2008 Cameroonian Anti-government Protests
The 2008 Cameroon protests were a series of violent demonstrations in Cameroon's biggest cities that took place from 25 to 29 February 2008. The protests followed on the heels of a strike by transport workers, who were opposing high fuel prices and poor working conditions. Further political turmoil had been caused by President Paul Biya's announcement that he wanted the constitution to be amended to remove term limits; without such an amendment, he would have to leave office at the end of his term in 2011. Large groups of youths, whom the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) political party and the government blame one another for organising, took to the streets of Douala, Yaoundé, Bamenda, and other major cities, looting and vandalising property. The government sent in troops to crack down on the unrest, and protesters and troops alike were killed. The official government tally is that 40 people were killed, but human rights groups claim that the total is closer to 100. Government figures place damage to property at tens of billions of francs CFA (15.2 million euros or US$23.4 million).
In response to the protests, President Biya reduced the cost of fuel, raised salaries of civil servants and military personnel, reduced the duties paid on cement, and suspended duties on essential goods such as cooking oil, fish, and rice. Government forces also claimed to have arrested more than 1,600 people, including government officials, and to have prosecuted 200. Human rights groups and defence attorneys, on the other hand, claimed that more than 2,000 people had been arrested in Douala alone and decried the trials as overly swift, secretive, and severe. The government has also cracked down on artists, media outlets and journalists it accuses of threatening national stability.
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... As of 10 March 2008, official government figures put the number of deaths at 40, which includes both government security personnel and civilians. 7 March, the Maison des Droits de L'Homme (House of Human Rights, MDH), a Cameroonian human rights organisation affiliated with the International Federation of ... to keep the scale of the deaths caused in the protests a secret ...