Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 13:47 UK

Cameroon singer jailed for riots

Lapiro from the album cover of Debre Man
Lapiro was arrested in April over riots earlier in the year

A court in Cameroon has sentenced one of the country's best-known singers, Lapiro de Mbanga, to three years in prison over anti-government riots.

Lapiro was convicted for taking part in riots in February that authorities said left at least 40 people dead.

The singer is the author of a song criticising a constitutional reform that will allow the President Paul Biya to seek re-election in 2011.

Lapiro's wife denied that her husband had taken part in the riots.

In comments to AFP news agency, she said he had actually "calmed people down so that they wouldn't set fire to the city hall," in Lapiro's home town of Mbanga.

The court also ordered the singer to pay 280m CFA francs ($640,000) in compensation for damage caused during the riots.

Mbanga was one of several Cameroonian towns that saw riots in February over the high cost of living and the constitutional reform.

Authorities had accused Lapiro, an influential member of the opposition Social Democratic Front, of being one of the orchestrators of the riots there, the BBC's Frederik Takang reports from Cameroon.

Lapiro's supporters have said the 51-year-old singer is victimised for his songs, which often criticise the government.

President Biya has been in power since 1982.

Cameroon makes way for a king
11 Apr 08 |  Africa
Cameroon head blames opposition
28 Feb 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Cameroon
22 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific