This week the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to the Cameroonian Government to express the global trade union movement’s outrage over the violent attacks against striking dockers and the arrest of 32 workers at the Port of Douala. However, given the present state of unrest in the country, the message will likely be lost in a background of hatred and murder which apparently currently exists there.
Cameroon has always been a divided country with the French and English languages spoken in an 80:20 ratio by its citizens. Now a split has widened, not helped by the intransigence of the 85 year old President Paul Biya who has made no substantive comment other than to announce that he will stand in elections on October 7 when he is expected to beat off the challenge of eight opponents and extend his 36 year reign.
Over 120 people have died since the Anglophone minority began protesting against the dominance of the French language in schools in 2016. The conflict worries the country’s landlocked neighbours as ports such as Douala are essential to keep the trade flowing to and from places like Chad and the Central African Republic, hence the government’s sharp crackdown.