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Cameroon Opposition Contests Biya Victory - 2004-10-15

State radio in Cameroon has declared long-time President Paul Biya the winner in Monday's election, even though opposition parties are contesting the results.

State radio announced late Thursday that votes counted throughout Cameroon gave Mr. Biya more than 75 percent of the vote.

His closest challenger John Fru Ndi was credited with just over 17 percent, while former education minister Adamu Ndam Njoya earned less than five percent.

State radio said the Territorial Affairs Ministry, which is overseeing the counting, is still waiting for results from just 43 polling stations out of more than 20,000.

Main opposition parties said it was impossible results were nearly complete, as they said some of their delegates were still working on monitoring ballot counting in the capital Yaounde. They also disputed the government's estimate that turnout was at nearly 80 percent, since on voting day, few polling stations seemed busy.

The opposition has accused the government of manipulating the results and rigging the vote, through retention of voter cards in opposition areas, while allowing government supporters to vote several times. It also says many opposition representatives at polling stations were either paid off or scared away.

The parties of Mr. Fru Ndi and Mr. Njoya Thursday filed a formal complaint at the Supreme Court calling for the vote's cancellation, meeting the required deadline to do so.

A member of Mr. Njoya's political bureau, Aloysius Ajang warned there could also be social unrest if the results stand. "I'm very much afraid that this might be the calm before the storm. This indifference can be only temporary. If it continues and the situation does not change, I'm afraid we will not be able to account for that happening later," he said.

Political analyst Jean-Emmanuel Pondi says the opposition should blame itself for the outcome, as they presented 12 competing candidates against Mr. Biya, failing in their efforts to form a coalition. "I think it's normal that the opposition should complain, it's quite normal. But what I would suggest to the opposition is to have organized themselves before. They should have had a strategy. They should have had a common approach and surely they would have fared much better than they have when coming separately to the polls. So the problem to me is their organization and the way they have done compared to the party in power. And I think the results were predictable," he said.

The small number of international election observers on hand have so far said there were problems, but that overall the vote seemed free and fair.

While voting, President Biya, in power since 1982, said he hoped Cameroonians would accept the verdict of the vote peacefully and with dignity.

Results become official when the Supreme Court validates them, probably before the end of the month.