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Cameroon - 2018 Election

In the October 7, 2018 vote, incumbent Paul Biya sought an extension of his mandate. President Paul Biya had ruled Cameroon for 36 years and is expected to win another seven-year term. Cameroon's fractured opposition was unable to rally behind a strong challenger to the 85-year-old leader. The body in charge of the process, Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, cleared Biya and eight other aspirants to contest for the presidency. The vote will be the last installment of a busy election year. Voting for the legislative chambers were conducted earlier in the year.

In July 2018 the date of the presidential election was set for 07 October 2018. Opposition supporters criticized the move “It is difficult to understand that in a democratic country, the President of the Republic expected to be candidate during the elections holds the exclusive right to choose the date for an election. In other countries where democracy is ideal, the date of the presidential election is known at least twelve months in advance, “ a leading opposition spokesman Robert Wafo said.

Aged 84, Paul Biya is one of the world’s oldest heads of state – and one of the longest-serving, having ruled uncontested since 1982. His current mandate ends in 2018. Nicknamed “the Sphinx” due to his taste for secrecy, by early 2018 the octogenarian president remained silent about his plans to seek a seventh term in office. But the abrupt demise of his Zimbabwean peer Robert Mugabe and the growing unrest in Cameroon’s Anglophone provinces are ill omens ahead of planned October elections. If Biya heeded calls for him to step aside, his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) is likely to supply a hand-picked successor.

The opposition in Cameroon defied police and continued protests in April 2016 against efforts by the ruling party to organize early elections, with several protesters having been wounded or arrested. The opposition, which encouraged protesters to dress in black on Sunday, said Cameroon President Paul Biya, 84, is angling to be "president for life” after 34 years already in office. Kah Wallah, opposition leader of the Cameroon People's Party (CPP), said they are dressed in black as a symbol of sadness over Biya's long stay in power and persistent brutality against voices opposing his attempt to be "president for life." Biya revised the constitution in 2008 to remove presidential term limits.

Traditional leaders, Section Presidents and political elites of the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) of the three northern Regions, notably the Adamawa, North and Far North, have urged the President of the Republic and Chairman of the CPDM to be candidate in the next presidential election. In a Motion of Support and Deference issued after a meeting hosted by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril on January 29, 2016 in Yaounde, the elites said their support is to enable Paul Biya pursue the process of nation building which he has already engaged with wisdom and experience for a peaceful, united, democratic, prosperous, emergent and strong Cameroon.

Calls for Paul Biya to stand for the 2018 presidential election in Cameroon, were at the heart of the March 2016 celebrations of the 31st anniversary of Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement. Biya, 84, had been president of the Central African country since 1982. He has yet to declare any intentions to contest in the 2018 polls but indications showed that it is just a matter of time.

Opposition parties decided in March 2017 to come together to nominate only one candidate, but their plans failed to materialize. Akere Muna, the only opposition figure in Cameroon to have declared his candidature for the presidential polls by October 2017. The top anti-corruption crusader and celebrated lawyer was pushing for a united opposition front to face Biya.

The country's second ever senatorial election was held 25 March 2018. Cameroon's senate or upper house of parliament is made up of 100 seats. 70 are elected and 30 are appointed by the president as per the country's constitution. Each of the 10 regions of the country has 10 senate seats. Since the institution went into effect in 2013, some Cameroonians said it did not serving the purpose for which it was created. It failed to examine laws handed over by the lower house of parliament.

Most of the campaigning takes place between political parties, their candidates and the Electoral College that comprises of 9,600 municipal councilors. A majority of the councilors belong to President Paul Biya's ruling Cameroon’s People Democratic Movement (CPDM) party, but the opposition believed it still has a chance to win. Since it is a secret ballot vote, some councilors may not vote for the CPDM. Anglophone separatists groups warned that they will not allow elections in the English-speaking south and southwest regions, which they now refer to as Ambazonia.

Analysts believed the elections would end with the CPDM scoring a crushing majority. The party has always insisted on what it calls party discipline and instructs its representatives to obey party hierarchy.

The elections marked the start of a busy electoral calendar to be followed by council, legislative and presidential elections later in the year.

President Paul Biya, who had already served 35 years in power, did not announce whether he would run for a seventh re-election, but his supporters present him as the “ideal” candidate of the presidential majority. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, has already nominated Joshua Osih as its candidate. Other candidates have already declared themselves, including the lawyer and former vice-president of Transparency International, Akere Muna, former student leader of a citizen’s movement Cabral Libii and renowned jurist Maurice Kamto.

Materials meant for Cameroon’s upcoming presidential elections were printed in Germany. Among others: there were ballot sheets, indelible ink, ink pads, results collation sheets, permanent markers and other pieces of stationery to be employed by election officials.

Officials and African Union observers described the 07 October 2018 presidential election as largely successful. Authorities reported minor irregularities and some election-related violence, but said it was not enough to influence the outcome of the poll. More than 7,000 observers, including the African Union, monitored Cameroon's election. Anglophone separatists want autonomous rule from the government in Yaounde and had vowed on social media to prevent the election. With security high in Cameroon's English-speaking northwest and southwest, the separatists were unable to carry out their threat.

Official results were not expected for two weeks. Opposition Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) candidate Maurice Kamto claimed victory in the presidential polls despite a government warning not to announce unofficial results. "I have received a clear mandate from the people and I intend to defend it until the end," he said. "I invite the outgoing president to organise a peaceful way to transfer power," Kamto added. The opposition candidate did not give results to justify his claim, which was greeted by loud cheers from supporters as he made his announcement.

Cameroon's longtime leader Paul Biya was declared the winner of the country's October 7 presidential poll on October 22, 2018. Opposition parties rejected the results, but the Constitutional Council had already thrown out petitions to nullify the election. Angry protesters came out singing that Biya had stolen Maurica Kamto's victory but were quickly dispersed by heavily armed troops. According to the results, incumbent President Paul Biya won a landslide victory with 71 percent of the vote. His strongest challenger, Maurice Kamto, was a distant second with 14 percent. Seven other candidates scored vote percentages in the single digits. Voter turnout was 53 percent nationwide but much lower in the volatile northwest and southwest regions, where government forces had been fighting separatist movements. Biya won more than 80 percent of the votes cast in those regions.

Biya had been in power for over 40 years in Cameroon, seven as prime minister, 36 as president. In 2008, he removed term limits from the constitution, allowing him to serve indefinitely. When his new term is finished, he would be 93 years old.

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Page last modified: 27-10-2018 18:35:19 ZULU