Cameroon’s elections management body says it has received 25 petitions from candidates and voters calling for the Oct. 7 presidential election to be annulled.
Candidates Cabral Libii of the opposition Universe party and Joshua Osih of the opposition Social Democratic Front are among those who want the polls annulled. They allege massive fraud and ballot stuffing in favor of President Paul Biya’s ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party.
Cleric Rigobert Gabanmidanha of the Live and Peace Ministry also petitioned for the cancellation of the polls. He claims the constitutional council that certifies election results is controlled by Biya and that many opposition supporters like himself were not allowed to vote.
Gabanmidanha says he went to his polling station with his voter card but was told that his name was not on the list of registered voters. He also says he had applied to be a candidate in the election but was rejected for not presenting all the required documents.
Thirteen of the petitions to annul the election were from another would-be presidential candidate, Bertin Kisob, who is on pre-trial detention for supporting Anglophone separatists.
Kisob, who was also rejected as a candidate, says members of his Cameroon Party for Social Justice reported irregularities and fraud that favored Biya.
Cameroon’s minister of Labor and Social Security, Gregoire Owona, has described the complaints as a distraction.
He says there should be no confusion on the role played by independent state institutions in the electoral process and by their candidate Biya, who is still president. Owona reiterates that all state institutions are independent and act as such.
Cameroon’s election body, ELECAM, has denied any vote-rigging.
The head of ELECAM’s legal unit, Mbufong Marcel Kumfa, says opposition parties have no evidence on which to base their claims as they failed to send representatives to many polling stations.
“The members of the local polling commission all sign the result sheets after counting and each representative of the candidate go home with an original copy, so if you don’t send a representative as the law requires, you cannot have the result sheets from that polling station because you were not present,” Kumfa said.
Opposition candidates say they were chased from polling stations by Biya’s supporters, the military and armed gangs.
The Cameroon Renaissance Movement’s Maurice Kamto, who this week claimed victory, though without any evidence, is asking for a partial cancellation of election results.
Kamto alleges the military rigged polls in the restive northwest and southwest English-speaking regions, where they were sent to secure polling stations.
Armed Anglophone separatists had vowed to disrupt the election.
The military says it only assisted by protecting voters and that no troops entered polling stations.
The electoral commission has until the end of the week to respond to the petitions. The constitutional court has to rule on the claims before announcing the vote’s final outcome on Oct. 22.
Biya faced seven candidates in the poll. He has ruled Cameroon for 36 years, and is widely expected to claim another seven-year mandate.