News / Africa

Cameroon President Begins 30th Year in Power Amid Fraud Allegations

Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves outside a polling center after casting his vote in the capital Yaounde, October 9, 2011.
Cameroon's President Paul Biya waves outside a polling center after casting his vote in the capital Yaounde, October 9, 2011.

Cameroon's President Paul Biya starts his 30th year in office this week.

November 6, 1982.

If you were alive then, think about where you were and all you have done since. Every one of those days Paul Biya has been president of Cameroon.

He starts another seven-year term this week with political opponents condemning his re-election as fraudulent, much as they have claimed in every vote since the first multi-party contest in 1992.

CPDM

Political analyst Abgor Ambang says President Biya's longevity is partly the result of the strength of his ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) party.

“When you compare the preponderance of the CPDM in the field and their looming political and financial capacity and a very, very coercive party going to compete with a divided and lethargic opposition, it was an asymmetric struggle," Ambang said. "From there I think it was easy for us to actually foresee the victory of the CPDM.”

Ambang believes a candidate fielded by a unified opposition could have threatened President Biya this year. But like past elections, they came together only after the race was lost.

“At the time we expected the opposition parties to come together they did not," noted Ambang. "The stand at this point can only be moral solidarity. It is actually destitute of any serious commitment. I mean what is the raison d’être [reason for] of coming together when they failed to do this at the vital moment? And again, calling about the cancellation of results, enough grounds have not actually been advanced to justify such a decision."

Election observers

U.S. observers reported irregularities in the vote but say they did not affect the overall outcome. Former colonial power France urged authorities to correct problems before legislative elections in March.

Several relative newcomers to presidential politics finished ahead of veteran candidates. Ambang says that further undercut the opposition challenge to results as politicians are less likely to questions vote totals that show their support growing.

Jean de Dieu Momo is one such politician. He placed eighth, besting several more-experienced candidates. Momo says there was “a lot of fraud” but he doesn't think its a problem.

“We are satisfied because those frauds have not really changed my place in the group," Momo said. "I am number eight. And this is a very good place to jump the next time because now, an unknown personality, now they know that they can count on me. They can not do anything without me now. We are there.”

Opposition leader John Fru Ndi finished second, again, with 10 percent of the vote - his lowest share ever. His party's vice chairman, Joshua Osih, says the president's political opponents will come back stronger after learning from what went wrong this year.

“You need only a minimum of political goodwill to turn Cameroon around," Osih said. "And at the time we were going in for this election we believed, wrongfully, that this minimum goodwill would be around to make the election acceptable. But this didn't happen.”

Opposition criticized

Government spokesman, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, says President Biya's opponents continue to fail because they do not deliver in promises.

“They made a commitment: 'We are ready. We accept the rule of the game and at the end of the day we are ready to accept the verdict as it will be pronounced by the Supreme Court.' This is what they said. And now they refuse it and want the government to enter into negotiations with those people. Why?” asked Bakary.

Opposition leaders have failed to rally much public protest against the outcome. Douala voter Maureen Ndi says there is no appetite for a fight.

“I’m not ready to join in any protests. I believe that the happenings in other countries like Ivory Coast, Egypt and Libya are too fresh in our memories," Ndi said. "If it has to happen here, it is going to be terrible.  We have never experienced war. Cameroonians are suffering, but we want peace.”

Demonstrations have been discouraged by post-electoral troop deployments. Xavier Messe is a columnist with the daily Le Quotidien Mutations.

Messe says the Biya government gains nothing in spreading what he calls a “psychosis of war” in Cameroon. He says this notion of fear is not normal. When fear lives inside you, you are completely destabilized. No one has anything to gain through violence, but Messe says, ruling party supporters continue to spread this fear.

President Biya is kicking off his sixth term with a series of large public works projects in energy, mining, ports, and agriculture that he says will make Cameroon an emerging market economy by 2035. With the elimination of presidential term limits three years ago, Mr. Biya is eligible for re-election in 2018.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs