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10 Aug 2007 17:53
Veteran Cameroon President Paul Biya’s ruling party retained a sweeping majority in Parliament in last month’s legislative elections, albeit with slightly fewer seats, official results showed on Friday.
The Central African country’s Supreme Court said Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) had won 140 of 180 seats in the National Assembly in the July 22 polls, down from 149 in the previous legislature.
Polls were annulled in five constituencies, including 17 seats previously declared as won by the CPDM, because of what the national vote counting commission called “gross irregularities”. Polls in those areas would be re-run within 60 days.
“I want to thank our militants and supporters for voting massively for our party,” CPDM deputy secretary general Grégoire Owona told reporters after the results were announced.
“I am calling on those in areas where elections were cancelled to remain steadfast to the party and re-mobilise themselves for victory in the coming by-elections,” he said.
Opposition parties have denounced the polls as a sham, saying ink used to mark voters’ fingers and stop them voting twice was easily washed off and accusing the ruling party of transporting its militants to vote in opposition strongholds.
“We are not surprised because these [results] were planned by the CPDM regime before we even went to the polls,” said John Fru Ndi, leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), which clinched just 14 seats, down from a previous 22.
There had been calls for opposition parties to boycott last month’s elections.
But Biya has been in power for 25 years and with his second and final elected term due to expire in 2011, the opposition said it could not afford a boycott for fear he would later change the Constitution unopposed and seek another term.—Reuters
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