Detained Cameroon opposition head accused of rebellion

Authorities in Cameroon on Thursday banned planned protest marches in the capital Yaounde after a series of unauthorised anti-government demonstrations and some 200 arrests, including the detention of main opposition leader Maurice Kamto.

Former government minister Kamto, who claims to have been cheated out of the presidency in last year’s elections, was arrested in the economic capital Douala on Monday.

His lawyers have said he is under investigation for alleged insurrection.

Four planned marches, scheduled for Friday and Saturday and the following week, are prohibited for the “preservation of public order”, said area administrator Jean-Claude Tsila in a statement read out on state radio.

The organisers of the marches have been asked to “give up their plans”, the statement added.

Opposition marches took place in several towns last weekend, protesting against the reelection of Cameroon’s veteran leader Paul Biya.

Biya, 85, won a seventh consecutive term in last October’s disputed presidential election with 71% of the vote, according to the official results. He has held power for 36 years.

Kamto came second in the election with 14%.

Late on Wednesday, Kamto’s lawyers said eight charges had been levelled against him and some 200 other detainees, including “group rebellion” and “hostility to the homeland”.

He is also accused of “insurrection”, “breaching the peace” and “incitement to insurrection”.

All of the detainees face the same allegations, according to lawyer Sylvain Souop, member of a team of 15 lawyers.

“The ‘facts’ have been defined even before the people have been heard,” he said.

On Wednesday Souop met with Kamto, who was detained by an elite police unit called the Special Operations Group.

“He is well, his morale is good and he was interrogated (on Wednesday in the presence of the director general of the criminal investigation division,” Souop said.

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