“We don’t recognise Biya as the president. Things will start happening now”- Kamto Campaign
Cameroon’s octogenarian president, Paul Biya, who has held power for 36 years, has won another term after an election marred by allegations of fraud and in which many people were too scared to vote.
Biya was declared the winner on Monday with 71.28% of the votes cast in the election on 7 October. Maurice Kamto, the opposition leader who had declared himself the winner a few hours after the polls closed, refused to attend the declaration ceremony after his party was said to have taken just 14% of the vote.
Turnout was 54%, far lower than in previous elections, and was just 10% in English-speaking regions, where rebels have been fighting a bitter battle for secession since their demands for English speakers to be appointed in courts and schools were brutally suppressed by the authorities.
The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, came fourth – partly because of an election boycott enforced by anglophone separatists.
The head of the constitutional council, Clement Atangana, said the election had been “free, fair, transparent and credible.”
Kamto refused to comment. On Friday his campaign manager said: “We don’t recognise Biya as the president of the republic. We want Cameroonians to know that things will start happening now. We wouldn’t take this lying down
Since Sunday, police and gendarmes have been stationed on streets in the capital, Yaoundé, and the economic capital, Douala, to prevent activists from staging “Biya must go” protests.
In recent weeks the military has carried out several raids in anglophone-inhabited areas of the two cities. Authorities suspected armed rebels were hiding in these areas.
Two days before the election, an anglophone man hiding out in Yaoundé was woken at 4.30am by a phone call from his landlady. “She warned me that the police were in the neighbourhood, doing raids house to house,” he said. “She was speaking quietly in case they would hear her.” Soon after he hung up, the police banged on his door.
Geoffrey (his name has been changed for his safety) had been living in the quiet Obili neighbourhood of Yaoundé since last year after fleeing violence in his native Bamenda.
Police searched his house and those of his neighbours, looking through laptop computers and mobile phones. People without national identity cards were taken to the police station. “I don’t know what they do to them,” Geoffrey said.
Many anglophone families in Yaoundé live in fear of contact with the authorities and try to venture outside as little as possible. “If I go out on the street I hold my head down and don’t talk to anyone,” said Paula, whose husband was abducted and killed by unknown militants several months ago.
“I don’t carry my Android phone outside in case the police take it and find any messages or pictures of the fighting,” she said, adding that she kept in touch with friends and family back home through WhatsApp groups.
Many Cameroonians felt the election was meaningless as the result never changed. “Biya always wins,” said Suh Emmanuel, an anglophone driver. “His ministers voted in places they didn’t register but those of us who left Buea and Bamenda because of the war couldn’t. I am not interested in the results. Let him rule forever.”
Culled from The Guardian