For instance, on Monday, January 6, at about 3:00pm, over 15 trucks, pickups and buses, filled with Gendarmerie officers, drove into the Gendarmerie Legion in Buea. According to the Southwest Legion Commander, Colonel Henri Tchinda Mbouzikeu, the presence of the troops dispatched to the Southwest on the in- structions of the Government, is to protect the population and ensure that peace and serenity reign before, during and after the February 9 polls.
“These officers are here on a mission to secure the population and to do everything so that the elections of February 9 will be held in a serene atmosphere.’’ He added that the elements of the defence and security forces will be sent to the six Divisions of the region, where they will be expected to protect the population from the Ambazonia fighters, and bandits who are taking advantage of the Anglophone Crisis to terrorise the population.
On Sunday, January 5, it was the turn of the police and Tuesday, January 7, it was the elements of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR. In fact, these officers come in various contingents and move into the various Divisions of the Regions. According to our security sources, the move is to ensure that the population is well protected before, during and after the elections.
Colonel Tchinda urged the Southwest population to turnout massively and exercise their civic duties. “The population should be confident in the National Gendarmerie and go out to vote knowing that the Gendarmerie is there to protect them…’’
What is happening in the Southwest Region is what is also happening in the Northwest Region. Politicians, especially those of the opposition parties are already raising concerns over the militarisation of the two regions.
According to them, the Government has deliberately put the two Regions under military siege to scare voters from going out. They said the so called peace and protection that Government is highlighting as the reason for the massive deployment of troops to the two Regions is just a smoke screen to deceive the international community.
“These military officers have been brought into the Northwest and South- west Regions not to maintain peace and order, but as ambulance voters to vote for the CPDM. They would be deployed to the hinterlands where people have fled to vote as locals of the area. You will see the number of votes that would come from Lebialem, Ndian, Kupe-Muanenguba, Bui, Menchum, and Boyo where people have deserted because of the war. Votes from these Divisions will not be cast by the people, but by these uniform officers. The law gives the military the privilege to vote in their area of work, as such, they would be voting on behalf of the people,” our source who preferred anonymity said.