Cameroon Appoints Top Anglophones in Sweeping Cabinet Change

Cameroonian President Paul Biya announced a government change late Friday, creating a new ministry and appointing two officials from the nation’s Anglophone regions to top positions in an apparent bid to address a secessionist crisis in the central African nation.

Biya, 85, established a Ministry of Decentralization and Local Development and named Paul Atanga Nji, who hails from the restive Northwest region, as minister of territorial administration, according to a government statement read on state radio late Friday. Another Anglophone official, Pauline Nalova Lyonga Egbe, will lead the Ministry of Secondary Education, the statement said. Biya is Africa’s second-longest serving head of state.

Paul Biya

Photographer: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

While Cameroon is due to hold presidential elections in October, the government has been struggling to quash a popular movement that wants the two Anglophone regions to secede from the larger French-speaking territory. Secessionists have killed more than a dozen members of the security forces since the crisis began in late 2016. The leaders of the movement have been detained and will probably face trial this year.

The Finance Ministry will be headed by Louis Paul Motaze, according to the statement. While three close aides to Biya were fired in the shake-up, Prime Minister Philomen Yang, a Biya loyalist who also hails from the Anglophone area, retains his post.

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