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Opposition Figure Rejects Cameroon’s ‘Scandal’ Election

  • Peter Clottey

Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves to supporters during the opening of his party conference, in Yaounde, September 15, 2011.

Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves to supporters during the opening of his party conference, in Yaounde, September 15, 2011.

The leader of Cameroon’s main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) says his party is legally challenging the “scandalous” October 9 general election. John Fru Ndi dismissed the election as fraught with voter irregularities and illegality.

The veteran opposition leader says his group maintains its position that Cameroon’s electoral board (ELECAM), in his words, is incapable of conducting an election that is free, fair and transparent. It’s a charge officials of the electoral body deny as without foundation.

“We’ve won in most of the areas where the results have come in so far and our tally is so high, despite the fraud and the irregularities and the illegalities which we pointed out to ELECAM before they ever conducted this election,” said Fru Ndi.” We told them from the [outset] that they were not capable of conducting elections that would be free, fair and transparent.”

ELECAM says it will release final results of the poll by October 24 - two weeks after the vote.

But Fru Ndi says his opposition SDF has gathered evidence that challenges the fairness and accuracy of last week’s vote.

“We are putting all our documentation together, despite the fact that we are winning, because it’s not just going to be an election [and] win. We want to see that the election gives the country the credibility she deserves,” he said. “Cameroonians were very determined and they stood by the ballot boxes [protect against] some of these things [fraud] that the party in power has planned.”

But officials of the ruling party dismiss the opposition leader’s claims that last Sunday’s vote was rigged to ensure incumbent President Paul Biya maintains his grip on power.

Shortly after voting President Paul Biya called on his country to be “indulgent” of any imperfections in the voting process, saying the world is not perfect. He said despite any irregularities, there is no intention to cheat.

Fru Ndi blames the reported low voter turnout on ELECAM.

“The unfortunate thing is that because of the [haphazard] registration [drive], they had so many people who could not vote. When some people found out that they didn’t have their voters’ card, they got angry and stayed home,” said Fru Ndi.

The electoral commission said about seven million Cameroonians registered to vote. They include, for the first time, citizens outside Cameroon, who were eligible to vote in the country’s embassies and consulates around the world.

Observers said turnout was extremely low, with many Cameroonians expressing apathy, saying the winner is already decided.