Cameroon’s Paul Biya ‘Easily’ Wins Seventh Term As President

Cameroon’s Paul Biya ‘easily’ won the October 7th vote, successfully entering into his seventh term as President. The 85-year-old received over 71% of the vote, according to Cameroon’s Constitutional Council. President Biya represents the oldest leader in Sub-Saharan Africa’s history and easily surpassed his opposing candidate, Maurice Kamtos who only received around 14% of the vote. The results of the election were announced by Council President, Clement Atangana after the council, which was appointed by President Biya, rejected all 18 legal challenges to the election and defended the election process. Atangana stated, “The election was free, fair and credible in spite of the security challenges in the English-speaking regions,” according to Al Jazeera.

Following the election, many major cities saw a heavy deployment of troops since the government banned any opposition rallies following the vote. Last Monday witnesses told AFP news agency that there was gunfire in Buea, the capital of the English-speaking Southwest region of Cameroon. In the weeks since the vote political tension has only continued to rise according to Al Jazeera. The victory extends Biya’s rule to what could be a 36-year rule and could lead to him remaining in power until he is 92-years-old. The election which led to Biya’s continued reign had a historically low turnout rate in English-speaking regions, only half of Cameroon’s voting-age population took part in the polls according to BBC News. Now after the election, the opposition is calling for a re-run of the presidential election, but the request was rejected by the Constitutional Council last week. Two days prior to the results of the election were announced, Africa’s longest-serving President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of neighbouring Equatorial Guinea, congratulated President Biya on his win.

According to BBC News, threats of violence made against potential voters by rebels in the English-speaking regions deterred many from casting their ballots, and on election day, and the transportation of ballots were also disrupted. Voter turnout in the two English-speaking regions was as low as 5%, according to the International Crisis Group. Among those calling for a re-vote were Biya’s two main competitors for the Presidency, Kamto, and Osih. However, despite many wanting a re-run of the election, all attempts come to an abrupt halt since they must go through the Constitutional Council which was put in place by Biya, who also appointed all of its members. Aside from the dead-end provided by the Constitutional Council, voter turnout was exceptionally low. Election observers from the African Union reported that the polls were, “generally peaceful” but also that “most parties were not represented,” according to BBC News. Destructive distribution of power, Cameroon’s parliamentary and legislative elections were due to take place at the same time as the presidential election but has since been postponed to 2019 resulting in both staying the same at least for a few more months, according to BBC News.

Unless the push to have a re-run of the election gains traction, President Biya will continue to reign Cameroon for what will likely be the rest of his life. Which also means that since he also has control of the Constitutional Council and its members, he will likely have control over all decisions for the nation. However, the task of gaining enough traction for such action will be very difficult and dismantling the reign of such a powerful leader will be even more so.