The Cameroonian government has apologised to the nation of Israel for "deplorable" comments made on TV by a government minister about the Holocaust.

In a statement, it distanced itself from Deputy Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Momo, saying he was speaking as a private individual, not on behalf of the government.

This is a copy of the full statement, issued in French:


Asked on state television on Sunday why he thought opposition leader Maurice Kamto had refused to accept defeat following the 7 October presidential election, Mr Momo had used long-established anti-Semitic stereotypes:

In Germany, there was a race of very rich people. They had enormous economic power. And they were so arrogant that the German people felt a little nervous. Then one day, a certain Hitler came to power and put these populations in gas chambers."

Mr Kamto, the leader of the MRC, comes from the Bamiléké ethnic group who have a reputation for being successful businessmen.

Mr Momo, who is also an ethnic Bamiléké, said it would be wrong for the group to seek political power alongside their economic influence, and suggested that trying to do so could be dangerous for the entire community.

Cameroon's contrite statement follows outrage from Israel, who on Monday demanded an "immediate apology" for the minister's comments. The Israeli Embassy in Yaoundé had called it a "big disappointment for bilateral relations" between the two countries.