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Cameroon plans February polls under shadow of violence

Yaounde (Cameroon) (AFP) – Cameroon is poised to hold parliamentary and municipal elections in February but a bloody separatist conflict and political tensions are set to cloud the vote, experts say.

Anglophone separatists are fighting government troops in western Cameroon while the north of the country has come under attack from Boko Haram jihadists.

“These elections will not have optimum credibility,” Cameroonian academic Richard Makon told AFP, contending that in the present climate, “peaceful” polls were impossible.

“The security challenges in the Northwest and Southwest Regions are enormous,” he said, referring to a conflict between English-speaking separatists and security forces that have claimed more than 3,000 lives in two years.

The two regions with an anglophone colonial past are home to around 16 percent of the population of 25.8 million in the mainly francophone country.

In a remote region called the Far North, about a tenth of the population lives in deep poverty and at the mercy of Boko Haram.

Southern Cameroon long avoided such troubles, until men from the west recently launched ethnic attacks, wounding several people and setting businesses ablaze.

Despite the unrest, in a surprise move veteran President Paul Biya recently announced elections on February 9.

Members of parliament and town councils were last elected in 2013. Their five-year mandates ran out in 2018, but Biya has extended them twice.

The 86-year-old Biya has ruled the country for 37 years. He was returned to office in an election last year, which saw a significant drop in votes in the English-speaking regions.

– Plunging back into chaos? –

The 2018 presidential election triggered a major political crisis.

The runner-up, Maurice Kamto, immediately challenged the result and his Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) held protests.

Arrested at one of the demonstrations, Kamto was jailed in January but released in October following foreign pressure.

The 65-year-old opposition leader has since been denied permission to organise rallies.

The MRC has for months insisted that holding elections should depend on a definitive return to peace in the anglophone regions.

Kamto’s party has not said if it will contest the poll, though individual CRM members have announced they will run for office.

“The risk is that Cameroon will plunge into the chaos of post-electoral confrontation,” Emmanuel Simh, the CRM’s third vice-president, said.

“It will enshrine the partition of the country — on one hand, we will have the francophone regions where the population will be able to vote, and on the other, the anglophone regions where it will be impossible to do so,” he warned.

– Special status –

Last month, Biya’s regime arranged what it called a “major national dialogue” to settle the anglophone crisis but the main separatist movements boycotted the forum.

One of the key recommendations of the talks was more autonomy for the English-speaking regions.

But the initiative must be adopted by parliament, which has yet to consider the proposal.

The election announcement was a surprise, given that the resolutions of the major national dialogue “have not even begun to be taken into account”, Makon said.

“It’s a little hard to envisage elections being held in the best conditions to produce legitimate winners who are accepted by the population,” he said.

Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) is a colossus with 148 seats in the 180-member national assembly.

For all their doubts, opposition parties are caught between a rock and a hard place, Makon said.

“They must take part in the election because if they don’t, they will be shut out of political decisions for five years,” he said.

On the other hand, he argued, the ruling party “will no longer have a crushing majority… because of the ground taken by the MRC and the rise of (other) parties.”

He gave as an example the Cameroon Party for National Reconciliation (PCRN), led by Cabral Libii, a 39-year-old journalist who placed third in the 2018 presidential poll.

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13 comments

  1. We now have indisputable evidence that all countries following the American model of holding periodic elections will not succeed in the process of economic transformation, industrialization and modernization. For example Argentina break independent from Spain since the 18th century, but maintained the model of periodic elections. Up till now it has not succeeded in economic modernization and industrialization. But South Korea, Japan, and China have modernise and industrialise withen 50 years using thier own model. This is to say, it will be impossible for us to succeed by simply coping a system that has failed those who crafted it. South Korea, s economy is far better than that of France. But it does not steal from other countries.

    • @BAH acho.At school I was thought misinformation is false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive..Either u live in a world where u have lost reality, disconnected to reality or u willingly mislead people here.
      South Korea and JApan , the examples u just mention have adopted a system of preiodic elections and are very advanced..Those elected govts have a project in place, are patriotic citizens with love and respect for their country.
      Cameroon is governed by a gang of thieves that have any plan of action..They have hijacked the system and have thought cameroonians descrimination, divide and rule and just to always wait for the govt to bring them bread and sardine.
      Elections are good and change is very good too.
      Eat your bread,sardine, and sleep

    • @BAH:-What u dont want to accept is that Elections provide an important opportunity to advance democratization and encourage political liberalization. For an election to be free and fair, certain civil liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, association and assembly, are required. … Elections also serve to encourage political debate and public dialogue..
      Is that the case with Cameroon ?.NO..
      The BULU-BETI clan have hijack cameroon economy, made the people lazy, no jobs for the youths..
      And you BAH ACHO being a bread and sardine eater, will prefer to have that man call Biya to stay in power and make sure there is no prosperity..
      Anything is better than BIYA..even a dog will take cameroon out of this mess..
      We want free and fair elections and a change NOW or NEVER..

      • BIKO,,,, your thinking is not different from that of Christians.in strategic thinking, it is said that if you can’t get rid of an obstacle find another strategy to deviate it and move forward. But you people are on the same spot for more than 20 years asking the same thing. The more it looks impossible the more convinced you are to obtain it. Is that not stupidity at the highest level?

        • @BAH:_ if there is something i agree with you, its the simple fact that you now accept there is an obstacle we need to get rid of …
          This obstacle is in power since 1982..This obstacle will be chased out of cameroon and hopefully be buried out of the country as AHIDJO..This obstacle has brought stagnation and today there is a war of liberation going on to get rid of this obstacle..
          What you have to know is that:
          Politics and Economics are subjects that go hand in hand because one will always have an impact on the other. Economics studies the ways in which external factors influence the economy and politics is one of the many external factors that has an impact on the economy.

          So when we clean that dirt and Germs in Etoudi all will be fine..
          Take it or leave it..Live in denial as always.

  2. **** ATTENTION, ATTENTION, ATTENTION ****

    The FAKE Amba boys of ex-convict Atanga Nji have been instructed to attack the so-called peace caravan to SC and even kill the men of God.
    LRC government will then tell the world that that heinous crime was committed by our restoration forces
    Cardinal Tumi and Bishop Nkea should take special note that SC is an ISLAND OF WAR. The caravan sent by the GOC to preach the so-called peace is another diabolic agenda of Dictator Biya.
    Any person in his right mind will agree with me that PEACE and JUSTICE are “one and indivisible”. Simply put, there can NEVER EVER be GENUINE peace without GENUINE justice. Dictator Biya should, therefore, stop playing to the gallery and resolve the Anglophone Question if he really wants peace to reign in the country.

    • Amba Girls and Amba Boys have been instructed to disrupt any elections in SC. Any ELECAM member who dares to set feet on SC territory will be considered as ENEMY COMBATTANT and will be treated as such.
      Simply put, there will be ZERO elections in SC. The GOC is fully aware of that. However, they will try to deceive the international community by:

      1. publishing the figures fabricated in Etoudi
      2. contracting FAKE election monitors to validate the fabricated figures
      3. give the SDF enough seats and money to act as accomplices to the deceit and deception

      The above-mentioned dirty tricks notwithstanding, the “secessionists”, the international community, the party of Prof. Kanto, the Brigard Anti-Sardinard, etc will dismiss the elections in SC as a sham and therefore a NON-EVENT.

    • Apologists of the GOC said that the removal of AGOA privileges was a NON-EVENT. However, now the GOC is BEGGING the US to reconsider her decision. The US, Amnesty International, Human Rights etc have with the help of satellite imagery documented the burning down of more than 400 villages in SC, countless extrajudicial killings, etc, by the so-called ” professional” army. The AGOA decision was based on facts. LRC is a lawless country ruled by deceit, deception and terror.

  3. #1. Veteran President, Paul Biya??????
    #2. Contest the polls???????

    • When all the old remedies fail to work, it is time to try something new. Be creative!

      How about declaring a moratorium of one month, pleading with the nation’s brains (University professors)
      to retire to their various campuses, brainstorm and advise the nation which way to go?????????

      • I agree on a moratorium Of one month JD @ but,
        why would university profs be churning anything new ? In comparison to joe blogs ? They are on a higher govermental pay packet so they are hardly going to take responsibility to a true picture .
        Do they want to loose their french jobs? it was one of the original complaints of sparse english higher education that led to matters in the first place .There were bona fida examples of educational struggles to this end on this very blog !
        Nah ,free up the press,print what you report ,6 hour tv debates night and day in both local and Nat languages behind screens random geography ,normal people,especially youths female and male, we have new tv vans for on the road reporting ,up and running don’t we ?

  4. Any political party going in for elections, is eying but free money. Remember, that Fru
    Ndi, had adviced that people take whatever from Biya, because this is free gov`t money.
    If people were the reason for any elections in that country, many of the position holders,
    will not be scrambling for any elections now. Forget about any excuses, that anyone will
    advance. This is the truth since 1992.

  5. ZERO ELECTIONS in Ambazonia.

    Period.

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