Polls closed in Cameroon on Sunday in an election overshadowed by a partial opposition boycott and separatist violence that has displaced hundreds of thousands in the region. The elections were the first in seven years after two postponements. The polls witnessed a low turnout of voters in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest Regions.
An opposition boycott means that the rule of President Paul Biya is unlikely to come to an end anytime soon. President Paul Biya, one of the oldest and longest-serving leaders in the world, has held a tight grip on power in the central African country for 37 years.
Large numbers of police and security forces were deployed during the elections, but no violence was reported in the cities. The director-general of the electoral commission Erik Essousse said voting was completed across the country’s 26,336 polling stations in a calm, orderly and disciplined manner.
However, a clash occurred in Muyuka, a rebel stronghold in the Northwest Region, an area where fighting takes place almost daily in both English-speaking regions bordering Nigeria. There was also a shooting at Buea, the main town in the Southwest region, and in Kuma in the same region.
In the country’s French-speaking regions, voting proceeded normally. The elections were being held with a heavy military presence.
How Cameroon Political Parties responded to the Elections
The ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (French acronym, RDPC) is widely expected to retain their majority in Parliament. The party in the outgoing legislature had 148 out of 180 seats. The RDPC supports Paul Biya.
The main opposition party, the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) refused to field a single candidate after its leader, Maurice Kamto called for a boycott of the elections. Maurice Kamto spent nine months in jail after his defeat in 2018 elections and is now overseas.
It is Kamto’s belief that the security situation in the English-speaking region – the Northwest and Southwest Regions – makes it unable to have a credible election.
The Social Democratic Front (SDF), the other major opposition party which currently has 18 seats, took part in Sunday’s vote, going back on a threat to snub it.
Official results for the elections are expected within 20 days.