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Cameroon Ruling Party Headed For Big Election Victory


Provisional results in Cameroon's combined legislative and municipal elections show a landslide victory for President Paul Biya's ruling party. Opposition parties have alleged massive fraud and say they fear Mr. Biya will use his two-thirds majority in the assembly to eliminate the constitutional two-term limit. Naomi Schwarz has more from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

Opposition parties say they are going to challenge in court the results of the legislative and municipal elections, held on Sunday. They say the election was marred by massive fraud, including tampering with results, allowing some people to vote multiple times, and impeding others from voting at all.

Adamou Ndam Njoya is the national president of the Cameroonian Democratic Union, one of the country's main opposition parties.

"I think that we have to contest and so bring out the different problems," he said. "And we know that maybe the constitutional court will judge and appreciate, but I think that we shall create the sort of tradition so that this will no longer happen."

The National Election Observer Commission released a statement saying there were some minor irregularities, but they were not enough to change the outcome. But a coordinator for a group of election observers from African non-governmental organizations told reporters that fraud has been reported, including at least one case of ballot box stuffing. The coordinator said the majority of people are voting without identity cards.

Provisional results, released late on Monday, give an overwhelming victory to Mr. Biya's ruling party, the Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People. The party increased its majority in both the national assembly and in the municipalities.

The two main opposition parties lost seats in the National Assembly, with the Social Democratic Front down from 22 to 14 seats, and Njoya's party down to just four. Mr. Biya's party appears to have won at least 152 seats in the Assembly.

Local journalist Bayen Soné says people are frustrated but have become accustomed to problematic elections.

"It has been problematic elections since 1992, when we had the first multiparty elections in Cameroon," he explained. "It has always gotten worse. Every election has been worse than the previous one, because the ruling party, which the people understand and believe is unpopular, only makes gains in every election."

The opposition's court challenge will have to wait until official results are certified, which is not expected for about two weeks.

If the provisional results stand, the ruling party's 152 seats in the legislature will give Mr. Biya the two-thirds majority he needs to amend the constitution. Opposition parties have alleged that Mr. Biya intends to use this majority to eliminate the constitutional two-term limit for the president, allowing him to continue standing for election indefinitely.

Mr. Biya has been president for 25 years. Oil-rich Cameroon is consistently ranked by corruption watchdog, Transparency International, as one of the world's most corrupt nations, and Mr. Biya has been accused by critics of abusing human rights and the democratic process.

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