Cameroon is counting votes after Sunday’s presidential election, which officials and African Union observers described as largely successful. Authorities reported minor irregularities and some election-related violence, but said it was not enough to influence the outcome of the poll.
Official results are not expected for two weeks.
Erick Essouse, director general of elections at the election management body ELECAM, says the vote went fairly smoothly in both the English- and French-speaking regions of Cameroon.
“Certain minor incidents were observed in a few polling stations caused by verbal abuse from one or two candidates who clearly sought here and there to disturb public order,” he said, adding, “Such abuses are not acceptable in our democracy of appeasement and tolerance.”
More than 7,000 observers, including the African Union, monitored Cameroon’s election.
Arthene Kwessi Selaeodai Ahooney-zena, head of the AU observer mission, says no major incidents were observed that could influence the results, even though there were reports of fighting in the restive English-speaking regions. He says the AU did not send observers to those regions, but monitored from a distance.
Cameroonian authorities reported that a priest and three separatists were killed a day before the election in the country’s Anglophone region in clashes with security forces.
Anglophone separatists want autonomous rule from the government in Yaounde and had vowed on social media to prevent Sunday’s election.
With security high in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest and southwest, the separatists were unable to carry out their threat.
Businessman Desmund Abefuh, from the English-speaking town of Bamenda, says he voted despite the threat, and is anxious to know the results.
President Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon for 36 years and is expected to win another seven-year term.
Cameroon’s fractured opposition was unable to rally behind a strong challenger to the 85-year-old leader.
Nonetheless, some supporters of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement Party (CRM) candidate, Maurice Kamtos, are claiming victory.
Lawyer Akere Muna withdrew his candidacy at the last minute and threw his support behind Kamtos.
Muna says he was shocked to find his ballot papers in polling stations when he had written to request ELECAM to withdraw them. He alleges such acts are to facilitate fraud and can have serious consequences.
However, ELECAM says Muna gave them only one day’s notice before the vote, so there was not enough time to withdraw his name from ballots in all 25,000 polling stations.
Territorial administration minister Paul Atanga Nji says it is a crime to speculate on election results before they become official.
“The official proclamation of results is an exclusive right of the constitutional council and no one has the right to substitute to this legal body,” he said. “Any form of challenge to the verdict of the polls other than the constitutional legal means will not be tolerated.”
Despite threats from separatists, Biya’s party campaigned in the northwest over the weekend under heavy security.
All eight of his opposition challengers either avoided the two English-speaking regions or were chased out.
Anglophone separatists began a violent campaign in northwest and southwest Cameroon one year ago, citing alleged discrimination and oppression by the country’s French-speaking majority.
Source: Voice of America