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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid