Paul Biya thanks Cameroonians after winning presidential poll
Cameroonian President-elect Paul Biya expressed gratitude to Cameroonians on Monday after he achieved an overwhelming victory by winning 71.28 percent of the votes.
Cameroonians celebrate at the ruling party Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) headquarters after incumbent President Paul Biya was announced winner of the presidential elections by the Constitutional Council in Yaounde, Cameroon, October 22 2018.[Photo:IC]
"Dear compatriots in Cameroon and the diaspora, thank you for your renewed and large confidence. Let us now join in taking up, together, the challenges that confront us in ensuring a more united, stable and prosperous Cameroon." Biya tweeted hours after the Constitutional Council declared him winner of the poll.
The candidate of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) Maurice Kamto came second with 14.23 percent of votes, while Joshua Osih of the main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) collected only 3.35 percent.
The official results saw a major shake-up in Cameroon's opposition, said Michael Nyugap, professor of political science of the University of Douala. "This means that he (Maurice Kamto) is the emerging leader of the Cameroon opposition," Nyugap told Xinhua.
Nine candidates competed in the Oct. 7 election. The official statistics show that nearly 3.6 million of the 6.7 million registered voters cast their ballots, making a turnout of 53.85 percent, compared with 65.82 percent in 2011 and 82.83 percent in 2004.
The turnout was low in the English-speaking zone, which is the SDF's base, where less than 10 percent of registered voters cast their ballots, amid threats from armed secessionists to disrupt the polls.
For two years, the English-speaking minority, representing 20 percent of the national population, have protested against what they described as marginalization and "francization".
Armed clashes between Cameroonian security forces and separatists, now considered by the government as terrorists, have caused heavy casualties. Many were displaced.
Biya, 85, has been in office since 1982. In the next seven years, he will continue "the decentralization in a united and indivisible Cameroon," according to his 10-point campaign program.
On Oct. 19, the Constitutional Council rejected the last of 18 post-election petitions demanding the cancellation of the poll.
The Constitutional Council's president, Clement Atangana, said the election was "free, transparent, peaceful, and credible."
Cameroon's ruling party, Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM), held ceremonies in the capital Yaounde and commercial metropolis Douala to celebrate Biya's "resounding victory".
"Our candidate is the champion once again. We are here to celebrate a well-deserved victory and call on Cameroonians to stand behind Paul Biya even more as he moves the country towards an emerging nation," Serge Eloundou, an official of the CPDM told Xinhua in Yaounde.
There was heavy deployment of troops in major cities of the country as the celebrations continued, local residents told Xinhua.
According to the electoral code, Biya is expected to take oath of office in no more than 15 days.