Cameroon opposition head threatens poll protest

The head of Cameroon's main opposition party threatened to call nationwide protests if the government does not reform the election commission

Cameroon opposition head threatens poll protest

The head of Cameroon's main opposition party threatened on Friday to call nationwide protests if the government does not reform the election commission before next year's presidential poll.

John Fru Ndi, head of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), made the comments after his first ever meeting with President Paul Biya, whom he accuses of filling the electoral body with allies in an attempt to secure another term.

"I requested that the president reform the electoral commission before next year's election," Fru Ndi told reporters. "If this is not done, the SDF is going to organise a series of demonstrations across the country."

Biya has held power in the central African oil producer since 1982, making him one of Africa's longest-serving presidents, and in 2008 provoked widespread demonstrations by eliminating limits on constitutional terms.

Analysts have said that public disenchantment with Biya's slow pace of reforms and his tight grip on power have raised the chances of conflict and could put at risk billions of dollars in power and mining investments in the region's top economy.

Biya agreed to meet Fru Ndi at the tail end of a rare trip to the northwest region, seat of the SDF opposition and scene of some of Cameroon's worst political violence. Twelve people were killed in army raids after the formation of an opposition movement in the early 1990s.

During the trip honouring the 50th anniversary of Cameroon's military, Biya launched his re-election campaign with promises to the region of roads, power plants and a university.

Fru Ndi ran against Biya in 1992, but said this week he could not confirm whether he would stand in next year's election. At Friday's meeting Biya had agreed with some of his concerns about poll preparations, he said.

"We talked together we joked and laughed," he said. "We didn't have much time to talk, but we agreed to meet again very soon to discuss other national issues."

Major resource companies including miner Rio Tinto and oil giant Total are active in Cameroon.

Biya's government is trying to diversify the economy from oil with production declining and a series of hoped-for mining and power developments on the books.

Reuters

 

Last Mod: 11 Aralık 2010, 11:46
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