Ex-separatist fighters lodged at the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, NDDR, Centre in Buea ran wild Monday, February 1, 2021, blocking traffic along the Mermoz- Bokwango stretch of road.
The repentant combatants said they were living in dire conditions at the DDR Centre, the opposite of the promises government made at the time it launched the program.
Those familiar with the situation say poor living conditions and the lack of adequate training in trades that can offer them opportunities to be reintegrated into the employment market led to the protest.
Aside from calling on the government to hastily reintegrate them into the job market, they asked that their living conditions at the DDR Centre be improved.
Ivo Makoge, Coordinator of the Buea DDR Center failed to calm down the flaring tempers.
Administrative authorities zoomed into the area accompanied by truckloads of anti-riot police officers. With sticks and stones in hand, the protesting ex-fighters were unmoved. They said they had been abandoned to their fate and matters are not getting any better.
The Divisional Officer for Buea, Abba Abdouraman, and the Secretary-General at the South West Governor’s Office, Dr. Mohamadou asked the protesters to return to the center so they could dialogue. The ex-fighters initially turned down the request of the administrators.
“I have been here for close to 18 months and there are no prospects that I will be reintegrated. I am tired of listening to your promises,” one of the protesters told the scribe at the Governor’s office.
“We want a solution to our grievances, not new promises. We want our freedom. We just want to be told that we are free and we will leave from here and see what to do with our lives,” others chorused.
The protesters later listened to the voice of reason and returned to the DDR Center. Authorities in Buea have promised to look into the issues raised.
A presidential decree dated 30 November 2018 established the National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Committee. Placed under the authority of the Prime Minister, Head of Government, the Committee headquartered in Yaounde has regional centers in Bamenda, Buea, and Mora.
The Committee is responsible for organizing, supervising, and managing the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-fighters of Boko Haram and armed groups in the North-West and South-West Regions willing to respond favorably to the Head of State’s peace appeal by laying down their arms.
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