Biya wins again in Cameroon as crackdown disrupts anglophone vote

Biya wins again in Cameroon as crackdown disrupts anglophone vote.

Gunfire erupts in volatile English-speaking regions as election victory gives 85-year-old Paul Biya seventh term in office.

Paul Biya, one of Africa’s oldest leaders who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist since 1982, has won a landslide victory in a controversial presidential election, as gunfire erupted in the volatile anglophone regions, where turnout fell below 5%.

Biya wins again in Cameroon as crackdown disrupts anglophone vote

Biya wins again in Cameroon as crackdown disrupts anglophone vote

The Constitutional Council, dominated by Biya loyalists, said the 85-year-old leader had won 71.3% of the ballot in the 7 October election, which was marred by allegations of widespread fraud, a low turnout and violence in the run-up to the poll.

The council’s head, Clement Atangana, said opposition challenger Maurice Kamto, was a distant second with 14.2% of the vote.

“Today, we cannot imagine a scenario where Mr Biya will quit power normally,” said political expert Stephane Akoa. “If Mr Biya thought about alternating power or democracy, he would not have put in place this machinery … whose main task is modify the results in such a way that Mr Biya is the inevitable winner.”

Voting was disrupted in Francophone Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions, where a separatist movement has unleashed a brutal government crackdown. Turnout here was below 5%, according to the International Crisis Group thinktank.

Supporters of Paul Biya celebrate his election victory in Yaoundé on Monday.
 Supporters of Paul Biya celebrate his election victory in Yaoundé on Monday. Photograph: Etienne Mainimo/EPA

Witnesses on Monday told AFP of gunfire during the morning in Buea, capital of the English-speaking south-west region, which has been rocked by violence for months.

After the vote, the Constitutional Council had 15 days to weigh up objections that had been filed concerning the election. It rejected all 18 complaints. The final results can no longer be challenged.

Biya notably won 79.7% of the vote in Adamaoua, 71.1% in the centre and 90.4% in the east, the council said.

AFP journalists reported tight security around the main post office in the capital Yaounde after calls on social media for a protest rally against the results.

Anti-riot police trucks and security forces were deployed across the area.

On Sunday authorities banned an opposition march in the commercial capital Douala called to denounce the “shameful and massive fraud” in the election. About 30 people were arrested on the spot, AFP journalists reported.

Kamto, who pronounced himself the winner of the vote before even the first results were announced – leading the government to brand him an outlaw – has alleged that six of the 11 members of the Constitutional Council were biased in Biya’s favour.

Biya’s main challenger has also called for the vote to be annulled in seven of the country’s 10 regions, citing “multiple irregularities, serious cases of fraud and multiple violations of the law”.

Biya became prime minister in 1975, but precisely how he was anointed to succeed Cameroon’s founding president Ahmadou Ahidjo in November 1982 remains a mystery. Unlike more fiery and flamboyant peers in the club of long-standing African leaders, critics say Biya, nicknamed “the Sphinx”, is a quiet autocrat.

In a rare moment of candour, he once warned of his sweeping powers telling a Cameroonian journalist in 1986: “Just a little shake of my head and you’ll be reduced to nothing.”

 

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