Cameroon’s ruling party retains absolute majority after contentious election

The party of President Paul Biya has retained an absolute majority in the Cameroonian parliament, the Constitutional Council announced Friday after the controversial vote on February 9.

Its Cameroonian People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) won 139 of the 167 seats declared with a “moderate” turnout of nearly 46%, said council chairman Clement Atangana.

The elections were canceled in 13 other seats, in the English-speaking regions in difficulty of Cameroon, and must be held at a later date.

In the outgoing Parliament, elected in 2013, the CPDM had 148 seats.

Atangana said that an ally of the CPDM, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP), had won seven seats.

The largest opposition party in the outgoing Assembly, the Social Democratic Front, which had 18 seats in the outgoing Assembly, saw its share drop to five.

Election day in the Central African Republic was overshadowed by the crisis in two regions where the English-speaking separatists declared their independence from the predominantly French-speaking country.

The separatist fighters called on the people there to boycott the poll and threatened anyone who planned to vote.

More than 3,000 people have died and at least 700,000 have fled their homes in the 29-month disorder.

Human rights observers say that abuses have been committed by both parties.

Biya, 87, who ruled for 37 years, has ruled out requests from moderates to restore the federal structure of Cameroon.

However, the government recently decentralized some of its powers after a “national dialogue” on the Anglophone crisis boycotted by the separatists.

The far north of the country, a language-like region between Nigeria and Chad, has since been defeated by Boko Haram jihadists from Nigeria.