Cameroon 's President Paul Biya announced the country's first regional elections in December, including in the English-speaking provinces, where years of fighting between the government and separatists cost some 3,000 lives. Biya, which has been in f...
Cameroon 's President Paul Biya announced the country's first regional elections in December, including in the English-speaking provinces, where years of fighting between the government and separatists cost some 3,000 lives.
Biya, which has been in force since 1982, signed a decree on Monday allowing indirect elections on 6 December in the 10 regions of the country, including the majority of the North-West and South-West provinces.
The polls will set up the councils provided for in the 1996 constitution to move towards, but not yet implemented, decentralization.
The regions will elect 90 councilors who will have limited powers on local issues. Twenty of them are going to be representatives of traditional chieftains.
The two Anglophone regions are home to a large minority of English speakers in a country where French speakers are the overwhelming majority – a situation that is the legacy of the decolonisation of Western Africa by France and Britain more than 60 years ago.
At the end of 2016, the central government 's longstanding complaints of political and economic discrimination against English speakers arose as lawyers, students and teachers began calling for reforms.
The government's lethal reaction to the demonstrations prompted the rebels to declare independence for the area they label "Ambazonia" in 2017, prompting a tougher crackdown by the authorities. Since then, both sides have been accused of committing atrocities in a conflict that has forced hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes.
Biya, 87, promised the two regions a special status in a bid to quell the unrest.
John Fru Ndi, leader of the key opposition party, said he would boycott the election unless there is a truce first in the English-speaking regions.
The constitution of 1996 limited the presidents to two terms of seven years, but Biya 's party dropped the term limits in 2008, allowing him to run again and extend his rule