Ruling party routs opposition in Cameroon election

Veteran Cameroon President Paul Biya’s ruling party routed the opposition in parliamentary elections on the weekend that his main opponents have already denounced as a sham, provisional results showed on Tuesday.

Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) secured a crushing majority of 152 of the 180 National Assembly seats, up from 149 in the previous legislature, with six seats to come.

The main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) clinched just 15 seats, down from 22 in the last legislature, although three of the six remaining seats are in the north-western heartland of party leader John Fru Ndi.

The remaining seats went to minor opposition parties. The CPDM also won control of at least 309 of the 354 local councils in parallel municipal elections held on Sunday.

“It is clear that the CPDM remains the biggest party in the country with a truly national representation, while the SDF ... remains the biggest opposition party but concentrated only in one region,” Hamidou Yaya Marafa, the Territorial Administration Minister, said as he announced the results late on Monday.

Marafa, a CPDM stalwart, is also the chief electoral officer for the Central African country, which has English and French-speaking regions left over by European colonialism.

Fru Ndi, the main political leader from the Anglophone minority, and other opposition leaders have already dismissed the election as fraudulent.

Fru Ndi said ink used to mark voters’ fingers to stop them voting twice could be washed off, and accused the ruling party of transporting voters from other areas to vote in the mainly English-speaking north-western areas where he is popular.

“We easily recognise them because they speak only French,” Fru Ndi told Reuters.

“Our party representatives have been chased away from polling stations in many areas, SDF ballot papers are not available in some areas, CPDM people are distributing money and intimidating voters in several constituencies, etc, etc.
In short, these elections are a sham, a complete masquerade.”

Expiry date

Biya has been in power for 25 years and with his second and final elected term under a 1996 Constitution due to expire in 2011, the opposition said it could not afford to boycott polls for fear he would change the Constitution and seek another term.

Marafa acknowledged minor irregularities but said they were “not in the nature of influencing the outcome of the polls”.

Announcing the partial results on Monday, he said national turnout had been 62%—higher than some independent estimates.—Reuters

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