Cameroon president's campaign tactic strategy sparks concern

An election sign showing current Cameroon President Paul Biya on display in Yaounde

Story highlights

  • Both supporters and opponents are critical of President Biya's lack of campaigning
  • "We are very worried and bitter," one supported says
  • Fru Ndi, one of 22 opposition candidates, accuses Biya of planning to rig the election
Both supporters and opponents of Cameroon President Paul Biya say they are concerned about his complacent attitude in the campaign leading to the October 9 election, with some saying he plans to win through election rigging and fraud.
Campaigning enters the final phase this week with all 22 opposition candidates crisscrossing the nation, but Biya has not been seen campaigning anywhere in the field.
"We are very worried and bitter about our candidate sitting in the air-conditioned office and sending us to the field as if we are slaves," Christopher Ambe told CNN. "He is very proud even to go down to the ordinary Cameroonian on the streets."
Ambe said young people are being paid by Biya's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement to take to the streets in support of the leader, who has been in power for nearly 30 years.
A citizen who spoke to CNN on grounds of anonymity noted that "in other countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana, we see other presidents who seek re-election campaigning in villages and on streets. If our president is too old to do that, let him step down for the young leaders to have a chance."
The main opposition candidate of the Social Democratic Front, John Fru Ndi, is now seen as the only candidate touring all 10 regions of the West African nation. Fru Ndi accused Biya of planning to rig the election.
Another opposition candidate, Paul Ayah Abine, pointed to the uneven distribution of government campaign money to political parties. He said Biya's party has nearly 20 billion central African francs (about $40 million) while the other 22 candidates have less than 1 billion.
A leading campaigner for Biya, Atanga Nji Paul, Sunday told a rally in the Northwest region that all other parties are poor and wretched.
Some observers say Biya's supporters are buying people's votes with money.
A young Cameroonian, Bertin Kisob, whose candidacy was rejected by Elections Cameroon, is calling on youth to take to the streets in a violent protest. Last week he claimed responsibility for being behind a gun battle in the Wouri area of Douala that lasted hours.
Kisob told CNN he is ready to disrupt the polls and put the regime of the dictator to an end.
"There can never be free and fair elections in this country. If so, we could have seen the change in 2007," he said.