Insurgency and political distrust overshadow the beginning of presidential elections in Cameroon today. The vote is expected to return President Paul Biya, a relic of Africa’s post-colonial era, to another seven-year term.
Nine candidates will appear in Sunday’s election, the most prominent challenger being Maurice Kamto of the CRM, a former justice minister. However, the 36-year rule of President Biya has left the country politically discontent and an opposition that is poorly equipped and unable to field strong opponents to challenge Biya. In recent weeks, rising insurgent violence in the country’s English-speaking regions have raised concerns that an estimated five million people in these Anglophone regions will be unable to reach a ballot box. The ongoing insurgency began as part of efforts by these regions to gain greater recognition of the Anglophone regions, however a subsequent crackdown by the central government has elevated the campaign to threaten secession.
Prospects for political change appear unlikely, and violence is likely to continue in the country’s Anglophone regions. The inability of a moderate opposition to challenge Biya and provide a middle ground in between incumbent politicians and insurgents leaves little doubt that the crisis is likely to continue.
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Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.