Cameroon's Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo on Wednesday reprimanded soldiers who paid military honors to the Sultan of Bamoun, calling their actions a "drift" incompatible with their status and a potential threat to national unity.
The incident, which occurred during a public ceremony on December 23, sparked public controversy after a video of the soldiers pledging allegiance to the traditional ruler went viral.
In a ministerial circular, Beti Assomo expressed his "dissatisfaction" with what he perceived as doubts about the soldiers' "loyalty to the institutions of the Republic and neutrality in the performance of duties in the service of the State."
He characterized the soldiers' actions as a "strong and obvious whiff of identity withdrawal," emphasizing that military personnel owe their allegiance solely to the republican authorities. Traditional chiefs, Beti Assomo asserted, are not among those authorized to receive military honors.
The Defense Minister's statement followed a request from the Commandant of the non-commissioned officers’ training center Cieso to recall the soldiers involved in the ceremony. This precautionary measure aimed to address the public outcry triggered by the incident.
Beti Assomo warned of potential sanctions for the soldiers responsible and their "leader," hinting at disciplinary action within the military.