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.



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

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs