Cameroon's main opposition party is calling for a return to a federal system following increasing tensions in the country's Anglophone areas. The Southwest and Northwest provinces, Cameroon's only English-speaking regions, have been rocked by anti-government protests and strikes for months.

Lawyers, teachers and students have been striking since October 2016 against perceived marginalisation and the use of French in courts and schools in the provinces.

Amid the ongoing unrest, some groups have taken to the streets demanding a return to a federal state system, the breakaway of the Northwest and Southwest provinces and the restoration of Southern Cameroons, the Republic of Ambazonia, a British mandate during colonisation.

The Social Democratic Front (SDF) is now joining the request for a federal state.

The party believes federalism would have prevented the crisis in the two English-speaking regions, SDF's strongholds, according to Africa News website.

The party also urged the government to release people arrested during protests and reinstate internet service in English areas, where connectivity was blocked in January.

The UN also called on the Cameroonian government to lift the ban, which is forcing people to travel to French-speaking regions where they can use internet.

The Cameroonian government is facing condemnation for the way it is handling protests, amid fears at least six people have been killed during rallies. Dozens have been arrested, with rights groups calling on authorities to investigate the fatalities.

The leadership, which denied allegations of excessive force by the military and police to quell protests, initially engaged with the organisers of the strikes. However, it has rejected calls for a referendum on a possible return to a federal system.

Some analysts have claimed authorities are failing to address people's long-standing grievances, which go beyond the use of French in courts and schools. The internet shutdown has now intensified resentment, with claims that the measure is now affecting local businesses.

What is Southern Cameroons?

Southern Cameroons

Southern Cameroons was the southern part of the British Mandate territory of Cameroons during the colonisation.

In 1961, people of Southern Cameroons voted whether to join Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon, which had already obtained independence from Britain and France one year earlier.

The vote resulted in Southern Cameroons becoming part of the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon.

In 1972, a new constitution was adopted in Cameroon, replacing the federal state with a unitary state.

The "Cameroon Anglophone Movement" was created in 1984. People originally sought a return to a federal system, but eventually started calling for independence.