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Africa

Cameroon main opposition leader Maurice Kamto released

media Maurice Kamto of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon at a news conference in Yaounde. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Cameroon's main opposition leader Maurice Kamto has walked free from jail after a military court ordered his release at the behest of President Paul Biya.

Kamto was greeted by hundreds of supporters as he was driven away surrounded by a dozen-strong escort of klaxon-blaring vehicles.

The opposition leader was released after nine months imprisonment, and 102 others in detention were also set for release after Biya unveiled a series of surprise conciliatory gestures "if they have not been detained for anything else," the court said.

Kamto's lawyer Sylvain Souop said: "We note the release of our client who should not have been in prison. Maurice Kamto is free."

Biya on Friday announced he had ordered prosecutions to be dropped against "some" opposition leaders, including a number from the main Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon led by his jailed rival Kamto.

Kamto went on trial with 88 others in a military court in September on charges of insurrection, hostility to the motherland and rebellion -- crimes which could carry the death penalty.

Kamto was arrested in late January after months of peaceful opposition protests over the results of the October 2018 election won by Biya, who has been in power for 37 years.

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