YAOUNDE Cameroon has created a body to buy and regulate the price of basic food imports, a minister said on Thursday in an apparent bid avoid a repeat of price rises that caused violent protests three years ago.
The spike in food prices in 2008 led to riots, during which 100 people were killed by the central African nation's security forces. President Paul Biya is expected to seek re-election later this year.
The government-run Agency for the Regulation of Supplies of Basic Consumption Goods will import and stock major food items that will be sold only at approved prices, Trade Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana said on state radio.
"The decision does not forbid other enterprises from importing food products into the country," said the minister. "But (it is) just to ensure prices do not go beyond the reach of the average Cameroonian."
A wave of unrest hit a number of West and Central African countries in 2008, causing political instability.
Following the violence in Cameroon, the president lowered customs duties on food items including fish, wheat, salt and sugar. For now, food prices in Cameroon remain stable.
But global food prices hit a record high in January, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday, adding that prices, already above the 2008 levels which sparked riots, were likely to rise further.
(Reporting by Tansa Musa; Editing by David Lewis)