January 06, 2012
Douala Rocked by Violence
Cameroon’s largest city Douala is witnessing an uneasy calm following frenzied and fatal skirmishes Tuesday pitting predominantly Bamileke motorbike taxi riders (otherwise called “benskins”) and natives of the Deido Canton. Local gendarmes have confirmed the riots culminated in the killing of at least two persons. Several persons were hospitalized with injuries ranging from knocked off teeth and severe burns to fractures. Vastly deployed anti-riot forces teargased demonstrators all day to enforce the currently shaky calm.
The raging hostilities exploded Monday night after yet-to-be identified vandals torched three houses and set ablaze scores of bikes in the Deido vicinage. The perpetrators were ostensiblystriking back following a decision by Deido youths to bar the circulation of motorbike taxis in the neighborhood chiefly populated by Douala natives.
The currently protracting rancor between the riders and indigenes erupted on New Year’s Eve when Eric Mony, a Deido native was allegedly stabbed to death by motorbike riders who transported him to his abode after he went nightclubbing. The killing prompted acts of retaliation by irate Deido natives who indiscriminately pounced on all riders; seizing and burning their bikes as well as banning their circulation in the neighborhood.
Tuesday’s confrontations were thus a natural elongation of the December 31 hostilities as the city’s taxi riders unanimously teamed up to denounce what they rated the “arrogance” of the Deidos and the laxity of local administrative authorities.
Governor Francis Fai Yengo, flanked by collaborators led a hastily-arranged troubleshooting venture to the canton where closed doors discussions obviously failed to chill flaring tempers. “We agreed that a truce should be observed to allow time for the authorities to better seek ways of resolving the problem,” Deido Canton Paramount Chief, Gustave Essaka Ekwalla explained. But his close aides hinted that it would be hard to implement the ceasefire.
“Motorbike taxi riders in Bepanda, Village, Makea and other parts of the city are mobilizing. Deido youths are mobilizing and from every indication, there will be trouble tonight. The governor’s instructions to police to disperse crowds of more than five persons are useless. The only way to prevent further bloodshed is for the entire city to be placed under a state of emergency,” Robert Ekwalla, a Deido native noted.
By nightfall Tuesday, Deido youths, armed with clubs and machetes had again erected barricades on roads in the area to keep out the riders. Meantime, water cannons [otherwise known as “MamiWata”] and combat-ready troops were ubiquitous.
Tuesday’s riots considerably snail-paced activities across the city. Panic-stricken pupils and students missed the first day of classes as schools resumed for the second term, traders and workers stayed indoors, traffic flow came to a standstill and shops remained closed for the day.
Despite the massive troop deployment, the authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as risks of further violence remained sky high late Tuesday amid budding insinuation that politicians were gearing up to take advantage of the fray to reap political capital.
Jean Jacques Ekindi of the MP, Fritz Ngo of the MEC, Dooh Collins and Francoise Foning of the ruling CPDM were all spotted cajoling the rioters. “I am asking the authorities to ensure that politicians are kept away because they are the ones who may come to infuriate the protesters or push them into the streets for their personal interests,” Tonye Fonguimo warned.
Article source The Post
Posted on The Cameroon News on Cameroon Breaking News
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