Cameroon trims electoral body’s powers before vote

2011-04-09 12:40

Yaounde – Cameroon’s parliament stripped its electoral body of the right to announce provisional results in future elections, and opposition parties called the move a “foul game” by President Paul Biya to steal another term.

The government proposed the change in light of the violent post-election crisis in Ivory Coast, where electoral commission results showing incumbent Laurent Gbagbo lost were quickly reversed by the country’s highest court.

Cameroon’s new law gives the Constitutional Council exclusive power to release results from future elections, stripping the electoral body ELECAM of the right to issue partial and provision numbers as ballots are counted.

“We foresee the ruling party being up for another foul game as presidential elections are expected later this year,” said Joseph Banadzem, an official in the main opposition party Social Democratic Front (SDF).

“The president of the constitutional council can just sit in Yaounde and declare anything he wants,” he said.

Biya, who took office in 1982, is one of Africa’s longest serving leaders and is expected to seek another term in a vote to be held this year in the oil-producing Central African state.

The new law also expands the number of positions on the electoral commission’s board from 12 to 18.

New members have yet to be appointed to the body, and opposition groups said they hoped the members would be neutral.

The 12-member body in its current form includes 11 hardline members of Biya’s CPDM party.

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