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.


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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs