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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez 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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs