Cameroonian leader Paul Biya has decreed that the Central African state holds a presidential election on October 7 amidst fears that a two-year-long separatist movement in the English speaking Northwest and Southwest might jeopardise the poll.
Following the Monday announcement by the long-serving president, aspirants for the top job now have 10 days to submit their papers to the elections and referenda management agency, the Elections Cameroon (ELECAM).
President Biya, 85, who has uninterruptedly ruled Cameroon since 1982, is yet to say whether he will seek another mandate, but his supporters and members of his governing CPDM party were already declaring him winner of the poll.
Going to win
“President Paul Biya is our [CPDM] candidate for the October 7 election and with him we are going to win,” said Prof Jacques Fame Ndongo, the Higher Education minister and the CPDM Communication Secretary.
The leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) of Mr John Fru Ndi has already designated the 49-year-old Joshua Osih as its flag bearer.
Other candidates who have declared their intention to unseat President Biya include prominent lawyer and former president of Transparency International, Mr Akere Muna, and Prof Maurice Kamto, a former loyalist of the veteran leader and current president of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) party.
ELECAM chairman Enow Abrams Egbe said the poll agency was ready for the presidential election, adding that the voter registration had been suspended in keeping with the law.
However, there were fears the electoral process may be jeopardised by the socio-political tension that has plagued the English speaking regions for two years now.
Anglophone separatist activists who have been clamouring for the creation of the Republic of Ambazonia, have warned that they would not allow any election organised by the Yaoundé regime to take place in “their country”.
At least 10 people were last week killed in the latest gun battle between the army and armed separatists in the Southwest in an escalation of the crisis, according to the English language daily, the Guardian Post.