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Cameroon Opposition Cries Foul Over Early Election Results - 2004-10-12


The opposition in Cameroon is accusing the government of manipulating results from Monday's presidential vote. Partial results announced by the government indicate President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, is headed for another victory.

Speaking to VOA from his western stronghold in Bamenda, main opposition leader John Fru Ndi said the elections were destined to fail.

A member of his communication team in Yaounde, Jean Takougang, accused the government of using the same tricks he said it used in announcing results from partial legislative elections in 2002.

"The results, they are false results because all the time they start announcing trends," he said. "When populations do not react, the trends become final results. They are fraudulent results."

Official early results were announced by State Minister of Territorial Affairs Marafa Hamidou Yaya.

He preceded the release of early results by saying Mr. Biya had done well in all regions. He then gave percentages from several polling stations. Opposition candidates were announced as winners only in several western areas and in parts of the main city, Douala. Official results will not be known until the end of October.

At the headquarters of the coalition of opposition parties supporting former education minister Adamou Ndam Njoya, activists angrily looked over the results.

A member of the coalition's political bureau, Aloysius Ajang, says one the many problems is that only the ruling party had representatives at all polling stations.

"The results do not reflect the real expression of the Cameroonian people," he said. "This is a result of the domination of the ruling party in several of the polling stations where we had duly accredited representatives, but for one reason or the other they were bought over and some of them did not even come out. And so this left the view clear for all kinds of manipulations."

One opposition representative who did stay on, Denis Njuabe, has knife wounds on both his arms. He says unidentified men attacked him after lights went out at a polling station during vote counting in Yaounde.

He also disputes government estimates that turnout was more than 70 percent. He says many opposition activists could not vote because their names were dropped from voting lists, while many government supporters voted multiple times.

"The turnout, it was poor," he said. "There were cards lying there. There were voters, militants who did not even have the cards to vote, but then there were people, the CDPM [ruling party] people who came with multiple cards, voting. So up to now, we do not know what really happened."

While voting, President Biya called for all Cameroonians to peacefully accept the verdict of the ballot. Several international monitors on hand say they needed a few more days to prepare their reports, but they indicated there had been many problems.

In the capital, Yaounde, there were no signs of protests while many residents could be seen wearing pro-government T-shirts and hats. One gas station attendant, Elvis Nji, welcomed indications Mr. Biya would remain in power for seven more years.

"I see that Mr. Paul Biya is very good in the safety way that I like it," he said. "I like the situation for the moment, I do not want any change."

Results become official when the Supreme Court validates them, most likely in the coming weeks.