Safety First

Cameroon strengthens its security arrangements for CHAN 2021

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on January 28, 2021 15:15

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-01-28T08-30-37.164Z Cameroonian President Paul Biya. © Victor Zebaze
Cameroonian President Paul Biya. © Victor Zebaze

Ahead of the football tournament the African Nationals Championship in Cameroon, one initial incident forced Cameroonian authorities to impose strict security measures in the North-West and South-West provinces to ensure the games will go on.

The Cameroonian defence and security forces are particularly vigilant in the English-speaking regions, especially in the South-West, where the African Nations Championship (CHAN) is taking place until 7 February.

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After the fire in front of one of the training stadiums in Limbe – allegedly caused by separatists on the eve of the tournament – Joseph Beti Assomo, the minister in charge of defence, decided to strengthen the security measures for CHAN 2021, introduced on 8 January.

Armoured tanks, pick-up trucks and heavy weapons

Under the leadership of a trio made up of Air Brigade General Benoît Eba Eba, commander of the second joint military region, General Elias Toungue, commander of the second gendarmerie region, and Colonel Séverin Eyenga, commander of the 21st motorised infantry brigade based in Buea (South-West), the personnel deployed on the ground have been reinforced and distributed around the host cities, hotels and stadiums.

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The troops are supported by an armoured tank and pick-up trucks equipped with heavy weapons. Five checkpoints have been set up around the Limbé stadium and the presidential guard dogs have also been made available to detect dangerous objects. In the Fako department, the prefect has banned the use of motorbike taxis – which are the preferred mode of transport for the separatists – until further notice.

Biya’s commitment

Beti Assomo has informed President Paul Biya of these new provisions. On 15 January, the Head of State had guaranteed the officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) that measures would be implemented to ensure the success of the tournament.

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However, not all bets are off. While no major incident has been reported so far, a bomb did explode on 26 January near the Rwandan team’s training camp that wounded three on-duty policemen. After the first round, Limbe is expected to host a quarter-final match and one of the two semi-finals of the tournament.

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