News / Africa

Cameroon’s Incumbent Leader Poised For Reelection

Over 7.5 million Cameroonians are expected at the polls Sunday to choose a leader for the Central African nation. Analysts are generally unanimous that incumbent President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, will be reelected amid widespread debate over his protracted stay in office.

Multimedia

Audio

The President Biya has won all three previous elections since multiparty politics were reintroduced in Cameroon in 1990.  On all those occasions, the opposition cried foul, alleging widespread fraud – but to no avail.

In 2008, the 78-year-old Biya eliminated term limits from the constitution to allow him run again.  He faces a history-making 22 challengers in the one-round ballot billed for Sunday, 9 October, and observers say he will likely win another seven-year mandate.

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

They are pointing to the fractured nature of the opposition, the large number of candidates, their weak public support, high voter apathy as well as nationwide hegemony enjoyed by Biya’s ruling Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement party, the CPDM.

Dr Abgor Ambang, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Yaoundé, says increasing state grants for financing campaigns may explain the rise in number of presidential aspirants from 16 at the last election in 2004 to 22 today.

"When you legalize about 243 political parties in a country," says Ambang,"the [main purpose] of a political party is the quest for state power. This is not the moment to ask those questions. All of us know this problem of ghost parties in Cameroon.  We are reducing a solemn event to a kind of stock exchange exercise where you have snipers and political merchants go and plough in money to make some gains."

The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, has traditionally emerged runner up in previous elections.  Observers say once again, the real fight will be between the CPDM and the SDF.

Its leader, Ni John Fru Ndi, says most of the currently existing parties have been set up by Biya to destabilize the opposition.  But Biya’s supporters say it is a clear sign of advancing democracy.

Election fever is steadily gaining momentum as the presidential aspirants crisscross the country, wooing the electorate and making unsustainable promises if elected.  Biya has himself hit the campaign trail, with a first outing to Maroua in the country’s far north region.

He says his vision to transform Cameroon into an emerging economy by 2035 will become reality over the next seven years.  Biya says he will set up the yet-to-be created senate and constitutional council, intensify the fight against corruption, undertake major infrastructure projects in the energy and transport sectors, relaunch agriculture and improve healthcare among others.

Cameroon’s Incumbent Leader Poised For Reelection
Cameroon’s Incumbent Leader Poised For Reelection

But critics insist 30 years of Biya’s rule has left Cameroon grappling to emerge from underdevelopment, sluggish growth, prevalent poverty and chronic corruption despite its vast natural resources.  Many say his likely reelection will not herald any substantial change.  Serge Nloga is a resident of the country’s largest city and commercial hub, Douala.

"I don’t think so," says Nloga.  "Not at all!  But in every case as a citizen, I am obliged to vote. But I don’t think it will change anything."

And across the country, many are complaining they cannot find their voter cards despite parrticiping the voters registration drive. Others say their names are not included on voter lists.

The prevailing impression within the opposition is that such complaints indicate planned malpractice being orchestrated by the government and the elections management body, Elections Cameroon, or ELECAM. Elizabeth Tamanjong is the SDF’s secretary general.

"Everything is being put in place by the regime and ELECAM is fraudulent," she says. "They don’t want transparent elections.  Why do I say this?  The issues of double voter cards – even the names of dead people are on voter lists.  It is really embarrassing.  I have had people calling me from the whole national territory to tell me some have four, five voter cards.

ELECAM was created in 2008 and has frequently come under heavy opposition criticism as most of its members are from the ruling party.  But officials say they are keen on conducting a free and fair poll.

The SDF’s Fru Ndi says the government and ELECAM will be held responsible if things go sour after the election. He says it’s the last time he is running for the post of president and intends to set up a three-year transitional government as well as a four-state federation.

"I want Mr Biya’s government to take note that Cameroonians are politically aware and very sensitive and that’s why they boycotted the registration," says Fru Ndi. "We had to push them hard to register.  They are saying that they’re to vote for the last time and to defend their votes so that they shouldn’t rig them again."

A year ago, Fru Ndi threatened to boycott and possibly disrupt the election if the government failed to enact reforms.  The government reacted by appointing civil society actors into ELECAM.  Now, he says will change his mind and encourage demonstrations if the election results are doctored.

But in the streets of Douala, many say they would abstain from protests.  Maureen Ndi is from the same region as the SDF leader.

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

Over 24,000 polling stations nationwide will open at 8am and close at 6 pm Sunday. This year marks the first time Cameroonians living overseas will participate in the presidential election.  Results are not expected until a few days later and they will be proclaimed by the Supreme Court, acting in place of the Constitutional Council.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs