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Cameroon: Death of Patrick Ekema, tough separatist opponent

By Franck Foute
Posted on Wednesday, 30 October 2019 10:09

Patrick Ekema, in an interview with Television South West (TSW) © Youtube screenshot

The controversial mayor of the regional capital of the Southwest, Patrick Ekema, died at the age of 46 on Sunday, 27 October in a private clinic in Douala, following a heart attack.

The mayor of Buea was one of the pillars of the struggle against the “Ambazonian” independence fight.

The news of his death, which began circulating in the morning, was confirmed at midday by the public broadcasting office. According to reports, Ekema was rushed to a clinic in Douala’s Bonapriso district early on Sunday morning.

His death marks the departure of one of the major actors in the crisis that has been shaking the English-speaking regions of Cameroon since the end of 2016.

As mayor, Ekema was a fervent supporter of the struggle against the Ambazonian independence movement.

He built a reputation as a breaker of the Ambazonian supporters “ghost city” policy, usually imposed every Monday by armed Ambazonian militias.

Radical and controversial

In his drive to thwart the Ambazonian movement, he spared no effort to restore order in his city, to the point of taking controversial measures. His decision to permanently seal shops and stores that remained closed on the days of “ghost cities” was widely criticised and eventually repealed.

Throughout his life, Ekema paid a heavy price for his radical stances. In September 2017, the residence of the municipal magistrate was attacked by angry demonstrators. The mayor managed to save the magistrate’s life by firing warning shots to disperse the crowd.

Following this episode, he found it necessary to acquire a close-knit guard detail, often numbering ten people.

In September 2018, it was reported security forces alerted to the presence of armed individuals in the Sawa Hotel in Douala, stormed the establishment, causing panic in the city, before realizing that they were the bodyguards of the Mayor of Buea.

Ekema was renowned for his shock statements. At one point, he announced he wanted to kidnap the relatives of the independence fighters to force the resumption of school in the English-speaking area.

Patrick Ekema made his last public appearance during the Grand National Dialogue initiated by Paul Biya, at the end of September.

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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