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Another Opposition Leader Enters Race for Cameroon Presidency - 2004-09-16

Just hours before the deadline, a main opposition leader in Cameroon has broken ranks with the opposition coalition to stand as a candidate for the presidential elections in October. President Paul Biya, who has just announced his own candidacy for another term, will have to beat at least two main rivals in order to hold on to the post.

On the final day to declare candidacy for next month's presidential elections in Cameroon, the founding leader of the Social Democratic Front, John Fru Ndi announced he would also run.

A coalition of a dozen main opposition parties, which includes the SDF, already announced that Adamou Ndam Njoya from the Cameroon Democratic Union would be the candidate to represent the coalition. But Mr. Fru Ndi told VOA that protocol was not followed in the selection of Mr. Ndam Njoya.

"Yes, I am going on my own and if they can come for us to talk and the methods that we have laid down to choose the candidate and they will go through all of this and if Mr. Ndam Njoya is selected, I will withdraw my candidature," he said.

He says the coalition had organized to follow a three-step process in the selection of a unifying candidate. Mr. Fru Ndi is giving the coalition one week to reconsider the process before he begins campaigning.

"They held us by ambush," Mr. Fru Ndi said. "We laid down about three conditions. They went through the first one and announced the results when we didn't go through the second and third. If they don't come for us for this course in one week, I'll get my campaign team out and we, I will start."

The incumbent, President Paul Biya, who has ruled the west African nation since 1982, will run for re-election on October 11. Mr. Fru Ndi lost to President Biya during the 1992 elections and claimed the elections were rigged. Opposition parties boycotted elections in 1997 because they claimed there was not enough notice given to prepare.

There has been concern over fair elections and voter registration during the past two elections. The election watchdog group, Transparency International will send independent monitors to Cameroon.