.

He said the government had in the recent months tried to engage young Cameroonians who are fighting, most of who he said have been brainwashed.

He said they have been called upon to surrender their weapons.

“For those who persist in going down the wrong road and continue to use violence, we will have no other choice but to combat them in order to protect all our fellow citizens,” President Biya said.

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“Our Defence and Security Forces will, once again, perform their duty with restraint, but without weakness. I wish to reassure them of my full support,” the president added.

Separatist fighters are yet to comment on the president’s address. It is not the first time the Head of State is issuing such a warning. 

Cameroon is deeply divided with the Anglophone region agitating for secession into a republic of Ambazonia.

They claim that political leadership and allocation of resources is skewed in favour of the Francophone regions.   

The agitation for secession, which started in 2017, led to a crisis that has left 3,000 people dead.

At least 500,000 others have been displaced   internally, while 40,000 have been forced into exile in Nigeria, according to an International Non-Governmental Organisation.

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The government, however, claims the figures have been inflated. 

“Cameroon has only 152,000 internally displaced persons in the Northwest and Southwest regions,” Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji told a press conference in Yaounde last weekend.

President Biya called a national dialogue in October 2019 to seek solutions to the crisis. The talks were undermined by absence of rebel leaders and claims that government officials handpicked delegates.

But in his New Year message, the president said the peace talks marked a great opportunity for communion where participants expressed the need for peace and national unity.

“I noted with satisfaction that all Cameroonians welcomed many of the proposals made during the Major National Dialogue,” Mr Biya said.

As part of the proposals from the dialogue, parliament adopted two bills; one on the promotion of bilingualism and another granting a special status to the troubled regions.

The leader said he was convinced that effective implementation of the language law would strengthen Cameroon’s bilingual nature, a task however complicated by different cultures, education and judicial systems in the two regions.

“The special status granted the Northwest and Southwest regions takes into account the specificities of the Anglophone education sub-system, common law and traditional authorities,” the president said.

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Political power play disrupted as teams formed to lead pandemic war

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JOHN KAMAU

By JOHN KAMAU
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As the coronavirus crisis deepens, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have used the opportunity to solidify the workings of the administrative state — having liquefied the political state for the last one year.
A look at who is who in the newly-formed National Co-ordination Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is an indicator of the people that the President hopes to rely on as the country goes through one of the worst health crisis in recent history.

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Tracking coronavirus
With most of the politicians cut from the war against coronavirus, it is the government administration structure that has taken over, with regional commissioners being in charge at the county levels.
Internal documents indicate that President Kenyatta has given Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i powers to appoint several ad-hoc committees, which are working behind the scenes to contain the crisis.
Before the coronavirus gust disrupted the political stage and threw the politicos off-balance, Dr Matiang’i had become the dominant face of the administrative state — thanks to his position as the Interior CS and as the chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, whose mandate is to supervise the execution of government programmes.
Dr Matiang’i now has the mandate to chair the co-ordination committee on coronavirus. Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Treasury’s Ukur Yatani, Monica Juma (Defence), Peter Munya (Agriculture) and Joseph Mucheru (ICT and Youth Affairs) sit on the committee.
Others in this committee include Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe and National Intelligence Service Director General Major-General Philip Kameru.
Also sitting in the committee is Council of Governor Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
On Monday while making the decision by the National Security Council on strict movement into and within Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa, it was apparent that Deputy President William Ruto, who ought to be a member of the council, was missing in action. He has not been included in any of the committees.
Again, the media briefings have been left to Mr Mutahi Kagwe, who is less confrontational with reporters and displays better command and control of the meetings.
At times, Mr Kagwe has been delegating the duty to the Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi with technical support from Dr Patrick Amoth, the director-general of Health.
Previously, the President had appointed a National Emergency Response Committee chaired by Mr Kagwe. It has now been expanded and in the new arrangement, Education CS George Magoha, a medical doctor, will now be sitting in this committee together with principal secretaries Belio Kipsang and Simon Wabukwesi.
Also brought in is Lt Gen Robert Kibochi, the vice-chief of the Defence Forces and Kang’ethe Thuku, the Principal Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior.
The inclusion of the military in the arrangement means that the coronavirus pandemic is turning to be a national emergency.
Also established is the National Economic and Business Response working group, which is mobilising resources and conducting household impact assessment. Already, chiefs have been mobilised in various counties to list down the vulnerable members, with fear that the pandemic will take its toll on the poor and the elderly.
The economic team is chaired by National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and has among its members Industrialisation CS Betty Maina, Adan Mohammed East African Community), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge.
The President seemed to indicate that the war on corruption would go hand in hand with the fight against the coronavirus by instructing Treasury to allocate the Sh2 billion recovered by the Asset Recovery to the vulnerable within the community.
“Our fight in this area continues,” said the President.
Besides disrupting the political power play, the pandemic will also leave a major gap in the coffers and might mean that President Kenyatta’s Big Four legacy will be in trouble.

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Covid-19: Boris Johnson taken to intensive care

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken into intensive care in hospital with coronavirus after his condition worsened, according reports by the UK media.

Mr Johnson had been admitted to hospital for further tests Sunday evening, 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mr Johnson on March 27 said he was experiencing mild symptoms of the virus and had to self-isolate. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he said via Twitter.

Queen Elizabeth on Monday thanked frontline workers in their efforts against the pandemic. “We will succeed. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again,” she told the nation.

The UK’s death toll has increased to 4,934, as worldwide cases jump to 1,266,782 – 69,177 people have died and 261,132 have recovered.

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Parliamentary sittings put off after Uhuru’s movement order

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MARTIN KINYANJUI

By MARTIN KINYANJUI
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Sittings of the National Assembly and the Senate which had been scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been postponed indefinitely, Speakers Justin Muturi and Ken Lusaka have announced.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the Speakers said the move was as a result of a directive announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta banning movement in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Civid-19) pandemic.

Kenya has so far recorded a total of 158 coronavirus cases with 82 per cent of them being reported in Nairobi and another 14 per cent in the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa.

It is for this reason that the President announced the cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area and the three Coast counties.

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This has in turn affected the sitting of the Senate scheduled for Tuesday April 7 and that of the National Assembly scheduled for Wednesday.

“In the circumstances, it has therefore become necessary to inform you that it will not be possible to hold the Sittings of the Houses of Parliament as scheduled, until further notice.

“The leadership of the two Houses is consulting and shall advise on the means by which urgent business that is before the Houses of Parliament shall be transacted remotely and members shall shortly be advised on this,” the Speakers said in their statement.

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