Cameroon opposition leader kidnapped

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Unidentified gunmen in Cameroon’s Anglophone region kidnapped the leader of a leading opposition parties for the second time in two months, his party said.

Separatist rebels are battling government forces in English-speaking areas of the bilingual central African country, where the Francophone majority has long dominated.

John Fru Ndi, who heads the Social Democratic Front (SDF) and finished runner-up to President Paul Biya in the 2011 election, was seized from his home in Bamenda by gunmen who wounded his bodyguard, an SDF statement said.

Fru Ndi’s current whereabouts were unknown, it said.

Fru Ndi (77) was  abducted in April in Kumbo during a funeral procession and held for a few hours before being released. The SDF said Anglophone secessionist militants took him and tried to convince him to support their cause, though no one claimed responsibility.

The SDF called for Biya, president since 1982, to step down in favour of a transitional government that can resolve the conflict.

The party has not endorsed secession, angering separatists who turned violent in late 2017 after government suppressed peaceful protests against the Francophone majority’s alleged marginalisation of Anglophones.

The United Nations estimates the conflict killed about 1,800 and displaced over 500,000 in under two years.

Cameroon’s linguistic divide harks back to the end of World War One, when the League of Nations divided the former German colony Kamerun between allied French and British victors.