Presidential election to proceed in Cameroon despite clashes in English-speaking areas

World Today

CAMEROON-VOTE-FEATUREAn electoral official arranged materials in a warehouse in Buea on October 6, 2018 before being dispatched to the polling station ahead of tomorrow’s presidential vote. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Thousands of people are fleeing parts of Cameroon, ahead of Sunday’s presidential election. More than 200,000 have fled English-speaking areas since protests broke out in 2016.

Separatists in those districts are vowing to disrupt voting.  CGTN’S Saddique Shaban has more from the capital city, Yaounde.

They have waited seven years for this moment. Millions of supporters of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement in francophone regions across the country say they are waiting for the coronation of their candidate and incumbent, Paul Biya, despite security concerns in the Anglophone regions.

“The CPD, the ruling party, is the only party that has staged a political rally in the two regions,” said Cameroon’s Minister of Communications, Issa Tchiroma Bakary. “The Minister, as he said, has taken all the measures to enable any candidate to go where they wanted to go, to subsidies, to inform, to discuss with people, in order to win their mind.”

But the opposition, regrouping late after a disjointed start to the process, have had to scale down their campaigns in the English speaking areas.

“They are refusing the voters of the southwest and northwest regions to vote, in that they have decided to concentrate all the polling stations in one locality and they want the voters to move to that locality,” said Joshua Osih, the candidate of the Social Democratic Front. “They are saying that is for the security of the polling officers, whereas the state is supposed to guarantee the security of the voters.”

“All the security services are on alert, in case there are any disturbances, then we can master the situation. I can tell you that the elections will be conducted in a very serene atmosphere.”

In the mostly Francophone areas, voter registers were published in some polling stations to verify their details. Each voter will need an elector’s card to cast their ballot.

All the nine presidential candidates will have their faces and names printed on the ballot papers for ease of identification.

The Cameroon Elections Commission said it has dispatched all the polling materials to most of the polling stations across the country, and its ready for Sunday’s polls.

Incumbent President Paul Biya will cast his ballot on Sunday, seeking to extend his 36-year-long rule for another seven years in office.

Unlike in the past, Cameroon is confronted by myriads of challenges that have remained unsolved for the last two decades. The Anglophone crisis and the struggling economy are just some underlying choices on the ballot.

As Cameroonians make another political decision, they will be hoping for a better future, a new dawn for thousands of people trapped in conflict. But few people believe the country’s dark period will be solved by the presidential elections.