Doctors in Cameroon have gone on strike and have left patients without critical care in the capital, Yaoude.

This is the latest in a string of union actions that have crippled a country in the midst of political crisis.

The doctors’ union, known as SYMEC, demanded better working conditions and pay and left nurses to attend to sick patients in some of Yaounde’s major hospitals.

The strike was not directly linked to other union action, but it adds to the turmoil in the central African country where protests have erupted since October in the Anglophone south, and northwest regions.

Teachers and lawyers have been on strike for months to protest at what they say is their marginalisation by the French-speaking majority under President Paul Biya’s 35-year rule.

In reaction, the government has shut down the internet in English-speaking areas.

At Yaounde’s Central Hospital. a Reuters witness said, patients angrily waited to be seen, clutching prescriptions and test results, but there were no doctors in sight.

“My father had a motorcycle accident and must undergo surgery today.

“`There are no surgeons, we are told that there is a strike, and the nurse told us that they only deal with the sick in-house or by appointment,” said Marianne Balla, who was waiting in the Central Hospital.

The government said the strike was illegal as SYMEC is not a legally recognised union, a charge the union dismissed as untrue.

It was not clear how well observed the strike was in other parts of the country.