Biya wins Cameroon election to extend 36-year rule

Cameroon's President Paul Biya is seen at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U....
Cameroon's President Paul Biya is seen at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 22, 2017.

Cameroonian President Paul Biya has won re-election by a landslide, extending his 36-year rule despite claims that the vote was fraudulent.

At 85, Biya is the oldest leader in sub-Saharan Africa and the victory cements his place as one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers. Most Cameroonians have known only him as president.

But looming over his victory are allegations of ballot stuffing and intimidation, while turnout was low because of a secessionist uprising in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions in which hundreds, including unarmed civilians, have died over the past year.

Biya won 71 percent of the vote on a turnout of 54 percent, according to figures announced by the Constitutional Council. He won strongly in nine of 10 regions, including the South and East where he took more than 90 percent of the vote. His closest rival, Maurice Kamto, won 14 percent overall.

“Thank you for your renewed and large confidence,” Biya said on Twitter. “Let us now join in taking up, together, the challenges that confront us.”

The announcement follows two weeks of tension in the coffee- and oil-producing country where, despite economic growth above 4 percent a year since the last election, most people live in poverty.

Kamto claimed victory for himself on October 8 based on his campaign’s figures, and in recent days police silenced opposition marches in the port city of Douala where he is popular.

“We solemnly and categorically reject these manufactured results and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Head of State,” Kamto said in a statement. “We will use all means of law to restore the truth of the ballot box.”

Third-placed candidate Cabral Libii also rejected the results, saying they did not “reflect reality” in Cameroon.

Authorities have defended the voting process. “The election was free, fair and credible in spite of the security challenges in the English-speaking regions,” the President of Constitutional Council, Clement Atangana, said on Monday.

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Story By Reuters
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