Armed Cameroon protest - Biya go

2011-09-29 21:01

Yaounde - Armed men dressed as soldiers fired into the air and stopped traffic in south Cameroon on Thursday, demanding the departure of long-serving President Paul Biya ahead of a controversial poll.

The men fired their weapons at the main bridge in Douala, the economic capital of the west African nation that holds a presidential election on October 9, according to media reports and law enforcement sources.

Cameroon Radio-Television reported that the perpetrators were members of and "unidentified... armed group".

Earlier a source in the security services told AFP that the men were soldiers.

Before being apprehended, the protestors stopped traffic for several hours on the Wouri Bridge and unfurled a banner calling on Biya to go.

It was unclear how many people were involved in the protest, with a minister requesting anonymity saying there was one person involved, some media saying it was three people and two separate security sources putting the number at either five or 10.

The outburst comes as tension builds in the country ahead of the elections which 78-year-old Biya, one of Africa's longest-standing heads of state, plans to contest.

On Tuesday the country's main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, (SDF) denounced what it said were irregularities in the organisation of the poll.

"There is a whole mountain of irregularities," Evariste Fopoussi, the SDF's point man during the campaign, told AFP, citing double entries or missing names in electoral rolls as well as delays in preparation.

Civil society movements accuse Biya of having locked down the electoral system to ensure that he is returned to power.

Cameroon's Supreme Court has validated 23 candidates for the presidency, including Biya and John Fru Ndi, the veteran opposition candidate of the SDF.

Read more on:    paul biya  |  cameroon  |  central africa
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