Maurice Kamto

A prominent lawyer close to detained Cameroon opposition leader Maurice Kamto was charged on Thursday with rebellion, her lawyer said, after the country shrugged off international concern over a wave of arrests targeting government critics.

Michele Ndoki was “placed in custody” and charged with the same offences as Kamto, who is being held for insurrection, hostility to the homeland and rebellion, according to her lawyer Emmanuel Simh.

Cameroon this week rejected US criticism of the detention of Kamto and dozens of supporters, insisting that it was not politically motivated.

Kamto, head of the opposition Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), claims he was cheated out of victory when Paul Biya was elected to a seventh term as president in last October’s election.

Ndoki was detained following a protest in the country’s economic capital Douala on January 26 in support of Kamto, who was subsequently arrested along with some 150 supporters.

‘Massive and systematic fraud’

The lawyer, who last year protested before the Constitutional Council against what she called “massive and systematic fraud” during the election, was injured in the rally. The opposition said police had fired live bullets at the crowd – a claim the government rejects.

On the same day as the January protests, Cameroonians living abroad hostile to the Yaounde government attacked the country’s embassies in France and Germany.

The government has said the demonstrations in Cameroon were illegal and blamed Kamto’s supporters for damage to the embassies. Kamto has denied any responsibility.

On Tuesday, the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini criticised the arrests and what she called the military court’s “disproportionate” proceedings against them.

Her comments followed remarks by Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, who told Radio France Internationale that Cameroon would be “very wise” to release Kamto because his detention is widely perceived as politically motivated.

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