Anglophone separatists in Cameroon have announced the launch of a virtual currency to help fund their campaign for independence and provide humanitarian aid.
The AmbaCoin, a bitcoin-like currency based on the blockchain software principle, is named after the so-called “Republic of Ambazonia”, a self-declared independent state in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest Regions.
“The People of Ambazonia has created AmbaCoin, a tradeable digital token that can be used as a currency, a representation of an asset, a virtual share, a proof of patriotic citizenship,” according to the currency’s website.
“All sales of the AmbaCoin will be directed to fund the Ambazonian Cause, to assist Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons, to rebuild homes destroyed by occupying military forces, and to defend communities from the repressive regime of La Republique Du Cameroun.”
According to a clock on the currency’s website, the AmbaCoin became operational on Friday.
It said there had been more than 28,000 pre-orders for the currency, a figure that could not be verified independently.
Buying one “amba” for the “Ambazonian Crypto Bond” costs 25 US cents.
In October 2017, separatist anglophone leaders declared a “Republic of Ambazonia” in two regions that were incorporated into predominantly French-speaking Cameroon in 1961.
The central government in Yaounde launched a crackdown, deploying thousands of troops against the fighters.
More than 200 members of the security forces and at least 500 civilians have been killed, according to the International Crisis Group think-tank, while the UN estimates that more than 437,000 people have fled their homes.
The two English-speaking regions were previously ruled by Britain as the Southern Cameroons.
Over the years, anglophones have chafed at perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority, especially in law, education and economic opportunities.
Resentment built into demands for a return to Cameroon’s federal state, which then snowballed into a declaration of independence as the situation polarised.
The purported state – whose name is taken from Ambas Bay on the coast – also has a flag, a national anthem and a president, but has not been internationally recognised.