News / Africa

Campaigning Underway for Cameroon Presidential Poll

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

Campaigning for presidential elections set for October 9 is off to a sluggish start in Cameroon.

A handful of candidates have organized rallies in the capital, Yaounde, and commercial hub, Douala, but turnout has been moderate.

Candidates say the government has not yet paid out campaign financing grants as it did for the last election in 2004.

Longtime President Paul Biya, of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement, faces a record 22 challengers, but is expected to win re-election. The presidential poll is a single-round election, so the large field of candidates could split the vote in the president's favor.

Voters say the poll holds little suspense.

Douala resident Jean Claude Simo said he will vote because it is his civic duty, but commented that he and others already know what the results will be. He said judging from the campaigning going on right now, the ruling party will win. He said he does not think the election will change much in Cameroon.

Biya's built-in lead

Biya has not yet hit the campaign trail, but his banners dominate the main highways and urban centers. Ruling party Secretary General Rene Emmanuel Sadi kicked off the incumbent's campaign on state TV with a focus on experience.

"A man of experience, a level-headed, wise, tolerant, competent and determined statesman. This exceptional man has a balance sheet which speaks for itself," said Sadi.

Biya has been in power since 1982. He eliminated term limits from the constitution in 2008, fueling protests that killed at least 40 people.  Critics say that constitutional reform should have prevented him from running again.

Still, the country's fractured opposition has been unable to mount much of a challenge to Biya in the past. Opposition parties failed to unite behind a single coalition in the last election in 2004.

Biya won a landslide victory in that poll with more than 70 percent of ballots. His closest challenger, Ni John Fru Ndi, won only 17 percent.

Fru Ndi reaches out


Fru Ndi is again expected to be Biya's key competition at the polls. He heads the country's lead opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, which has backtracked on previous threats to boycott, and possibly disrupt, this election.

Opposition members accuse the electoral commission of being pro-ruling party and have expressed concern about irregularities on voter lists.

Fru Ndi is currently on a nationwide campaign tour, and told VOA that this connection to the people defines his candidacy.

"I go to the people. I don't wait for the people to come to me. The SDF is the only party that has toured this country 16 times in the past, and we are going now on the 17th tour," said Fru Ndi. "So we are talking about a country we know. We are talking about a people we know.  We are talking about people who know us."

If elected, Fru Ndi has pledged to decentralize the government and serve only three years of a seven-year term, as a time of transition for Cameroon following three decades of Biya's rule.

Cameroon has enjoyed a certain stability under Biya, but analysts say his stranglehold on power has left it with a weak political class and an uncertain future when the longtime ruler does leave power.

Ntaryike Divine Jr contributed reporting from Douala, Cameroon.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid