French broadcaster TV5 Monde apologized on Wednesday for mistakenly using the flag of a separatist group to represent Cameroon during a news program, sparking outrage in the African nation.
The incident occurred on Tuesday evening during a segment on the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament. Instead of displaying the official green-red-yellow flag of Cameroon, the program mistakenly used the flag of Ambazonia, the name used by English-speaking separatists seeking to create an independent state in western Cameroon.
In a press release issued later that day, TV5 Monde acknowledged the error and offered its "sincere apologies to the Cameroonian people and authorities for this mistake." The broadcaster blamed the incident on a "lack of vigilance in its production chain," and pledged to "scrupulously use the only flag enshrined in the fundamental law of the Republic of Cameroon."
The mistake drew strong condemnation from Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital. In a letter sent to the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Cameroonian embassy in France denounced the incident as "highly regrettable and highly prejudicial to Cameroon's international image," and called for "respect for its sovereignty and coat of arms."
The National Communication Council (CNC), Cameroon's media regulator, also demanded "appropriate explanations regarding this error" from TV5 Monde.
The incident ignited anger among many Cameroonians, with some taking to social media to liken it to a "provocation by France" and demanding further action.