Cameroon polls: Kamto camp demands probe into 'ghost observers'

October 10: Kamto camp wants probe into CRTV report

Local media in Cameroon are reporting that the camp of opposition contender Maurice Kamto on Wednesday afternoon held a press conference in the capital Yaounde amid deployment of heavy security.

Kamto’s spokesperson among other demands called for a probe into the false report carried by state broadcaster, CRTV. Kamto’s camp said the TV and ministry responsible for accreditation needed to be probed.

CRTV had carried a news item on Tuesday alleging that Transparency International, TI, had given high marks to the October 7 process. TI in a statement denied the report.

Other issues he raised were that: There was a ploy to blame violence on Kamto, that there was growing tension in the country. He also flatly denied that Kamto was being financed by politicians held in prison over an anti-corruption crackdown, Operation Epervier.

Et la police anti émeutes, le GMI 1, plus un discret dispositif de gendarmerie viennent de se positionner face au QG Kamto…#Etoudi2018 #Cameroun pic.twitter.com/vWAhF80Xg3— Hemisphere Africa (@HmpAfrica) October 10, 2018

Kamto, leader of a two-party alliance declared on Monday, barely twenty-four hours after the vote that he won an emphatic victory. Government slammed his announcement describing it as “irresponsible, illegal.”

The spokesman clarified in later reports that Kamto had only claimed victory based on figures and projections. “Maurice Kamto did not proclaim himself president, he claimed victory, it’s not the same thing,” Olivier Nissack reportedly said.

Photo credit: @HmpAfrica

October 9: State TV accused of fake observer report

Cameroon radio and television, CRTV, the state broadcaster has been exposed by international rights group Transparency International, TI, over a report that the group’s observer team had ‘blessed’ the conduct of the October 7 presidential polls.

CRTV shared a video that purported to have observers with TI but the group in a press statement said it had not sent a team to observe the polls.

“Transparency International confirms that it has no international election observation mission in Cameroon. A recent television report featuring individuals described as working for Transparency International is false and untrue,” a statement read.

It is the most significant development surrounding the polls since opposition candidate Maurice Kamto declared that he had won a clear mandate from the people.

The former Biya minister had been dismissed by the government describing his move as irresponsible and illegal. Kamto’s coalition ally, Akere Muna, is a former TI top official. He resigned to contest the presidential polls but entered an alliance with Kamto less than 24-hours to the vote.

October 8: Kamto makes unofficial victory declaration

Voting closed in Cameroon in Sunday evening and counting of ballots started in earnest. Main opposition Social Democratic Front, SDF, vowed to police the counting and results declaration process.

But it is the declaration of victory by Maurice Kamto, a former Biya minister that has thrown the process into a state of shock. Kamto who led a two-party alliance involving famed lawyer Akere Muna said the goal of his party had been reached.

A summary of the issues he raised in his victory speech (in French) is as follows:

Cameroonians have chosen to go down a historic path by voting out the incumbent.
He has won a clear mandate he is ready to defend firmly.
Called on Paul Biya to make transition arrangement to avert needless post-poll crisis.

His supporters can remain joyful and proud of the achievement.

The moment KamtoOfficiel declared himself winner of the presidential elections (loosely translated):
"I received the mandate to take a historic penalty kick. I took the spot kick. The goal was scored." #elections #Cameroun #Cameroon #Etoudi2018 #237Vote pic.twitter.com/fyDLgV3vIM

— Israel Ayongwa (iayongwa) October 8, 2018

The government has yet to officially react to the development but electoral laws suggest that it is an offense to declare oneself winner of the elections. A point that had been stressed by government in the run up to the vote.

Sections of the Electoral System stipulates that the President of the Republic is elected for a seven-year term by universal suffrage and by direct, equal and secret ballot.

According to the Cameroon electoral code, the president is elected by a single-round majority ballot and the candidate having obtained the majority of the votes cast shall be declared elected.

It also states that election will not be complete until Cameroon’s Supreme Court rules on requests for annulment and announces the results.

October 7, 2018: Cameroon polls take place amid high security in English-speaking zones

Cameroonians voted on Sunday (October 7) in a key presidential election which could end or extend the 36-year rule of President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders.

Polls opened at 0800 local (0700GMT) across much of the country including areas in the restive English-speaking regions. Security has been heightened with armed personnel deployed outside most poling stations.

Reuters reports that three separatists have been shot dead in Bamenda, capital of the northwest region of the country. The northwest and southwest regions have been the epicenter of what has become known as the Anglophone crisis.

A security source told Reuters that the trio had been gunned down for attempting to disrupt the voting process. Separatist groups have vowed to stop the polls from taking place in both regions.

Red carpet for Biya, aspirants cast ballots

BREAKING NEWS. Cameroonian President Paul Biya has arrived to cast his ballot. pic.twitter.com/yQSPqdbvIi— Saddique Shaban (@SaddiqueShaban) October 7, 2018

#Cameroon Opposition candidate Cabral Libii casts his vote; says that the opposition coalition were treating him like a child and questioning his intentions. {Photos Courtesy: oliverwjarvis} pic.twitter.com/pu2GxIMEjD

— CGTN Africa (cgtnafrica) October 7, 2018

#Cameroon: Akere Muna's ballot papers – electoral commission said couldn't be pulled from polling stations despite him withdrawing from race and throwing his support behind Maurice Kamto. #Etoudi2018 #237Vote #Cameroun pic.twitter.com/Xd6bnTuO48— Daniel Finnan (@Daniel_Finnan) October 7, 2018

#Etoudi2018 Updates
Mr and Madame Kamto in the polling station in Yaounde #MimiMefoInfo pic.twitter.com/paQmuEoU9G— Mimi237 (@Mimimefo237) October 7, 2018

#Etoudi2018 Updates JoshuaOsih at Lycee Joss this morning #MImi_Mefo_Info pic.twitter.com/sSdeiTzcpE

— Mimi237 (Mimimefo237) October 7, 2018

#Etoudi2018 Updates

The Prime minister Head of Government Philemon Yang and the North West Governor Adolf lele L'Afrique just voted at Up Station Bamenda #MimiMefoInfo pic.twitter.com/4C8NJoQkzg— Mimi237 (@Mimimefo237) October 7, 2018

Multiple reports of gunshots in NW capital, Bamenda

At 1:30pm Cameroon time,ear-splitting gunshots still being heard across Bamenda.voters Can't go out.streets are deserted.cameroon's premier voted in Bamenda instead of his native Oku village were he registered due to worsening security concerns there.#Etoudi2018— Alphonse Tebeck (@AlphonseTebeck) October 7, 2018

Gunshots in #Bamenda this morning, according to RFI_English correspondent AlphonseTebeck, two suspected separatist fighters killed, town deserted, heavy presence of security forces. #Cameroon #Cameroun #Etoudi2018 #237Vote— Daniel Finnan (@Daniel_Finnan) October 7, 2018

Two separatists have been reportedly killed around hospital roundabout in Bamenda few mintes b4 polls opened in the region. Thr are reports of on going shooting between the military and the separatists. It is nt clear whether voting will continue in this region #cameroondecides— Adesewa Josh (@AdesewaJosh) October 7, 2018

#Etoudi2018

Elections day, #Bamenda wakes up to gun shots in several neighborhoods around 6:30 am

Jesus, take the wheel— Comfort Mussa (@ComfortMussa) October 7, 2018

Did you know that diaporans are voting?

Indeed, Cameroonians in the diaspora are joining in the process of choosing the next president of the country.

Elections body, ELECAM, shared photos of people casting their ballot outside of the country. Among other places, people in Malabo, Cairo, Brussels and Tel Aviv are all voting.

#237vote : bureau de vote de Tel Aviv pic.twitter.com/NONlf9Za7Q— ELECTIONS CAMEROON (@Elecam2018) October 7, 2018

#237Vote : électeur Camerounais à Bruxelles pic.twitter.com/Rrx3FhXvTs— ELECTIONS CAMEROON (@Elecam2018) October 7, 2018

#237Vote : une électrice camerounaise entrain de remplir son devoir civique à Malabo en Guinée Équatoriale. pic.twitter.com/XlSStoET3c— ELECTIONS CAMEROON (@Elecam2018) October 7, 2018

#237Vote: affichage de liste des électeurs à l’entrée du bureau de vote au Caire. pic.twitter.com/b4FMLRKTPg— ELECTIONS CAMEROON (@Elecam2018) October 7, 2018

Will opposition coalition count for much?

In a surprise and belated move with about 24-hours to opening of polls, two opposition members announced a long-expected alliance. Former Biya-era minister Maurice Kamto agreed a coalition with famed lawyer Akere Muna.

Muna’s correspondence to the elections body, ELECAM, to step down as a candidate was however turned down. He has asked his supporters to vote for Kamto. A reported third coalition member, Serge Espoir Matomba, denied agreeing to join late Saturday.

Political watchers said despite the coalition being a welcome move, it had come too late in the day but that its impact will be properly assessed after the close of polls and in the stage of results declaration.

Ex-Togo PM leads AU observers, EU backed out

The European Union, EU, said it will not deploy observers to Cameroon as it has done in almost all previous votes across Africa.

But the African Union, AU, has a team in the country led by former Togolese Prime Minister, Artheme Ahoomey Zunu Kwesi Agbefia Seleakodji Lolonyo. The EU and UN have all called for peaceful and transparent process.

#ArthemeAhoomeyZunuKwesiAgbefiaSeleakodjiLolonyo former Prime Minister of #Togo is leading the _AfricanUnion Election Observation Mission for #Cameroon presidential election AUC_DPA AUC31 AU_PSD Africanelection OIFfrancophonie AfrikParliament AGA_Platform Elecam2018 pic.twitter.com/2kqkakAqpS

— Guy Cyrille Tapoko (GuyCyrille) October 7, 2018

Biya, the 85-year-old long-server gunning to soldier on

A victory for Biya, who has ruled since 1982, would usher in a seventh term for the 85-year-old and see him stay until at least the age of 92, bucking a tentative trend in Africa where many countries have installed presidential term limits.

It would maintain a long held status quo in the oil and cocoa producing Central African country where, despite relative economic stability and growth of over 4 percent a year since Biya was last elected in 2011, many of its 24 million citizens live in deep poverty. Most have only known one president.

Of Biya’s biggest challenges has been the year-old secessionist uprising in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions that has cost hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee either to the French-speaking regions or into neighbouring Nigeria.

It further complicates Cameroon’s security mix, that is, for a country that is still battling Boko Haram insurgents in its Far North region. A new security region was set up in Bamenda in what was seen as a security solution to the separatists.