October 10, 2011 § 4 Comments
Two killed in unstable Bakassi region while securing presidential election expected to be won by incumbent Paul Biya.
Two military policemen were killed in the unstable southwestern Bakassi region of Cameroon while securing presidential elections there, the government has said.
They were killed on Sunday by “armed men who have not yet been identified” in Isanguele district, Marafa Hamidu Yaya, the interior minister, told reporters as votes were being counted across the country.
“These brave elements of our security forces were on a mission to secure the electoral process,” the minister said. “All steps are being taken to find and apprehend their killers.”
Several groups, often armed, operate in the coastal Bakassi peninsula, carrying out assaults and kidnappings the authorities blame on pirates.
About seven million Cameroonians were eligible to vote for a president on Sunday with incumbent Paul Biya almost assured of extending his 29-year rule amid signs of apathy in a ballot the opposition termed a “mess”.
Earlier in the day, voters faced delays and organisational shortfalls in parts of the country.
Biya, 78, is viewed as keeping his place among the clutch of African leaders in power for decades. And rivals had alleged the vote was skewed against them.
There were no official turnout figures but voting appeared sluggish in the capital Yaounde.
Many Cameroonians appeared indifferent to the election campaign, feeling the vote was a foregone conclusion.
Results could take days to emerge.
Election observers said voting was peaceful but cited delays at some polling stations and irregularities such as some voters being allowed to jump the queue.
After voting ended, a Reuters reporter in Yaounde saw 19 polling stations where ballots were being counted without the required presence of candidates’ representatives.
“Some polling stations opened late, some appeared unclear on the rules about how votes are cast,” Commonwealth observer mission leader Frederick Mitchell said by telephone.
Biya’s main rival, John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), said a surplus of voting slips meant some had voted twice in certain parts of the country and said election body Elecam would be blamed for the “disorder and confusion”.
Casting his vote in Yaounde, Biya asked for patience. “It [Elecam] is a young organisation … I’m just asking
that there should be indulgence in any eventual imperfection. There was no intention to fraud,” he said.
In the last election in 2004, Biya scored just over 70 per cent, while his closest rival Ndi took 17 per cent.
- Cameroon presidential polls open (bbc.co.uk)
- Longtime Cameroon leader seeks 4th decade in power (ctv.ca)
- Cameroon voters slow to polls, incumbent seeks win (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Cameroon’s October 9th presidential election is fast approaching, and social media is being used to create a dialogue, raise concerns and share information about the event.
The country’s incumbent, Paul Biya of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, has been in power for 30 years despite general dissatisfaction and outcries for the president to step down. There are currently 23 candidates in the race with John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front running a distant second to Biya.
The blogging community, Global Voices, is running special coverage entitled Cameroon Elections 2011 that features blog posts from citizens around the world about the elections. The bloggers have discussed various issues surrounding the election, many accusing Biya of election corruption such as paying off politicians to falsely run against him.
CNN has reported on Biya’s “complacent attitude” since he has not been campaigning in the field. His behavior implies that Biya “plans to win through election rigging and fraud.” Youth are allegedly being paid by Biya to support the leader in the streets, and nearly all government campaigning money has been distributed to his party alone.
The Twitter community is also closely following the election, sharing articles, information, and social media tools with one another. A site that has been Tweeted frequently is one that keeps track of the election search trends. Through the tool, anyone can see which party leader or election issues are being searched the most on Google.
Social media has allowed those interested in Cameroon’s elections to share information in ways that were never possible before. But the country lags far behind others in the region in terms of Internet penetration rates. With only 5% of the country having Internet access, most citizens will not be able to follow the social media that is providing critical perspectives on the election. Were the majority of the country’s citizens able to follow the elections online, there might be more potential for a nation-wide movement against Biya and his alleged election rigging.
- Cameroon president’s campaign tactic strategy sparks concern. (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon opposition leader says other parties are ‘maggots’ (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Election Rigging Strategy: Biya regime bans Twitter in the Cameroons (lebs295.wordpress.com)
October 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
Douala, Cameroons (CNN) — Both supporters and opponents of Cameroon President Paul Biya say they are concerned about his complacent attitude in the campaign leading to the October 9 election, with some saying he plans to win through election rigging and fraud.
Campaigning enters the final phase this week with all 22 opposition candidates crisscrossing the nation, but Biya has not been seen campaigning anywhere in the field.
“We are very worried and bitter about our candidate sitting in the air-conditioned office and sending us to the field as if we are slaves,” Christopher Ambe told CNN. “He is very proud even to go down to the ordinary Cameroonian on the streets.”
Ambe said young people are being paid by Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement to take to the streets in support of the leader, who has been in power for nearly 30 years.
A citizen who spoke to CNN on grounds of anonymity noted that “in other countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana, we see other presidents who seek re-election campaigning in villages and on streets. If our president is too old to do that, let him step down for the young leaders to have a chance.”
The main opposition candidate of the Social Democratic Front, John Fru Ndi, is now seen as the only candidate touring all 10 regions of the West African nation. Fru Ndi accused Biya of planning to rig the election.
Another opposition candidate, Paul Ayah Abine, pointed to the uneven distribution of government campaign money to political parties. He said Biya’s party has nearly 20 billion central African francs (about $40 million) while the other 22 candidates have less than 1 billion.
A leading campaigner for Biya, Atanga Nji Paul, Sunday told a rally in the Northwest region that all other parties are poor and wretched.
Some observers say Biya’s supporters are buying people’s votes with money.
A young Cameroonian, Bertin Kisob, whose candidacy was rejected by Elections Cameroon, is calling on youth to take to the streets in a violent protest. Last week he claimed responsibility for being behind a gun battle in the Wouri area of Douala that lasted hours.
Kisob told CNN he is ready to disrupt the polls and put the regime of the dictator to an end.
“There can never be free and fair elections in this country. If so, we could have seen the change in 2007,” he said.
- Cameroon opposition leader says other parties are ‘maggots’ (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Anti-regime gunmen battle police in Cameroon at the Wourri Bridge. (lebs295.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon’s incumbent president seems poised for reelection, but not without tension (csmonitor.com)
September 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
Fru Ndi told supporters at a rally in the opposition stronghold of Bamenda that nearly all the parties running alongside his Social Democratic Front were set up by President Paul Biya as a ploy to fracture the main party.
Fru Ndi says he will resign after three years if he is elected president, rather than the usual seven-year term.
Twenty-three candidates will be on the ballot in the West African nation on October 9.
Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, a Biya Cabinet minister, denied that the president created the “maggot parties” to weaken the Social Democratic Front but pointed to the relative peace enjoyed under Biya’s rule.
Biya’s campaigners have been renewing promises made over the course of his 29-year rule, adding that he is seeking another term because it is the people’s choice.
But Melvis Acho, a resident of Bamenda, disagreed. “We are tired of Mr. Biya alone ruling this nation for nearly 30 years with total repression. We lack jobs and even basic health care. Epidemics like cholera run for over a year, and no one seems to care. Corrupt officials and embezzlers walk away with impunity.”
In Bamenda, Fru Ndi raised the possibility of protests.
“I would not opt for youths to take to the streets in protest like that of the Arab Spring, but if Mr. Biya’s regime this time violates a free, fair and transparent election as he has always done, I would change my mind,” he told supporters.
The state-run media, CRTV, is being criticized by opposition candidates as favoring Biya’s Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement in order to render them voiceless in the campaign.
- Biya declares candidacy for October elections (cnn.com)
- Cameroon’s Main Opposition Elects Fru Ndi as Election Candidate (erasmodelavega.wordpress.com)
- Cameroon Leader, 51 Others Ask for Presidency (socyberty.com)