The issue of abuse of public resources by the incumbent is rearing its ugly ahead again as campaigns for Cameroon’s October 7 presidential election gain momentum.
Media reports accuse the ruling Cameroon People Democratic Movement (CPDM) of using government employees and vehicles to campaign for President Paul Biya.
The L’Oeil du Sahel (Eye of the Sahel), a newspaper with a keen interest on Northern Cameroon, said the state machinery was all too apparent as President Biya launched his re-election bid in the Boko Haram-hit Far North on Saturday.
The campaign at the regional capital Maroua was President Biya’s first outing for the October contest. He was accompanied by his wife Chantal.
Security was tight as the incumbent held his meeting.
President Biya, who is seeking a seventh term of office this year, launched campaigns for the 2011 election in the same city and later won, though the opposition claimed the poll was marred by fraud.
Campaigning for next Sunday’s vote is being held amidst a tense environment, especially in the two English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions where separatists have promised to disrupt the electoral process.
President Biya who has uninterruptedly ruled Cameroon for 36 years, will face eight opposition candidates next Sunday. The opposition candidates have been crisscrossing the country since campaigns officially started to woo potential voters.
The 2018 presidential election comes at a time Cameroon is faced with several challenges, including a separatist movement in its two English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions and Boko Haram attacks in the North.
Separatists have threatened to impose a ‘state of emergency’ on the troubled former Southern Cameroon ahead of the vote, vowing to disrupt the electoral process, but Yaoundé has insisted the vote would take place nationwide.
The European Union (EU) has described the October 7 poll as an important opportunity for voters to express themselves freely on the future of Cameroon. It said a peaceful, credible, inclusive and transparent electoral process should enable as many voters as possible to participate, while guaranteeing equal opportunities to all the candidates.
“Any attempt to disturb the vote by acts of violence against people or property must be avoided. The population of the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country must be able to participate fully in the vote, notwithstanding concerns about the security situation and the internal displacement of a significant number of citizens,” the EU said in a statement on Friday.
“It is only through a constructive and inclusive dialogue that a sustainable solution can be found to the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions, and unity among all Cameroonians can be preserved. The European Union supports all initiatives to this end,” the 28-member organisation said further.