A surge of vi­o­lence in Cameroon’s mi­nor­ity English-speak­ing re­gions An­gry pro­test­ers hoist sep­a­ratist flag

Video verses po­lice mis­con­duct ar­gued in mur­der-for-hire trial

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A surge of vi­o­lence in Cameroon’s two English-speak­ing re­gions, both long­time op­po­si­tion bas­tions, has spot­lighted the sim­mer­ing anger of the an­glo­phone mi­nor­ity as the na­tion heads for a key pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. An­gry pro­test­ers torched the na­tional flag and hoisted a sep­a­ratist one in its place in north­west Ba­menda last week, where “at least two” peo­ple were killed in clashes with the po­lice, author­i­ties said. The op­po­si­tion al­leged four peo­ple had been killed and a po­lice sta­tion was set ablaze in the sec­ond clash in the city be­tween po­lice and pro­test­ers in just over two weeks.

A fifth of Cameroon’s pop­u­la­tion, es­ti­mated at over 22 mil­lion, are an­glo­phone-a legacy of the uni­fi­ca­tion in 1961 of two colo­nial-era en­ti­ties pre­vi­ously run by France and Bri­tain. For years, Cameroon’s two an­glo­phone re­gions-in the neigh­bor­ing north­west and south­west re­gions-have com­plained of dis­crim­i­na­tion un­der the regime of 83-year-old Pres­i­dent Paul Biya, in power since 1982. The next pres­i­den­tial

Pros­e­cu­tors have long con­tended that Dalia Dip­polito’s own words prove she wanted a hit man to mur­der her new­ly­wed hus­band. Her at­tor­neys have ar­gued de­tec­tives were more in­ter­ested in star­ring on the tele­vi­sion show “Cops” than they were in pur­su­ing truth and jus­tice. Nei­ther side strayed from their scripts dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments at her re­trial Mon­day. Pros­e­cu­tor Craig Wil­liams spent most of his clos­ing ar­gu­ment re­play­ing hid­den-cam­era videos that have been seen by mil­lions on “Cops,”“20/20” and on­line since the depart­ment made them pub­lic in 2009.

In one, Dip­polito de­manded that her for­mer lover Mo­hammed Shi­hadeh find her a hit man, giv­ing him a $1,200 de­posit for his trou­ble and to buy the killer a gun. In an­other, she told un­der­cover de­tec­tive Widy Jean, por­tray­ing the would-be hit man, she was “5,000 per­cent sure” she wanted her hus­band dead. “This case is based 100 per­cent on her words, her ac­tions, her in­tent - all day, ev­ery day,” Wil­liams told the six-mem­ber Palm Beach County jury, point­ing at the ex­pres­sion­less de­fen­dant.

When Jean said he would put two bul­lets in Michael Dip­polito’s head vote is due in 2018. Other un­rest has been re­ported in the south­west­ern towns of Buea and Kumba. “The gov­ern­ment doesn’t want to lis­ten to the pop­u­la­tion,” said SDF spokesman De­nis Nkem­lemo. “They send the se­cu­rity forces to re­press them.”

An­g­los ver­sus Fran­cos

An ex­porter of oil that is rich in tim­ber and agriculture, the cen­tral-west African coun­try is among the most pros­per­ous economies of sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, mea­sured on a per-capita ba­sis. But the an­glo­phone mi­nor­ity has long com­plained that wealth has not been shared out fairly, and that they have suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion at the hands of the fran­co­phone ma­jor­ity. The cur­rent cri­sis was trig­gered by a strike by lawyers de­mand­ing that the an­glo­phone re­gions use An­glo-Saxon com­mon law as their ju­di­cial bench­mark. Teach­ers then went on strike.

On Mon­day, a con­sor­tium of jour­nal­ist as­so­ci­a­tions from the south­west con­demned the lack of trans­lated ma­te­rial and she agreed, “it’s over,” Wil­liams said. When she promised to pay Jean $7,000 and left the house the morn­ing she thought her hus­band would be mur­dered with­out warn­ing him, “it’s over.” Brian Clay­pool, Dip­polito’s at­tor­ney, coun­tered by blast­ing the Boyn­ton Beach Po­lice Depart­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, call­ing it “evil, ma­nip­u­la­tive, cor­rupt, self-serv­ing.” He said Shi­hadeh first told de­tec­tives Dip­polito was a do­mes­tic abuse vic­tim, and said they could have han­dled it sim­ply by call­ing her.

In­stead, he said, de­tec­tives “es­ca­lated” the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to im­press “Cops” pro­duc­ers, who were ar­riv­ing in town to film cases with the depart­ment. He slammed de­tec­tives for not record­ing dozens of phones calls and a key meet­ing be­tween Shi­hadeh and Dip­polito. He said po­lice knew th­ese con­ver­sa­tions would dam­age their “script” by show­ing she was be­ing pres­sured to meet with the sup­posed hit man.

Con­vict­ing Dip­polito, he said, would re­ward the depart­ment’s “ly­ing and cheat­ing.”“This case is way big­ger than Dalia Dip­polito,” Clay­pool said. “This case is about hold­ing law en­force­ment ac­count­able, not only here but ev­ery­where .... You all have a from “sem­i­nars, work­shops and meet­ings” that they at­tend and threat­ened to walk out of gov­ern­ment press con­fer­ences if handed “French doc­u­ments with­out an English ver­sion”, thus “ob­scur­ing the event”. Both French and English are of­fi­cial lan­guages.

‘Unity is our bedrock’

Part of the protest move­ment has be­come rad­i­cal, with young fire­brands back­ing a 22-year-old de­mand for the cre­ation of an in­de­pen­dent state called South­ern Cameroons. That was the term used for today’s an­glo­phone re­gion when it be­came a Bri­tish man­date ter­ri­tory fol­low­ing World War I, when Ger­many lost its African pos­ses­sions, in­clud­ing Ger­man Cameroon. The main part of Ger­man Cameroon be­came a French-ad­min­is­tered ter­ri­tory. Mod­er­ate an­glo­phones, though, are in fa­vor of fed­er­al­ism, a sys­tem that op­er­ated from 1961 to 1972, when the coun­try’s first pres­i­dent Ah­madou Ahidjo pro­claimed a united repub­lic. stake in this.” Dip­polito, 34, briefly cried dur­ing Clay­pool’s ar­gu­ment as other de­fense at­tor­neys rubbed her back. She is be­ing re­tired on charges of so­lic­i­ta­tion to com­mit first-de­gree mur­der. Her 2011 con­vic­tion and 20year sen­tence were over­turned on ap­peal be­cause of mis­takes dur­ing jury se­lec­tion by the pre­vi­ous judge. If con­victed as be­fore, she faces a max­i­mum 20-year sen­tence.

Pros­e­cu­tors didn’t lay out a mo­tive dur­ing this trial. Pre­vi­ously, they said they be­lieve she wanted con­trol of her hus­band’s $250,000 sav­ings and their $225,000 town house. Nei­ther did Dip­polito tes­tify this time. At her pre­vi­ous trial and dur­ing court hear­ings, she said she was only act­ing, think­ing they were in­volved in an ill-planned video project aimed at land­ing their own re­al­ity TV show. She also said pre­vi­ously that Shi­hadeh threat­ened her with a gun if she didn’t meet Jean. Michael Dip­polito and Shi­hadeh have de­nied there was a video project and Shi­hadeh has de­nied threat­en­ing Dip­polito. Shi­hadeh did say Boyn­ton Beach de­tec­tives threat­ened him with ar­rest if he didn’t stick with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Such a threat would vi­o­late depart­ment pol­icy. Jury de­lib­er­a­tions are ex­pected to be­gin today. — AP

Biya him­self has not taken a stance on the cri­sis, but with pres­i­den­tial elec­tions loom­ing in 2018 and uncer­tainty over his in­ten­tions, some lead­ing fig­ures in gov­ern­ment have moved quickly to rule out con­ces­sions. “We are say­ing loud and clear that de­mands call­ing for the re­turn to fed­er­al­ism are un­ac­cept­able,” Prime Min­is­ter Phile­mon Yang, him­self an an­glo­phone, said last week. “Unity is the bedrock of our coun­try.”

A vet­eran fig­ure in na­tional pol­i­tics, the head of the na­tional assem­bly Cayaye Yeguie Djib­ril, a fran­co­phone, took a tough line. “I de­nounce and con­demn with ev­ery breath in my body any wish to par­ti­tion Cameroon,” he said. The United States has voiced con­cern over the vi­o­lence in Buea and Ba­menda and called on both sides to ex­er­cise re­straint. Amnesty In­ter­na­tional has said the author­i­ties used “ex­ces­sive force” in Ba­menda, while the Catholic Church in Cameroon has con­demned “the use of ex­ces­sive force in pur­suit of rights or of main­tain­ing peace.”— AFP

FLORIDA: Dalia Dip­polito sits be­tween at­tor­neys Greg Rosen­feld (left) and Brian Clay­pool dur­ing her re­trial in West Palm Beach, Fla. Pros­e­cu­tors have long con­tended Dip­polito’s own words prove she wanted a hit man to mur­der her new­ly­wed hus­band. —VAP

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