Presidential Voting Off to Slow Start in Cameroon

Posted October 9th, 2011 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Voting in Cameroon's presidential election got off to a slow start Sunday, with polls opening later than expected.

Incumbent President Paul Biya is expected to win a new seven year term, extending his 29-year rule over the central African state.

The 78-year old leader is facing a fractured opposition, with a record 22 candidates running against him.

President Biya's main opponent is John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front, who received only 17 percent of the vote in the last election, in 2004.

Mr. Biya won the 2004 election with 70 percent of the ballots.

The opposition has accused Cameroon's electoral commission of favoring the ruling party and there have been complaints about irregularities on voter lists.

A top member of the election board, Elecam, was fired days before Sunday's vote on allegations of violating the oath of office by campaigning for President Biya.

Mr. Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982. In 2008 he eliminated term limits mandated by the constitution so he could run for re-election this year. The move sparked street protests in which at least 40 people were killed.

Cameroonians remain frustrated by high unemployment and the rising cost of living.