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Paul Biya,85 wins 7th term as Cameroonian president

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Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist since 1982, on Monday won a landslide victory in a controversial presidential election, as the government tightened security in the capital and gunfire erupted in the volatile Anglophone region.

The Constitutional Council, dominated by Biya loyalists, on Monday said Biya had won 71.3 percent of the ballot in the October 7 election, marred by allegations of widespread fraud, a low turnout and violence in the poll run-up.

The Council’s head Clement Atangana said opposition challenger Maurice Kamto, was a far second with 14.2 percent of the vote.

Voting was disrupted in Francophone Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions, where a separatist movement has unleashed a brutal government crackdown. Turnout here was below five percent, according to the International Crisis Group think tank.

Witnesses on Monday told AFP of gunfire during the morning in Buea, capital of the English-speaking Southwest region, which has been rocked by violence for months.

AFP journalists reported tight security around the main post office in the capital Yaounde after calls on social media for a protest rally against the results.

Anti-riot police trucks and security forces were deployed across the area.

Authorities on Sunday had banned an opposition march in the commercial capital Douala called to denounce the “shameful and massive fraud” in the election. About 30 people were arrested on the spot, AFP journalists reported.

Kamto, who pronounced himself the winner of the vote before even the first results were announced — leading the government to brand him an outlaw — has alleged that six of the 11 members of the Constitutional Council were biased in Biya’s favour.

Kamto has also called for the vote to be annulled in seven of the country’s 10 regions, citing “multiple irregularities, serious cases of fraud and multiple violations of the law”.

Biya became prime minister in 1975, but precisely how he was anointed to succeed Cameroon’s founding president Ahmadou Ahidjo in November 1982 remains a mystery.

Unlike more fiery and flamboyant peers in the club of long-standing African leaders, critics say Biya — who is nicknamed “The Sphinx” — is a quiet autocrat.

In a rare moment of candour, he once warned of his sweeping powers telling a Cameroonian journalist in 1986: “Just a little shake of my head and you’ll be reduced to nothing.”

(AFP)

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