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Cameroon Opposition Leader’s De Facto House Arrest Ends

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

Hundreds of supporters of Cameroon opposition leader Maurice Kamto have gathered at his home after his months-long de facto house arrest suddenly ended. Heavily armed police stationed at his home since September 22 left on Tuesday, but authorities are giving no explanation.

Maurice Kamto’s supporters flocked to his home after heavily armed police left the opposition leaders house Tuesday night, ending a months-long, de facto house arrest.

Cameroon authorities gave no immediate explanation for why police left or if Kamto would face any charges from the September protest that prompted the detention.

Among the hundreds of Kamto supporters is 19-year-old Ernestine Nnanga, who says she is anxious to see him free.

"When I heard that the police left the house of our political leader Maurice Kamto, I came here to know if our political leader Maurice Kamto is in good health, to know the plan he has for our country," said Nnanga. "Thirdly, I want to hear from him. I want him to address us Cameroonians"

Christopher Ndong is secretary general of Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement party.

He says the opposition leader is in good health and will be addressing his supporters at what he calls an appropriate moment.

Ndong called on the government to release some 130 Kamto supporters and party officials who were among hundreds arrested in September for rebellion and illegal assembly.

"We are looking forward for them (government) to release the leaders of the executive (CRM party) organs and many others," said Ndong. "We will make this government to know that there should be meaningful and true democracy. That political parties should be free to hold meetings, manifestations, associate with other political parties, create coalitions and that the electoral system be revised and then an electoral code done, which will be suitable for everybody."

In a press release late Tuesday, government spokesman Rene Emmanuel Sadi said those arrested would face the law.

Sadi said they are accused of rebellion, attempted revolution, and illegal assembly for a September 22 protest against President Paul Biya and holding regional elections.

Territorial administration minister Paul Atanga Nji says Cameroon’s first regional elections held Sunday shows that people trust Biya and his government.

"Everyone knows that in a democracy, political or republican legitimacy is acquired through the ballot box," said Nji. "Refusing to participate in elections and claiming to defend the interest of Cameroonians without any elective mandate is a scheme that cannot work in Cameroon. We will not allow that to happen."

The opposition argues election laws favor the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party and Biya, who has been in power for nearly four decades.

In January 2019, authorities detained Kamto and 200 of his supporters for insisting that Biya stole the 2018 presidential election from him.

International pressure led Biya to pardon Kamto after he’d spent nine months in prison.