20 September 2006

Cameroon: Bakas, Mbororos Want Representation in Parliament

Bakas and Mbororos, both indigenous people in Cameroon, have demanded representation in parliament irrespective of the government in power.

They made the demand during a four-day regional seminar to sensitise government on the rights of indigenous people that held at the Yaounde Azur Hotel last week.

In a chat with The Post, the Press Officer of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, MBOSCUDA, Ibrahim Njobdi, stated that the marginalised indigenous people want to be represented in parliament irrespective of the government in power as is the case in Burundi.

He painted the picture of inadequate representation in parliament and municipal councils, lamenting that there is total unconcern towards the Mbororos and Bakas amongst other groups.

Njobdi decried the plight of Mbororos and Bakas who live a type of life and culture that render them vulnerable and expose them to exploitation and marginalisation.He hinted that land ownership is a serious problem for the indigenous people.

"Wherever we go, they say we do not have land and continue to subjugate us. We lack schools and social amenities," he said.Amb. Kamel Razak-Bara, Head of the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights, dismissed the controversy surrounding autochthones as baseless.

He described the indigenous people as a population with a particular identity, linguistic and religious affiliations considered marginalised and discriminated against.

He reiterated the resolve of the African commission to halt the situation and ensure protection of this population within the framework of the UN declaration on the rights of the autochthones.

Razak-Bara stated that the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights guarantees equal rights to these people and that the commission intends to make these rights visible as well as have the rights preserved.

He spoke of the need to convince African governments to discard the notion that indigenous people are a threat, and urged governments to recognise them and protect their identity.

He stated that programmes are being worked out to maintain the rights of indigenous people within the framework of nation states.

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