Photo: UNHCR/D. MbaioremCameroonians will head to the polls today for legislative and municipal elections. However, it is unclear if the
Photo: UNHCR/D. MbaioremCameroonians will head to the polls today for legislative and municipal elections. However, it is unclear if the security climate and violence on the ground will allow for a fair and free vote, as the Cameroonian army is deployed throughout the country.
The elections were originally scheduled for 2018. However, growing political fragmentation and President Paul Biya’s inability to stem violence in two regions caused a two-year delay in voting.
In northern Cameroon, ISIS-aligned Boko Haram has executed numerous attacks, notably against the border town of Fotokol, forcing many eligible voters to flee to neighbouring Nigeria and Chad. In the south, separatist rebels and warlords who oppose President Biya’s three-decade rule are fighting for independence; they represent an Anglophone minority in the majority French state.
With 40,000 Cameroonians seeking refuge and over 450,000 internally displaced, turnout is expected to be very low. While decentralisation of the Anglophone region was established in 2019, it is unlikely that Biya will tolerate the election of any candidates who advocate for succession. His reluctance to engage with such leaders means that what Cameroonians have dubbed the ‘Anglophone crisis’ is unlikely to be addressed peacefully.
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