Despite opposition boycotts demanding a boycott, the Cameroonian president set the date for regional elections on December 6 on Monday. This indirect vote should make it possible to set up regional councils provided for in the 1996 Constitution to promote decentralization.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has called Monday, September 7 to December 6, the first regional election, especially in English-speaking areas in the wake of a bloody separatist conflict, but the vote is rejected as it is by a significant part of the opposition who intend to boycott him.
This indirect vote in the ten Cameroonian regions should make it possible to set up regional councils provided for in the 1996 Constitution to promote decentralization but never elected until today.
These councils, in the two English-speaking regions of the north-west and south-west, should also have a special status promised in October 2019 by Paul Biya, 87 years old and with undeniable power for almost 38 years, at “derived from a national dialogue to try to put an end to the fighting between separatists and security forces.
Major voters must elect 90 regional councilors, including 20 representatives of traditional chiefs. The regional councils have limited powers in non-sovereign areas such as equipment, regional planning and culture.
The two main opposition parties had warned that they would boycott the regional ones, especially as long as the bloody conflict in the two regions that house the majority of the Cameroonian English-speaking minority was not resolved. In these areas, Anglophone armed groups demanding independence are fighting the security forces massively deployed by the regime of Paul Biya, dominated by the French-speaking majority. The United Nations, international NGOs and some Western states regularly condemn crimes committed by civilians on both sides.
“We will not take part in the regional elections provided for in the current patterns,” John Fru Ndi, president of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), warned on September 2, one of the two main opposition parties calling in advance. “a ceasefire” in the English-speaking zone.
“No deviation in behavior is tolerated”
Maurice Kamto, the main opponent of Paul Biya at the head of the Cameroon Renaissance (MRC) movement, called on 23 August for “the determined peaceful opposition of the Cameroonian people to the electoral process in preparation and the clear resignation and simplicity of Mr. Paul Biya”.
“No deviation in behavior will be tolerated,” Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji warned Monday night, promising to ensure the security of the vote.