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Cameroon - 2020 Election 2019 Election

Cameroon’s presidency announced 10 November 2019 that parliamentary elections will be held on 09 February 2020, in the latest sign that veteran ruler Paul Biya is seeking to end a long-running political crisis. Opposition parties reacted cautiously to the presidential decree, with one spokesman urging a reform of the electoral code before the vote. The last parliamentary elections took place in 2013 for a mandate of five years, but President Biya, who has ruled Cameroon for 37 years, has twice postponed fresh polls. Biya, 86, was re-elected in 2018, but the result was contested by his main opposition rival in the vote, Maurice Kamto of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC).

Cameroon was to have held elections for the National Assembly, Senate & local offices in October 2019 (postponed from late 2018). Cameroon's government is a monarchy "dressed in the trappings of democracy". Cameroon is still a feudalist society as the relationship between the elites (ministers, senior officials, traditional) and the common people is more akin to lords and serfs than citizens of equal standing.

Cameroon’s president Paul Biya confirmed that the country would hold its presidential election on 07 October 2018, removing all doubts over whether the violence-gripped, oil-rich nation would make it to the polls. Biya, 85, had been in power since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. The decision to hold presidential elections came a few days after lawmakers adopted a bill that postponed parliamentary polls until October 2019. "The mandate of the deputies is extended for a period of twelve months, from October 29, 2018," read the bill, supported by Cameroon's President Paul Biya. It was explained that because of the simultaneity of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections in 2018, the organization of the legislative elections could be difficult.

The Cameroonian deputies adopted the extension of one year of their mandate, at the request of President Paul Biya. The parliamentary elections will therefore finally take place in 2019, after the general elections, including the presidential elections, scheduled for 2018. In question, "the holding - during the year 2018 - presidential, legislative and municipal elections at the same time", which would make "difficult their material organization," explained the president of Cameroon, 85 years, including 35 in power, in correspondence to Parliament. This was not the first time the executive has requested the postponement of legislative elections generally coupled with municipal elections. In 2012 for instance, the deputies and town councilors’ mandate was extended to 2013.

Analysts believe the elections will 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.

Unlike other autocratic leaders in Africa who take a more "hands-on" leadership approach, Biya is known for his "hands-off" style of rule. Like many Cameroonians, Affana notes that Biya uses public funds in the country with a high poverty rate to sustain a bureaucracy of 65 sycophantic ministers and state secretaries. He mostly governs by decree or with the help of laws rushed through a rubber-stamp parliament.

The spiraling crisis in Cameroon's Anglophone regions has tarnished President Paul Biya's reputation in the West as an arbiter of stability in tenuous central Africa and could threaten his long hold on power. In the predominantly English-speaking north- and south-west Cameroon - home to around five million people - protests by the Anglophones who complained of being marginalized by the Francophone-led government spilled over into violence in 2016 that has escalated since. Political observers believe that the arguably worsening crisis in Cameroon is largely due to the Biya regime's use of violence and brutality as a first resort.

Fighting had become almost daily between the Cameroonian security forces and armed men claiming the "restoration forces" of an English-speaking state that had briefly seen the day between the two world wars, under British mandate. According to the government, more than 80 members of the security forces were killed in the fighting. No record on the separatist side is available, while more than 600 people have been arrested since the beginning of the crisis, according to UN sources.

Cameroon’s opposition leader Maurice Kamto was charged 13 February 2019 with rebellion, insurrection and hostility against the homeland, more than two weeks after his arrest on 28 January. Kamto lost what he said was a fraudulent presidential election in October 2018 and was after organising a small rally against long-serving President Paul Biya. Security services broke up that rally with live fire, shooting and wounding six people, and have put down other rare anti-Biya protests across the country.

At least 73 people were arrested in demonstrations in Cameroon 01 June 2019 as thousands of supporters of Maurice Kamto, the man who they said won the October 7 presidential election, defied a heavy police presence and staged protests in several towns of the central African state. They were seeking the immediate release of their party leader, among other things, and scores of his supporters have been jailed since January 2019. At least a dozen people, including Kamto's first vice president, Mamadou Mota of the MRC party, have been arrested and detained in Yaounde and Douala.

Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Cameroon's minister of External Relations, warned any political action or initiative that questions the legitimacy and legality of Paul Biya as president of Cameroon is tantamount to undermining Cameroon state sovereignty and is intended to disrupt public peace. He says the country's constitutional council examined and threw out as baseless all petitions filed by those who contested the election and Cameroon's institutions.

Cameroon voted on February 9 in elections that have been postponed twice. But what with opposition boycotts, separatist intimidation and fears of violence, there was a lack of enthusiasm for the vote. Of the 180 seats that are allocated, only 46 can be awarded to the opposition parties. That means the ruling party is sure to hold 154 seats, even without an election campaign. Partly owing to the violence in the English-speaking parts of the country, the other major opposition party, the MRC (Cameroon Renaissance Movement), would not participate in the elections at all..

At the end of 2019, when President Paul Biya began the election process, separatists who want an independent state for Cameroon's generally marginalized English-speaking population called for a complete boycott of the polls and openly threatened those who wished to take part. They were deeply disappointed when the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), the erstwhile supporter of the Anglophone cause, did not also call for a boycott. .

In a few months, the separatist militias openly targeted candidates standing for the SDF, even though the English-speaking regions had traditionally been a stronghold of the party. Since the end of 2019, nearly 40 SDF members who expressed interest in running in the elections had been abducted by separatists, who say they won't release them until after the elections. The SDF's president, John Fru Ndi, has even been forced to leave his residence in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest Region, for Yaounde because of death threats made to him.

Legislative and municipal elections in Cameroon on 09 February 2020 were marked by low voter turnout – especially in the Central African nation’s two troubled western regions, where anglophone separatist rebels had called for a poll boycott. The elections – the first in seven years after two postponements – were subdued in the rest of the country. The opposition MRC party refused to put up candidates after their leader Maurice Kamto – who was jailed for nine months after losing the 2018 presidential election – refused to participate. Results from the elections were expected in two weeks’ time. They were unlikely to threaten the 37-year rule of President Paul Biya.

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Page last modified: 24-02-2020 18:12:52 ZULU