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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Kirdi in Cameroon

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Date(s) Item
1001 - 1100 Muslim Fulani from the Niger basins began to migrate into Cameroon. The migration continued into the 19th century.
1501 - 1600 As Portuguese, Spanish, British, French, and Dutch traders sailed the coast of Africa, contact between the coastal people of Cameroon and European merchants began.
1640 Portuguese merchants established trading posts at Douala. The posts were soon abandoned because the Portuguese failed to sign treaties with local tribes.
1797 Germans began to explore Denham, Benoue, Natchalgal, and Fegal.
Jul 1884 The German diplomat Nachtigal established the German Kamerun Protectorate over much of present-day Cameroon. The French and British recognized the German protectorate in 1885 and 1886, respectively. Still, the French, British, and Germans competed for the control of the Lake Chad region.
1916 The German protectorate came to an end by a combination of British and French forces.
1918 As a result of the Versailles Treaty, Cameroon was placed under a League of Nations Mandate. Three-fourths of the trust territory was placed under French control while the West was placed under British administration.
1946 East and West Cameroon became UN Trusteeships. Cameroonians began to anticipate self-government and form political groups seeking independence.
1948 The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) opposed French rule and advocated the reunification of East and West Cameroon.
1951 - 1960 Anti-French activities, organized by the UPC, intensified throughout the 1950s.
1953 Following a constitutional crisis, the southern and western regions of Cameroon were divided. The northern part of West Cameroon was incorporated as a region of Nigeria, while the southern part of the West was constituted into a Federal territory with its own legislature.
Apr 1957 Cameroon become a state, but it remained under French trusteeship. The first Cameroonian government, led by Prime Minister Andre Maie Mbdia, was formed.
1958 The second government, headed by Alhaji Ahmadou Ahidjo (a northerner and former vice premier) was formed. The government party was the Union Camerounaise under the leadership of Ahidjo. The Cameroon Legislative Assembly affirmed its dedication to reunifying French and British Cameroon.
1959 John Foncha was victorious in a regional election in southern Cameroon. Foncha demanded secession from Nigeria and reunification with French Cameroon. In a UN-sponsored plebiscite, British Cameroonians opted for reunification with French Cameroon and northern peoples chose to maintain their status within Nigeria.
1960 Cameroon's independence was proclaimed and the first constitution was adopted by popular referendum. However, the British regions were placed under the administration of Nigeria.
1961 The Cameroonian republic was established with the union of the former German colony/French-administered UN trust territory of Cameroon and Southern Cameroons (the British-administered territories).
1966 The Union Camerounaise, a predominantly eastern party, joined forces with the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) of the west and formed the Union National Camerounaise (UNP).
May 20, 1972 Through a referendum, Cameroon adopted a new constitution abolishing the previous federal structure and changing the republic name to the United Republic of Cameroon. The constitution effectively turned the country into a one-party state.
Apr 5, 1975 Ahidjo was re-elected by 99% of the votes cast.
May 1975 Paul Biya was appointed Cameroon's first prime minister.
Jun 1979 An amendment to the constitution was passed establishing the prime minister as the successor to the president, if the president could not complete the term.
Apr 5, 1980 Ahidjo was again re-elected for a fifth term as president.
Jul 20, 1980 Claiming poor health and fatigue, Ahidjo unexpectedly resigned as president, allowing Biya to succeed him. Biya received much popular support as a result of his promises to allow more freedom and institute a fairer and more competent government. However, Ahidjo maintained his post as president of the party and became increasingly reluctant to relinquish political power. Disagreement soon emerged between Ahidjo and Biya, and Ahidjo and two army officers were charged with plotting a coup.
Nov 1982 During the transition from Ahidjo to Biya, riots and persecution erupted in the South and the North. Northerners living in the South and Southerners in the North were subject to harassment and were often forced to return to their native regions. Ahidjo had accused Biya of creating a police state and a regime of terror. Yet, the strife in the South and the North ended, and tensions between the Northerners and other groups has not been a major issue.
Mar 1984 The United Republic of Cameroon changed its name to the Republic of Cameroon.
Apr 6 - 9, 1984 The republican guard, comprised primarily of northern Ahidjo supporters, attempted a coup against Biya, resulting in an official death toll of 70. 1,053 insurgents had been arrested and a military tribunal resulted in the executions of 46 guards by firing squad.
May 26, 1990 Six people died during demonstrations in the north-western town of Bamenda (headquarters of Cameroon's North West province and a predominantly Anglophone town). The demonstrations were organized by the Social Democratic Front (SDF), an illegal opposition group. Following the dispersal of the 20,000 strong gathering, the state media criticized the demonstrators for 'rampaging'. The government accused the SDF of being pro-Nigerian. Three hundred students were arrested at a pro-SDF march at Yaounde university.
Jun 8, 1990 John Ngu Foncha, vice-president of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC - Rassemblement democratique du peuple camerounais), the country's sole legal party, resigned in protest over the killing of six people in a pro-democracy protest in Bamenda.
Jun 29, 1990 President Biya hinted at the possibility of establishing a multi-party political system during his address to the congress of the RDPC. He also announced reforms, including greater freedom for the press and the abolition of laws governing subversion.
Jun 30, 1990 Biya was re-elected as party leader of the RDPC.
Sep 8, 1990 Biya extensively reshuffled his cabinet. Included in the reshuffle was the appointment of Augustine Knotchou Komengni, an academic lawyer, as Minister of Information and Culture. This was consistent with Biya's promise to relax restrictions on the media. A northern Muslim, Sadou Hayatou, became Secretary General in charge of coordinating the affairs of all the ministries.
Dec 1990 The National Assembly adopted legislation providing for a multi-party system.
Apr 1991 Increasing tensions and public disorder exploded, resulting from increased demands for political reforms and the end of Biya's one party rule. Rioting and repression was reported in Douala, Yaounde, Bamenda, Ngaoundere, Maroua, Bafoussam, Kumba, and other large population centers. Yaounde was plagued by serious street violence between young demonstrators and police. The riots and demonstrations were particularly fierce in Yaounde university. According to human rights activists in Cameroon, up to 48 people had been killed and 58 students might have died. The National Co-ordination Committee of Opposition Groups called for a day of civil disobedience and a general strike on April 15.
Apr 22, 1991 The National Assembly passed an amnesty bill, which provided for the return of political exiles and compliance with the opposition's demand for the release of several hundred political prisoners.
Apr 25, 1991 The National Assembly re-established the post of Prime Minister, which had been abolished in 1984. President Biya appointed Sadou Hayatou (a Muslim northerner) to the new post. Hayatou appealed to the protesting students for dialogue and promised to work towards transition. But the introduction of the prime ministerial post and Hayatou's plea did little to stop the continuing violence.
May 4, 1991 A demonstration of approximately 5,000 people was peacefully staged in Yaounde. The protestors were demanding democratic reforms.
May 6, 1991 Students evacuated Yaounde university, following a raid by government gendarmes. While Radio Cameroon said that 2 people were killed in this episode, many injured, and 219 were arrested, other reports estimated 20 dead and 1,000 arrests.
May 7, 1991 Following a visit to Washington, D.C., Biya said presidential elections would be scheduled before the end of the year. Elections had last been held in April 1988.
May 10 - 11, 1991 During a meeting in Bamenda (in the Anglophone northwest), 18 of the 21 opposition parties called for a general strike and a program of civil disobedience on May 16-17. The parties threatened to convene a national conference themselves unless Biya did so by May 24.
May 16, 1991 In the eastern town of Douala, about 50,000 demonstrators demanded the overthrow of Biya. The demonstrators were confronted by government troops, but refused to disperse. It was reported that four people were killed and the opposition groups boycotted celebrations on National Day on May 20.
Oct 1, 1991 According to Radio France Internationale, opposition leaders were arrested and tortured following demonstrations in Douala.
Oct 2, 1991 In Bamenda, demonstrators defied a ban on public gathering, and confronted security forces in further street violence.
Oct 11, 1991 Biya announced the scheduling of legislative elections on February 19, 1992, following intense pressure from opposition groups. Biya welcomed international observers to monitor the elections but refused to convene a national conference, a central demand of the opposition.
Oct 17, 1991 The National Co-ordination of Opposition Parties and Associations (NCOPA) called off a planned boycott of the re-opening of schools to reaffirm its commitment to dialogue. Still, the NCOPA said it would maintain its campaign of civil disobedience.
Oct 30, 1991 Prime Minister Hayatou met with opposition leaders to discuss plans for the legislative elections and the opposition's access to the media.
Dec 1991 Ndeh Ntumazah was elected as the leader of the legalized UPC, after his 30 year-long exile.
Dec 9, 1991 The National Assembly approved new electoral legislation and shortened its term in anticipation of elections in February. The main provisions of the new laws lowered the voting age to 20 and established a single round of voting, in addition to forbidding coalition groups from participating. The opposition groups, which had called for 2 rounds of voting, claimed that the single round was passed to the advantage of the RDPC.
Mar 1992 Multiparty legislative elections were held. Main opposition parties including John Fru Ndi's Social Democratic Front (SDF) and Adamou Ndam Njoya's Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU) boycotted the elections.
Apr 9, 1992 Biya appointed a new cabinet. Although the new cabinet was advertised as a coalition between the RDPC and the opposition, Biya relied heavily of RDPC officials for the major ministries. Simon Achidi Achu, an Anglophone from the northwest, was appointed prime minister.
Apr 13, 1992 The Movement for the Defense of the Republic (MDR), a tiny political party which represents the impoverished Kirdi of the north, joined a ruling coalition with Biya's party. MDR chairman Dakole Daissla was named Minister for Post and Telecommunications and Minister of the Environment. Dawaye Rou was appointed to secretary of state for agriculture.
Oct 11, 1992 Biya won a slim majority in Cameroon's first multiparty presidential election. According to official results of presidential elections, Biya (Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People, RDPC) won 39.98%, John Fru Ndi (SDF) 35.97%, Bello Bouba Maigari (National Union for Democracy and Peace, UNDP) 19.22%, and Adamou Ndam Njoya (CDU) 3.62%.
Oct 14, 1992 Fru Ndi and Maigari filed petitions to the Supreme Court, requesting the annulment of the election. The petitions accused Biya of adding names to the voter registration list, operating fake polling stations and withholding ballot papers. The Court refused to invalidate the results. Foreign observers, including the US National Democratic Institute, said that there were 'serious problems,' and the European Community expressed its concern with the irregularities.
Oct 26, 1992 Following a demonstration, called by Fru Ndi, in Douala, 50 people were held and beaten by security forces.
Oct 30, 1992 Some 150 government gendarmes were said to have surrounded Fru Ndi's home in Bamenda, where Fru Ndi and over 100 relatives and supporters were residing. Augustin Kontchou Kouomegni, Minister of Communications, confirmed that Fru Ndi was under house arrest.
Nov 1992 Rioting continued in Yaounde, Douala, and Bafoussam following the election and the arrest of Fru Ndi. Fru Ndi's SDF claimed that 500 people had been arrested in Bamenda on November 1 and that many had been subject to beatings.
Nov 3, 1992 Victorin Hameni Bieuleu, a second opposition figure and chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces of Cameroon (UFDC), was reported to have been arrested.
Nov 9, 1992 Cameroonian lawyers went on strike to protest the 'arbitrary' arrests of four of its members in North West Province.
Nov 27, 1992 In an effort to appease growing criticism and strife by the opposition, Biya reshuffled his cabinet members, including those from the UNDP and the UPC. The SDF was not represented in the National Assembly.
May 17, 1993 A draft bill on constitutional reform was unveiled by the government, which included a debate proposal in early June. The bill provided for a semi-presidential regime with an independent judiciary and the creation of a constitutional court, audit office, council of state, and Senate. Despite limited decentralization measures, the bill rejected the demands of the Anglophone community for a return to a federal state. Fru Ndi rejected the government's proposal of a national debate and called for a sovereign national conference. Bernard Muna, one of the founding members of the SDF, was expelled from the SDF for advocating the organization's participation in the national debate and for calling the continuing protests dangerous. The SDF and its allies in the Union for Change (an alliance of some 10 opposition parties) continued to dispute the results of the 1992 presidential elections results and kept up the pressure on the Biya regime.
Dec 7, 1993 Ethnic fighting between non-Muslim Kirdi and Muslim Hausas flared in the Briquetterie quarter of Yaounde. Many residents attributed the clash to the earlier stabbing death of a Kirdi.
Jan 6, 1994 According to Cameroonian government sources, 500 Nigerian troops occupied the two Cameroonian islands of Diamond Island and Djabane Island in the oil-producing Gulf of Guinea. The Cameroonian Foreign Minister, Francis Nkwain, said that the 'occupation was the worst border incident between the two countries for more than a decade.' Nigeria has denied being involved in the occupation, but it has sent a delegation to Yaounde to meet with Biya.
Jan 9, 1994 The leader of the Cameroonian Social Democratic Party (PSDC), Jean Michel Tekam, announced the creation of a new opposition united front, to prepare for the upcoming municipal elections. The new front is mainly composed of three existing political parties, including Me Oyendo's Social Movement for a New Democracy (MSND), chairman Catche's ARN, and the PSDC. Tekam invited the remaining opposition parties, including the SDF, to join.
Jan 16, 1994 The Vice Prime Minister in charge of territorial administration, Gilbert Andre Tsoungui led a reconciliation mission to the far north, following ethnic clashes between the Kotokoto and the Arab Choa in December. Tsoungui promised that the government would try to better manage the people and resources of the region.
Mar 1994 Following border clashes between Cameroon and Nigeria over Bakassi, the Cameroonian government has decided to appeal to the UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Apr 18, 1994 An OAU delegation arrived in Yaounde to discuss the border dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria. The mission was also expected to visit Nigeria to fully investigate the recent clash in the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula between Cameroon and Nigeria.
May 9, 1994 Following an intense leadership struggle within the Labor Confederation of Cameroon Workers, its secretary general, Louis Gombes, was forcibly removed from office. Gombes claimed that the government was behind the movement to oust him. His post was immediately filled by Andre-Jules Mousseni. Although Biya's direct response to opposition demonstrations continues to be forceful, several political concessions have been made. The most significant of Biya's reforms has been acquiescence to opposition demands for multi-party democracy. The existence of legal, alternative parties encouraged more political activism among the opposition while making it more difficult for Biya to justify repression. Since the introduction of the multi-party reforms, the number of newspapers has also increased, human rights organizations have been established, and greater international pressure has been brought to bear on the government. Also, criticism of Biya has surfaced in the form of reductions in foreign economic assistance.
May 21, 1994 Several members of the Progressive Movement were badly beaten by gendarmes and riot police when they attempted to hold a meeting at the Bamenda Omnisport Stadium in Douala.(Source: 1995 US Dept. of State Dispatch)
Jun 1994 After an OAU summit in Tunis, tensions between Cameroon and Nigeria over the disputed oil rich Bakassi peninsula eased, and troop concentrations diminished.
Jul 21, 1994 President Biya unexpectedly reshuffled the cabinet of Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu. The finance minister, Antoine Ntsimi was dropped and Justin Ndioro became minister of Economic Affairs, Finance, Planning, and Territorial Development. Joseph Owona, who held the powerful position of Secretary General to the President, was replaced by Titus Edoza. (Source: Africa Review of World Information, 9/95)
Jul 30, 1994 Authorities arrested 28 members of UNDP and charged them with inciting civil disorder in Marova, North Province. The 28 arrested UNDP members are accused of leading an attack on the motorcade of Deputy Prime Minister, Hamadou Moustapha (Source: 1995 US Dept. of State Dispatch)
Oct 1994 The newly formed FAC elected John Fru Ndi to lead the group. The group's first major undertaking under Ndi's leadership was a protest of a new law which extends the life of municipal councils. This law had been passed because the long delayed local elections had still not been held. (Source: Africa Review of World Information, 9/95)
Oct 8, 1994 Sixteen opposition groups including John Fru Ndi's SDF met in Douagla where they agreed to form a new united opposition front, the Front des Allies pour le changement (FAC). (Source: Africa Review of World Information, 9/95)
Oct 11, 1994 The SDF called for a general strike and nationwide demonstrations, but there was almost no response. Turnout was even low in the North-West province, the group's main stronghold. (Source: Africa Review of World Information, 9/95)
Oct 24, 1994 Government authorities arrested several dozen members of the SDF in a section of the North-West province. The arrests came after opposition members in Boyo called for organization of a strike and a tax boycott. (Source: Kaleidoscope, 10/24/94)
Nov 6, 1994 Biya announced local elections would be held in 1995. He also announced that constitutional talks held for a short time in mid-1993 would resume. (Source: Africa Review of World Information, 9/95)
Dec 1994 A constitutional consultative committee of 57 members met in throughout the month of December and discussed changes to the 1972 constitution, producing an agreed draft submitted to Biya who said constitutional revision would be completed by the end of 1995.
Feb 6, 1995 Samuel Eboua was named head of the FAC, which has a revolving presidency, replacing John Fru Ndi. (Source: Kaleidoscope, 2/6/95)
Feb 17, 1995 Armed government troops after an exchange of gunfire with bandits reportedly entered into a village of Choa Arabs in the far north province where they are said to have massacred in retaliation as many as 55 people. (Source: 1995 US Dept of State Dispatch, 3/95)
May 28, 1995 Claiming SDF leader John Fru Ndi is incompetent and autocratic seven members of the opposition group SDF announced their intention to leave the organization and form a new opposition party. The formation of this new party, the second SDF spin-off party to be formed, will undoubtedly weaken SDF and further fragment the opposition movement in Cameroon. (Source: Reuters World Service, 5/28/99)
Jun 10, 1995 18 people were killed and 200 others were injured in clashes earlier in the week between residents of Bali and Bafanji. This outbreak of violence in this region is the eighth in ten years. The two villages have been fighting over possession of agricultural land for decades. Source: Kaleidoscope, 6/10/95)
Jun 23, 1995 The English speaking western region of Northern province experienced a resurgence of ethnic clashes. Since the beginning of the month Bafanji and Bali ethnic groups have been clashing over ownership of provincial farm lands. It has been estimated that the conflict has displaced more than 3,000 people. Bali tribesman have been accused of blocking relief vehicles and this has compelled the National Committee for the Defense of Rights and Freedoms, a government organization, to make an urgent appeal for medicines, clothing, and food. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9/21/96)
Oct 16, 1995 Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku announced in London that Cameroon would be granted entry to the club of Britain and its former colonies, becoming its 52nd member, on November 1, 1995. (Source: Reuters World Service, 10/16/95)
Nov 3, 1995 English speaking separatists in new Commonwealth member Cameroon said on Friday they would send a delegation to the Auckland summit to seek support for a Quebec style independence referendum for the western region of the state.(Source: Reuters World Service, 11/3/95)
Jan 21, 1996 4.5 million voters cast their ballots in the country's 1st multiparty municipal elections. Candidates from 38 parties were vying for town councilor positions in 336 districts.
Mar 4, 1996 Five people were killed during a March 1 demonstration in the port city of Limbe. The demonstrators were protesting the appointment of government representatives to replace the elected mayors of Cameroon's 20 largest cities. Opposition candidates won the posts in 13 of the 20 cities in January's municipal elections.
Mar 6, 1996 Nigerian Justice Minister Michael Agbamoche said today that Nigeria was committed to pursuing a peaceful solution to its dispute with Cameroon over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. Agbamoche told the IC in the Hague that both civilians and troops had been killed last month in a six hour bombardment launched by Cameroon against Nigerian troops in the area last month.(Source: Reuters World Service, 3/6/96)
May 3, 1996 Cameroon was accused by Nigeria of provoking the latest outbreak of fighting on the Bakassi peninsula.(Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentor, 5/3/96)
Sep 19, 1996 In an unexpected political move, President Paul Biya fired Prime Minister Simon Achidi Achu. Achu was replaced by Peter Mousongue Mafani, an Anglophone from the southwestern province. Mafani's newly formed cabinet contains only seven of the former 33 members of Achu's cabinet. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts)
Apr 1, 1997 A curfew was imposed in Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking North-West province, following several March 28th attacks by Anglophone separatists against both military and civilian targets. At least four people were killed, including two officers.
May 17, 1997 General elections were held earlier today. John Fru Ndi, leader of the opposition group SDF claimed that massive electoral rigging took place, and that the SDF will most likely call for an annulment of the election results. Actual results are not expected for more than two weeks. (Source: Reuters World Service, 5/19/97)
May 21, 1997 Government troops were sent into Kumba after three opposition militants were gunned down. In the aftermath of weekend elections, said to have been rigged by Biya's RDPC, substantial unrest and some rioting erupted in Kumba, a largely Anglophone populated part of Cameroon most opposed to Biya's rule. (Source: Reuters World Service, 5/21/97)
May 28, 1997 The state owned Tribune reported election results giving Biya's RDPC 114 out of 180 seats. Most private newspapers however showed 97 seats for the SDF opposition led by John Fru Ndi. The SDF and several other opposition groups have complained of massive electoral fraud. These groups claim that the elections were hindered by massive police harassment of voters, the withholding of voter cards to known opposition sympathizers, and government stuffing of ballot boxes. John Fru Ndi has demanded that the election results be annulled, a national independent electoral commission be formed, and that new elections be held. (Source: Reuters World Service, 5/28/97)
Sep 9, 1997 Paul Biya, current president of Cameroon announced today that presidential elections will be held On October 12, 1997.
Sep 12, 1997 The four main opposition groups in Cameroon announced today that they will boycott presidential elections scheduled to be held next month, because of alleged electoral fraud in general elections held in May, 1997. The four opposition groups that will not participate in the presidential elections are the primarily Bamileke and Anglophone supported SDF, lead by John Fru Ndi, the Union Nationale pour la Democratie et le Progress (UNDP) led by Bello Bouba Maigara and supported by the countries Muslim minority, Adamou Ndam Njoya's northern supported Union Democratique de Cameroun (UDC), and Hubert Kamganag's Union des populations Africaines (UPA). (Source: Africa News, 10/11/97)
Oct 13, 1997 The supreme court confirmed incumbent President Paul Biya's victory in the October 12th Presidential elections. The court reported that Biya captured 92.6% of the vote and estimated voter turnout at more than 80%, a figure that opposition groups like the SDF dispute.
Jan 16, 1998 Samuel Eleme, a publication director for the magazine, "Le Détente" was convicted of "defamation" for a series of articles published in August, 1997 accusing a prominent business official of having committed a number of thefts in Nigeria. He was sentenced to three years in prison and was fined 10,000 FF. (Africa News, 1/28/98)
Feb 13, 1999 Christian Tabessing, 41, a Bamileke from Western Cameroon, currently Vice President of the Economic and Financial Affairs Commission of SDF announced that he will run in the chairmanship election and challenge John Fru Ndi. Christian blamed the disintegration of the party on Ndi, and denounced divisions, rejections, expulsions, and self exclusions within the party.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/18/99)

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