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Cameroon Opposition Leader Demands Democratic Reforms

  • Peter Clottey

The leader of Cameroon’s main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party is demanding more democratic reforms that would guarantee a free and fair vote ahead of next year’s general elections.

John Fru Ndi said incumbent President Paul Biya’s ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) has so far failed to put in structures that would ensure next year’s elections are transparent.

“The SDF has always asked for free, fair and transparent elections but, unfortunately, the elections are next year and Mr. (President) Biya doesn’t care whether people are registered or not. At least the parties in parliament should be able to make a contribution, but always they are not consulted at all and they don’t care,” he said.

President Paul Biya

President Paul Biya

President Paul Biya’s CPDM party has ruled Cameroon since independence.

But opposition leader Ndi said the ruling party has won recent elections that have been largely flawed – a charge supporters of the dominant CPDM sharply deny.

“They have their fraudulent sweeping and crushing majority, which they think they have. And, today you have people telling you oh we won elections [but] meanwhile all these elections were rigged. And, with this rigging, we do not know how they are going to conduct the elections next year,” Ndi said.

Several opposition groups, including the SDF recently accused the dominant CPDM party of plotting to rig the 2011 general elections by seizing control of vote preparations from a specially created independent body.

This comes after members of the ruling party in parliament passed a bill that grants President Biya’s government oversight of poll preparations through the Ministry of Territorial Administration -- a task previously undertaken by Cameroon’s Independent Electoral Commission or ELECAM.

But supporters of the ruling party dismissed the accusation as mere opposition propaganda, saying the administration is committed to ensuring a fair vote.

Opposition leader Ndi said Cameroonians don’t have faith in the electoral system.

“Cameroonians are going through a state of apathy, [and] a state of no confidence. If we say we are going for elections, we don’t know which of the electoral register we are using. A state of no confidence where Cameroonians don’t have any confidence at all whatsoever at all in the electoral system,” Ndi said.

He also said President Biya has weakened the existing unity between the country’s majority French-speaking population and the English-speaking minority.

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