Cameroon’s main opposition leader Maurice Kamto walked free from jail Saturday after a military court ordered his release at the behest of veteran President Paul Biya.
The surprise conciliatory gesture comes as the president is facing a number of domestic crises and international criticism over political freedoms.
“We are here today thanks to your constant support,” Kamto, who had spent nine months behind bars, told hundreds of supporters who gathered to greet him.
“I saw you even when you couldn’t see me.”
He announced a “new chapter in our struggle”, adding that “if some people think that our liberation means the end of our struggle they have understood nothing”.
The struggle would be “peaceful”, he said before being driven away surrounded by a dozen-strong escort of klaxon-blaring vehicles.
Kamto, 65, was arrested in late January after months of peaceful opposition protests over the results of the October 2018 election.
He went on trial with dozens of others in a military court in September on charges of insurrection, hostility to the motherland and rebellion — crimes which could be given the death penalty, though this is no longer carried out in Cameroon.