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Cameroon Opposition Claims Assassination Attempt Against Leader  

FILE - Maurice Kamto, a presidential candidate of Renaissance Movement (MRC), holds a news conference at his headquarter in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 8, 2018.
FILE - Maurice Kamto, a presidential candidate of Renaissance Movement (MRC), holds a news conference at his headquarter in Yaounde, Cameroon, Oct. 8, 2018.

Cameroon's main opposition party says the government is plotting to assassinate its leader, Maurice Kamto. The Cameroon Resistance Movement reiterated its claim Monday, three days after the party says an armed man tried to shoot and kill Kamto during a visit to the city of Garoua. The government says there was no assassination attempt.

In a statement Monday, the CRM party said it wants the world to know there are plans to eliminate their leader, Maurice Kamto. In the release, Kamto calls on Cameroonians to take note and insists that he was elected president of Cameroon in the October 2018 polls but that long-serving President Paul Biya stole his victory.

On Friday, Kamto visited Garoua, capital of the North Region. He was riding in a car, with crowds of supporters lining both sides of the road, when his private security guards riding behind him dove toward someone following them on a motorcycle. The guards said the man was carrying a rifle to kill Kamto.

The security guards took the armed man, later identified as a member of the Cameroon military, to the governor. The governor, who is, the highest-ranking official of the North Region, did not make a statement.

On Saturday night, about 40 Kamto supporters demonstrated at CRM headquarters in Yaounde, calling on the government to explain why it sent an armed man after their leader.

CRM Secretary-General Christopher Ndong says the actions of the motorcyclist showed that Kamto is no longer safe.

"I confirm the assassination plot because we have seen that this particular person was a gendarmerie officer that attempted to kill Maurice Kamto in Garoua. He was arrested by the security forces [Kamtos’ private security] that were around Maurice Kamto and carried to the governor's office," he said.

Later Friday, a crowd at a Kamto rally subdued a man armed with the sort of gun used by the police and gendarmes.

Government spokesperson Rene Emmanuel Sadi said the officer on the motorcycle was simply gathering intelligence and accused the Kamto supporters of molesting him.

Sadi says the officers did not try to kill Kamto, and dismissed the CRM’s statements as a bid to manipulate the public and cause a riot at a time when the country needs peace.

"Professor Kamto should realize that the claim is an illusion. There comes a time when a politician lay aside his political interest and takes the posture of a statesman in order to safeguard the best interest of the nation," he said.

Kamto recently returned to Cameroon after holding rallies in Paris and Washington. In those events, he thanked Cameroonians living abroad for standing by him through his detention from February to October of last year.

He was arrested in February 2019 for contesting the results of the October 2018 presidential election. He was released on October 5, 201,9 when Biya ordered an end to court proceedings against Kamto and hundreds of his supporters.