Cameroon's Prime Minister has ruled out the option to hold a referendum on a possible return to a federal system in the country. Philemon Yang made the remarks as the Northwest and Southwest provinces, Cameroon's only English-speaking areas, are witnessing protests with people calling for an end to the use of French and perceived disenfranchisement.
Amid ongoing protests, some groups called for a return to a federal state system. Others called for the breakaway of the Northwest and Southwest provinces and the restoration of the so-called "Southern Cameroons", a British mandate during colonisation.
"In Cameroon, the constitution is one and indivisible. We appeal to all our children to go back to school. Tomorrow, why not? Dear children, your place is at school to prepare and educate yourself for the future of your country," Yang was quoted by AFP as saying.
French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. In October, a group of English-speaking lawyers took to the streets of Bamenda, capital of Northwest region, to protest against the use of French in courts and the lack of English versions of some legal acts and codes.
Demonstrations continued throughout November with lawyers striking in both the Northwest and Southwest, amid allegations the Cameroonian police "used tear gas to disperse" the lawyers.
The alleged police reaction sparked further demonstrations in Anglophone Cameroon, where teachers and students are now striking in protest against the use of French in schools and the presence of "Francophone teachers" in English-speaking areas.
Security forces arrested at least 100 protesters amid allegations some people were killed in Bamenda and Buea, capital of Southwest region, something the government has denied.
Southern Cameroons and independence calls
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.
More on possible alliance between Southern Cameroons and pro-Biafrans.