Cameroon protesters call for death of Boko Haram leader
Several ministers led the vocal, but peaceful march
Several thousand people took to the streets of Cameroon’s capital on Saturday to denounce Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency and call for the killing of the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau.
“This march symbolizes Cameroon’s unity against Boko Haram,” the country’s Labour Minister Gregoire Owona told marchers in Yaounde, before shouting “Shekau!”
In response, the crowd that organisers said numbered 10,000-15,000, chanted: “You are dead, you are a coward.”
Over the past seven months Cameroonian soldiers have been battling the Nigerian Islamists, which are now locked in a regional fight that also includes soldiers from Nigeria and Chad.
Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency, which has left 13,000 dead and forced over a million from their homes, has increasingly spilled over into neighbouring nations.
Several ministers led the vocal, but peaceful march, which saw protestors waving the flags of Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
“It was important to be here for me, for my brothers who are on the front, for my country,” said marcher Philomene Ekombo, a Cameroonian flag in hand.
However, the date of the demonstration sparked controversy in Cameroon because it coincided with the anniversary of protests in 2008 in which the government said 40 people were killed. Locals groups put the death toll at 139.
Critics claimed the march organisers, with government encouragement, planned the protest in order to overshadow memorials of the 2008 killings. Organisers denied the allegation, saying: “There is no memorial war.”