Cameroon blames opposition party for prison riot

The Cameroon government has blamed supporters of a detained opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, for a riot at a prison in the capital, Yaoundé.

The trouble on Sunday night at the Kondengui maximum security prison saw hundreds of inmates go on a rampage, burning the prison library and infirmary as well as the destruction of a workshop meant for female inmates.

A government official, Jean Claude Tilla, who visited the prison to assess the damage, said that supporters of Mr Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM), were the instigators of the violence.

At least 400 of them are still held in different facilities in the country, but it is unclear how many are detained at the prison where the riot took place.

Mr Tilla said supporters of the CRM have been causing trouble in Cameroon prisons since they were detained.

“We know that they are hiding behind the Anglophone problem to foment such trouble,” he told journalists.

The riot was live streamed on Facebook and showed prisoners calling for the release of Anglophone separatist leaders held for over a year now. They chanted pro-independence slogans and described President Paul Biya’s government as incompetent.

Cameroonian security forces restored control after shooting in the air and firing tear gas into the prison.

The Anglophone detainees – many of whom have never been taken to court – were moved to different detention facilities.

The prison, constructed in 1969 for 1,500 people, currently has about 9,000 inmates, 90% of whom have not been charged, according to the justice ministry.

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