West & Central Africa

Church leaders call for peace as riots rage in Cameroon

Church leaders in Cameroon have called for prayers amidst escalating riots that have left many people injured and are threatening to divide the French-speaking south from the northern-speaking English regions.

Last Thursday, a bomb blast in Bamenda city injured a number of police officers as a result of the protest over political and economic discrimination and the attempt by the Cameroonian government to impose French as an official language in schools and in the courts. Police killed six people last year in a protest in which lawyers and teachers called for reforms. Journalists have been jailed on terrorism charges for their criticism of the government’s policy. Thousands of people who are predominantly English speaking went into the streets on last Friday, demanding for a separate country.

Babila Foncham, of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, in his prayer at the African Biblical Leadership Initiative, called on God to, “Heal our land, Lord, and grant us peace. Forgive us Lord and have mercy upon us. Don’t allow us to plunge into war and violence.”

Babila appealed to God that, “Christian men and women among the crowd would act as instruments of peace and non-violence.

Emmanuel Che, one of the protesters, said, “The only solution to this matter is let the government solve the problem by giving our independence.”

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the Government’s spokesman said, “We are faced with a proper terrorist organization,” Bakary said of the secessionists. “No stone should be left unturned in the process of getting rid of them.”

Babila Foncham said, “We call on Christians especially to work for peace and set an example by abstaining from violence. Our prayer for every nation in Africa is for honest leaders who will serve their people and be peacemakers.”

 

Hassan John is Editor, GCN and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: CC Google images/Cameroon street/street with fire