Yaounde: Cameroon’s Supreme Court on Friday declared sitting President Paul Biya winner of this month’s Presidential Election with an expected landslide majority, despite allegations of massive fraud and calls by the opposition to annul the results.
Judge Alexis Dipanda Moulelle announced that Biya won with 77.98 percent of the vote, with veteran opposition candidate John Fru Ndi following with 10.12 percent. Another opposition leader Garga Haman Adji came in third with 3.21 percent.
The October 09 election was widely expected to take the nation’s longtime leader into his fourth decade in power. He faced 22 opponents and roughly half of them filed complaints alleging massive fraud and asking for the ballot to be annulled.
The results are nearly identical to the 2004 race, which the 78-year-old Biya won with 70.92 percent.
Security was heightened countrywide before the announcement of the results, which had been contested by almost all the 22 contenders. Seven of them wanted a total annulment of the poll on claims that they were flawed, with widespread irregularities intended to give Biya victory.
Biya, 78, has ruled Cameroon uninterrupted since 1982. His government adjusted the Constitution to enable him to run for another seven-year-term, which will mean that he will be ruling into his mid-80s.
Water cannons and heavily-armed security forces were at strategic junctions in the administrative capital of Yaounde, and especially around the court premises where the results were being read.
In Bemenda, the seat of the country’s main opposition leader Fru Ndi, tracts had been distributed that read: “Biya has to go now! Biya is no longer a Cameroonian!!! Biya has long been a Swiss national!!! Biya is a perjury to our country!!! Let security get this right!!! Signed: concerned Cameroonians.”
Supporters of the President also released tracts and made appeals calling for calm.
“Cameroonians of all walks of life, of every social class, do not go down to the streets. Remain deaf to the call for violence and disorder of public demonstrations that have been expressed ... given by leaders of some political parties,” said the head of the Catholic National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, Joseph Atanga, in a speech on Thursday.
“This is irresponsible. Lessons from the past have shown us that we know when it begins, but we don’t know when it ends,” he said.
Many had hoped that an Arab Spring-style movement would shift south to dictatorships in sub-Saharan Africa including Cameroon. But the country has been on lockdown in the months leading up to the election and dissenters were never able to coalesce.
First Published: Saturday, October 22, 2011, 12:49