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Top security officials dropped in cabinet reshuffle

Top officials responsible for security in Cameroon have been dismissed in a cabinet reshuffle announced on Saturday. A media source in Yaounde told IRIN on Monday that their dismissal has been widely interpreted as a response to an outcry against crime in the West African nation.

The minister of territorial administration, the secretary of state responsible for penitentiaries, the secretary of state for the national gendarmerie and the head of national security all lost their posts in the reshuffle, which affected 14 ministries and six posts of secretary of state.

No reason was given for the reshuffle but, according to the media source, it came a week after the government promised to curb insecurity in the country. That promise followed attempts by bandits to rob the Dutch charge d’affaires on 8 March and, two days later, the US ambassador to Cameroon.

In recent weeks, members of the diplomatic corps, opposition parties and human rights advocates have expressed concern about the high level of crime in Cameroon.

In an end-of-January travel advisory, the French Foreign Ministry noted that “violent armed attacks, often targeting foreigners, are very frequent in the country’s main towns”. The US State Department warned on 14 March that “armed banditry is a serious problem throughout all ten provinces of Cameroon”. It said there were many reports of carjackings and burglaries, particularly in Yaoundé and Douala, and that such crimes “have often been accompanied by violent acts”.

AFP reported that President Paul Biya condemned the violence on Monday 13 March, assuring the diplomatic corps of the importance he attached to the security of people and property in Cameroon. He said the government was undertaking a further overhaul of the security services to counter “serious banditry and urban crime”.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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