Biya Sets Feb 9 For Cameroon’s Parliamentary Elections

File: Cameroon President Paul Biya speaks as he meets with French former hostages at the presidential palace in Yaounde on April 19, 2013. capital. AFP PHOTO / REINNIER KAZE

 

Cameroon’s presidency announced Sunday that parliamentary elections will be held on February 9, 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 last year, but the result was contested by his main opposition rival in the vote, Maurice Kamto of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC).

READ ALSO: OAS Recommends Fresh Bolivia Elections

The 65-year-old Kamto was jailed in January after his party staged several peaceful marches challenging that result.

Released in October, he has since tried three times to hold marches but was denied permission each time.

The West African country was for years considered relatively stable, but it has been shaken by a two-year-old separatist uprising in the west as well as attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram in the north.

Biya, under international pressure, held a national peace dialogue last month during which he announced the release of 333 detainees linked to the separatist crisis.

He also ordered the release of 102 opposition activists arrested in 2018 during protests over his re-election.

Contacted by AFP, MRC general secretary Christopher Ndong said the party needed time to evaluate the news of fresh elections before responding.

“We have asked that certain preconditions be met, such as the revision of the electoral code,” he said.

The main opposition party in parliament is still the Social Democratic Front (SDF), even though its candidate in last year’s presidential election garnered only 3.35 percent of the vote, coming in fourth.

Contacted by AFP, the party was not immediately willing to say whether it would take part in next year’s elections.

Late last month, Washington announced it was stripping Cameroon of its preferential trade status because of its poor rights record.

AFP

Cameroonian President Congratulates Buhari On Re-Election

Cameroonian President Congratulates Buhari On Re-Election
President Muhammadu Buhari (file)

 

President Paul Biya of Cameroon has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory in the February 23 poll.

According to the Presidency, Mr Biya wished President Buhari “every success” as he serves a new term.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, revealed this in a series of tweets on Saturday.

READ ALSOPresidential Election: IBB Congratulates Buhari, Lauds Atiku’s Doggedness

The Cameroonian leader, in his congratulatory message, recounted the relationship between his country and Nigeria, describing it as excellent.

He said he was committed to working more with the President in that regard and to jointly tackle the major challenges of both countries, especially as it relates to stability and security.

Read the tweets below;

Cameroon’s Biya Re-Elected As President For Seventh Term

Cameroon’s incumbent President Paul Biya (C) casts his ballot as his wife Chantal looks on in the polling station in Bastos neighbourhood in the capital Yaounde, on October 7, 2018 during Cameroon’s presidential election.  ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP

 

Cameroon President Paul Biya re-elected with 71.2 per cent of the vote, an official said on Monday.

According to the Constitutional Council, Biya got the people’s mandate after defeating opposition candidate, Maurice Kamto in this month’s election.

Kamto came second with 14.2 percent, council president Clement Atangana said, announcing the official results of the October 7 ballot in a state television broadcast.

 

Details coming shortly…

African Union Urges ‘Restraint’ In Cameroon Vote Spat

Cameroon’s incumbent President Paul Biya (C) casts his ballot as his wife Chantal looks on in the polling station in Bastos neighbourhood in the capital Yaounde, on October 7, 2018 during Cameroon’s presidential election. ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP

 

Ahead of the official results, Maurice Kamto, a leading opposition challenger with the MRC — the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon, declared himself the winner of the Sunday elections.

Kamto’s dramatic announcement came a day after the vote which was marred by violence in restive anglophone regions, a low turnout and problems staging the ballot in the conflict-hit areas.

With tensions running high over the vote, African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat called for both sides to avoid aggravating the situation.

“The Chairperson underlines the need for all political stakeholders to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any statement or action that could heighten tensions,” Faki said in a statement, indicating he was “closely following” developments.

“Any claim relating to the electoral process should be handled through the existing legal mechanisms.”

Cameroonian government officials have dismissed Kamto’s remarks as a “non-event,” with one minister labelling him an “outlaw”.

By law, each polling station must submit its results for verification to the Elecam electoral commission and then to the Constitutional Court which is responsible for announcing the final tally within 15 days of the vote in which 85-year-old President Paul Biya sought reelection.

But a raft of unofficial results from Cameroon’s nearly 25,000 polling stations have already begun circulating on social media.

On Monday, Joshua Osih, candidate for the main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) party, had said it was “a bit premature to be giving results” and called on his seven fellow candidates to “respect the law”.

And the US embassy in Yaounde also called “on all parties to wait until the official results are announced before making pronouncements about the supposed winner,” in a post on its verified Facebook account.

AFP

Cameroon Votes In Presidential Polls As Conflict Rages

Cameroon’s incumbent President Paul Biya (C) casts his ballot as his wife Chantal looks on in the polling station in Bastos neighbourhood in the capital Yaounde, on October 7, 2018 during Cameroon’s presidential election. ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP

 

Cameroonians voted in presidential polls on Sunday with octogenarian leader Paul Biya seeking a seventh term against a backdrop of deadly violence in the country’s English-speaking regions.

The vote follows a last-minute opposition unity bid to dislodge the 85-year-old incumbent, one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers.

Two leading opponents have formed the first electoral union since 1992, but talks between various other opposition parties to create a “super-coalition” to deny Biya another seven years were apparently fruitless.

Biya and his wife Chantal, who wore a matching canary yellow skirt, jacket and handbag along with her signature brown bouffant hair, voted in the Bastos public school in the capital Yaounde surrounded by heavily-armed soldiers.

“The election campaign was conducted peacefully… as president, it would be satisfying to be reelected to see that the people trust me,” he told journalists as he left the voting booth and returned to his Mercedes-Maybach limousine.

“I feel proud,” said Patrick, 38, an airport worker who also voted in Bastos.

“I want the next president to consolidate what we have achieved in Cameroon. I want the elections to pass off peacefully, that’s my only hope for the polls.”

Cameroon’s 6.5 million eligible voters are casting their ballots as violence rages in the anglophone southwest and northwest.

Those regions have been rocked by a separatist insurgency launched a year ago against the mainly francophone state.

The violence has killed at least 420 civilians, 175 members of the security forces and an unknown number of separatists, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank.

After voting got underway on Sunday, security forces shot dead three suspected separatists who had allegedly been firing at passersby from a motorcycle in Bamenda, the main city in the northwest region, a local official said.

In Buea, capital of the southwest, three separatists of the so-called Ambazonia Republic were gunned down on Friday and a priest was executed by soldiers on Thursday, according to witnesses.

The far north is also mired in insecurity, as Nigeria-based Boko Haram fighters mount attacks despite US efforts to equip and train Cameroon’s military to battle the jihadists.

 ‘Massive fraud’? 

In a rare coordinated political manoeuvre, a key opposition frontrunner, Maurice Kamto, agreed late Friday to a unity deal between his Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) and the People’s Development Front (FDP), meaning he will stand for both parties.

However, it is unclear whether the eleventh-hour deal will sway the vote, which runs until 1700 GMT Sunday.

“This alliance, though interesting for the vitality of Cameroonian democracy, may have arrived too late,” said Hans de Marie Heungoup, an ICG researcher.

Kamto’s MRC has warned that a “massive fraud” is underway to secure a Biya win.

“We’re not preparing for war, but wherever there is fraud, there will be a firm response,” said MRC spokesman Paul-Eric Kingue.

The government hit back, apparently in response to the MRC, saying that it would “not tolerate any disorder before, during or after the presidential vote”.

The opposition has long accused the authorities of supporting Biya.

But despite the ubiquity of Biya’s posters, he has been virtually absent from the campaign trail, except for a single event last weekend.

 Travel lock-down 

It is unclear if polling will proceed normally across Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, where separatists hold a “significant” amount of territory, according to the ICG, and have threatened to disrupt the vote.

A team of election officials received a military escort as they travelled to the outskirts of Buea on Sunday, according to AFP journalists.

The government said it was possible there were “troublemakers” in the anglophone regions.

“But the vast majority of residents are ready and willing to vote,” said Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary.

Authorities have imposed a raft of security measures including a ban on inter-regional travel and sealing the borders.

A total of 246,000 people have fled their homes in the southwest and 25,000 have left the country altogether for Nigeria, according to UN figures.

It is thought that the displaced will struggle to vote, which could favour Biya as anglophones have traditionally backed the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party of rival candidate Joshua Osih.

Results must be posted within 15 calendar days of the poll.

AFP

Cameroon President, Biya Announces Bid For Seventh Term In Office

Cameroon President Paul Biya

 

Cameroon’s 85-year-old president, Paul Biya on Friday announced that he has plans to run for a seventh consecutive term in office in the October election.

“I will be your candidate in the next presidential election,” Biya, who has been head of state in the West African country for 35 years, wrote on his Twitter account.

Biya came into power in 1982 after his predecessor retired.

His desire for the seventh term in office could see the 85-year-old rule well into his 90s.

The Cameroonian President became Africa’s second longest-serving leader because according to his critics, dead people voted for him.

Allegations of rights abuses have swirled for decades around the 85-year-old ruler, but his nickname — “The Sphinx” — is well-deserved for a smooth, discreet profile that contrasts sharply with that of many of his flamboyant peers in Africa.

Biya, in power since 1982, told his “dear compatriots” on Twitter on Friday that he had decided to “respond positively to your overwhelming calls” to stand in the October 7 elections, bidding for a seventh consecutive term.

“I will be your candidate,” he said, adding that he was “aware of the challenges that we must face together for a Cameroon that is even more united, stable and prosperous”.

Those words appeared to be a veiled acknowledgment of the troubles besetting Cameroon.

The oil-rich state is facing an armed insurgency in two English-speaking regions in the west and cross-border incursions by Boko Haram jihadists in the far north.

Cameroon has faced divisions since independence in 1960, and Biya’s party, the Cameroonian People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC), sees itself as a unifying force.

With a powerful executive branch and amid widespread poverty, the regime fends off charges of crooked elections and endemic corruption from Transparency International and human rights bodies.

“For 30 years, we have been hoping for a better Biya and a better Cameroon, but for 30 years now, the country has been sinking,” according to the Joshua Osih, the presidential candidate of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF).

“He has put in place a strange operation where his position at the heart of the system is enough to sustain the system itself,” researcher Stephane Akoa once remarked.

Biya is “master in the art of maintaining the status quo”, French journalist Fanny Pigeaud said in her book “The Cameroon of Paul Biya”. “He never seems to have had any intention of giving up.”

Born on February 13, 1933, in a village 220 kilometers (140 miles) south of the capital Yaounde, Biya studied law in France before landing a government job on his return home in 1962.

He was named prime minister in 1975, and took over from Cameroon’s founding president Amadou Ahidjo, who was ailing, in November 1982. The details surrounding this episode remain murky.

Biya was first elected in 1984. He allowed a multi-party system in the early 1990s, accepting political opposition from the west.

The national assembly in 2008 sparked riots that claimed at least 139 people lives when deputies scrapped the limit on presidential terms.

The late protest singer Lapiro de Mbanga earned three years in jail for a song “Constipated Constitution”, which became an anthem for demonstrators.

In the last election in 2011, Biya took about 78 percent of votes according to Cameroon’s Supreme Court.

It rejected opposition charges that “dead people” like late deputy prime minister Andze Tsoungui Gilbert had voted.

Film director Richard Fouofie Djimili told AFP in April 2013 that he was kidnapped, interrogated for 11 days and tortured for a political fiction seen as lampooning Biya’s longevity.

Asked in January 2013 about alleged abuses, Biya told Paris media: “We don’t have a human rights problem … Cameroonians are among the freest Africans.”

AFP

Cameroon President Warns Anglophone ‘Band Of Terrorists’

File photo: Cameroon’s President Paul Biya

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has denounced “repeated attacks by a band of terrorists” blamed for killing six members of the security forces in a secessionist campaign in anglophone regions.

“I learned with emotion of the murder of four Cameroonian soldiers and two policemen in the southwest of our country,” Biya said late Thursday on his return from an African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast.

“I think that things are now clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming to be part of a secessionist movement,” he charged in a national radio broadcast.

Mounting violence in the English-speaking west of the mainly francophone country claimed the lives of five police officers and five soldiers during the month of November, according to an official tally.

Resentment over perceived discrimination and a tough crackdown on separatist political forces has provoked secessionist demands in anglophone regions, which account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 22 million.

“Confronted with these acts of aggression, I would like to reassure the Cameroonian people that all steps are being taken to incapacitate these criminals and to make sure that peace and security are safeguarded over the whole extent of national territory,” Biya declared.

The authorities have already imposed night-time curfews, restrictions on movement, raids and body searches, as well as a bid by the government in Yaounde to reach out to the anglophone community for political dialogue.

Biya has been president of the central African country since 1982, after serving as prime minister to founding president Ahmadou Ahidjo, who created a unified state out of territory that was divided between French and British colonial rulers before independence in 1960.

AFP

Cameroon President Vows Probe After Rail Crash Kills At Least 75

train-crashCameroon’s President, Paul Biya on Sunday pledged to investigate the causes of a rail crash that killed at least 75 people, as rescue workers scoured wreckage for more bodies.

The packed passenger train carrying more than 1,400 people between the capital Yaounde and the central African country’s port city of Douala derailed on Friday near the town of Eseka, causing carriages to flip over at high speed.

Two days later, some were still seeking news of friends and family members on hand-written lists of passengers pinned up outside medical centers in the two cities. On Sunday, the government appealed for additional blood donations to assist with the treatment of some 600 people who suffered injuries.

“I have ordered an in-depth inquiry into the causes of this accident,” Biya told state TV in French on returning to Cameroon on Sunday afternoon after a trip in Europe.

“I have ordered for victims’ (medical) costs to be paid for by the state,” he added.

Operator Camrail, a unit of French industrial group Bollore, said on Sunday it had set up a special train service to fetch bodies from the crash site.

Witnesses said that before the crash extra carriages had been added to the train to accommodate exceptionally high demand for the service, due partly to the collapse of a portion of the main road linking the two cities after heavy rain.

It was not clear if that had played a role in the accident.

Camrail said on Sunday it had received permission from the command post managing the lines before commencing its journey.

Technicians from the firm have been made to help police with their enquiries and psychological support is being offered to victims, the firm added.

“A crisis unit was immediately created in the train stations of Yaounde and Douala,” Camrail’s Hamadou Sali told reporters.

Nigeria Signs Agreement On Trade Cooperation With Cameroun

Trade CooperationNigeria and Cameroun have signed agreement on trade cooperation and conservation of the Benue River.

This is the outcome of the bilateral talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and Paul Biya of Cameroun, who is on a state visit to Nigeria.

Other areas covered in the bilateral talks include security, agriculture and immigration issues.

The visiting Camerounian president is in Nigeria at the invitation of President Mohammadu Buhari.

Trade Cooperation
President Buhari with L-R: Wife of the President Mrs Aisha Buhari, President of Cameroon Paul Biya and his spouse Mrs Chantal Biya

The agreements signed cover trade cooperation, between nigeria and cameroun, conservation of the benue river, security, agriculture, infrastructure and immigration issues among others.

Both countries also have military agreements – the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) – that is aimed at ending the free movement of Boko Haram terrorists along their borders.

Buhari Holds Bilateral Talks With Camerounian President, Biya

pAUL BIYANigeria’s President, Muhammadu has received the President of Cameroun, Paul Biya, who is on a two-day working visit to Nigeria.

Accompanied by his wife, the Cameroonian President, who entered the Presidential Villa at about 2:00pm local time on Tuesday  inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Presidential Guards before retiring into President Buhari’s office for bilateral talks.

Reports indicate that both countries will sign new agreements to strengthen existing ties, as well as trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Cameroun.

President Biya was in Nigeria in 1983 and 1991.

In 2007, he attended the swearing in of late President Yar’Adua and also attended the ceremonies marking Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary in 2010.

One of the issues affecting both countries that the Presidents are likely to discuss is the insurgency in the north-east of Nigeria and the region of Cameroun on border.

Both countries have military agreements – the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) – that is aimed at ending the free movement of Boko Haram terrorists along their borders.

President Paul Biya Of Cameroon Begins State Visit To Nigeria On Tuesday

Paul BiyaPresident Paul Biya of Cameroon, will at the invitation of President Muhammadu Buhari, begin a two-day state visit to Nigeria tomorrow, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

President Biya, who will be accompanied by his wife, Chantal and senior Cameroonian government officials, will be received Tuesday afternoon at the Presidential Villa, Abuja by President Buhari.

Both leaders and their officials will confer on issues of common interest to Nigeria and Cameroon, including ongoing bilateral and regional cooperation against terrorism, violent extremism and cross-border crimes.

It is expected that new agreements to strengthen existing ties, as well as trade and economic relations between Nigeria and Cameroon, will be concluded and signed before the end of President Biya’s visit.

President Buhari’s spokesperson, Mr Femi Adesina says that a joint communiqué on the visit and the talks between the two presidents and their officials will be issued before President Biya’s departure from Abuja on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

Nigeria, Cameroon Strengthen Border Patrol

Muhammadu-Buhari-of-Nigeria-and-Paul-Biya-of-CameroonNigeria and Cameroon on Wednesday agreed to strengthen Border patrol and open communication among Border States to make more information available to both nations, as they tackle the Boko Haram Terrorists in Nigeria’s north-east region and northern Cameroon.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between the Nigerian President, Mr Muhammadu Buharia and his Cameroonian counterpart, Mr Paul Biya in Yaounde, the Capital of Cameroon.

President Buhari arrived at Yaounde at about 11:00 local time and held talks with the Mr Biya, with both leaders seeking ways of strengthening the counter-terrorism operations in their common border.

On arrival, President Buhari was welcomed by the 82-year-old Cameroonian President at the airport in Yaounde.

The Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media, Mr Femi Adeshina, told Channels Television, that both leaders met and agreed that there was the need to strengthen the countries’ borders and contribute troops for the Multi-National Joint Task Force, expected to begin operations next month.

Six Nigerian governors, also met with five of their counterparts in Cameroon, where they agreed to open communication among Border States, build more infrastructure to secure the borders, operate common border patrols and share intelligence and surveillance.

The Cameroonian government has scheduled a state banquet on Wednesday evening for the visiting Nigerian government officials.

President Buhari is on a two-day visit to Cameroon for talks with the officials of the Cameroonian government, aimed at deepening cooperation between both countries in the counter-terrorism operations.

He will also meet with Nigerians in Cameroon before he ends his visit.