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Cameroon: Authorities to ban cell phone usage nationwide October 7 /update 1

Cameroonian authorities to ban cell phone usage nationwide October 7 during presidential election; Anglophone separatists announce intent to stage protest October 1 and disrupt election in Northwest and Southwest regions

26 sept. 16h13 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 26/9/2018, 12h00 until 8/10/2018, 11h59 (Africa/Douala). COUNTRY/REGION Cameroon
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Event

Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), the Cameroonian electoral commission, has announced that mobile phone usage will be banned nationwide during the upcoming presidential election on Sunday, October 7. Further restrictions on telecommunications are possible in the run-up to the vote. Opposition parties have denounced the planned move and have threatened to protest in front of all ELECAM installations on Friday, September 28, if the decision is not reversed by September 27. Additionally, Anglophone separatists in Northwest and Southwest regions have announced their intent to stage protests in the regions on Monday, October 1, and have called for a general strike; the armed groups have also threatened to disrupt the elections in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near protest sites and polling places. Clashes between Anglophone separatists and security forces, and between protesters and police, cannot be ruled out.

Context

Some 6.6 million electors are called to the polls to choose their next president. Nine candidates are in the running, including current President Paul Biya, in office since 1982. The main opposition party, Social Democratic Front (SDF), will be running Joshua Osih.

Tensions between the country's minority English-speaking community and the national authorities in the Northwest and Southwest regions remain high. The period since November 2016 has been marked by the closure of all English-speaking schools, strikes, unrest, and sporadic violence. These tensions have escalated considerably since October 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. Armed separatists in English-speaking regions of Cameroon have killed over 80 soldiers and police since October, according to a report released by the government on June 20. The fighting has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee over the border into Nigeria.

Advice

Individuals in Cameroon are advised to closely monitor developments and avoid any rallies, protests, or other large public gatherings due to the potential for unrest. Due to ongoing sociopolitical violence, individuals in Northwest and Southwest regions are advised to closely monitor the situation, obey all instructions issued by the local authorities (particularly curfews), and avoid protests or large gatherings due to the risk of associated violence.

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