Two Cameroonian opposition parties have decided to join forces to challenge President Biya, who has held office since 1982.
Popular international lawyer, Akere Muna ‘withdrew his candidacy’ to support Maurice Kamto’ who is the leader of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), Muna’s spokesman said in a statement.
The announcement on Friday confirms rumours of an opposition manoeuver to try to defeat 85-year-old Biya but the new union will not include the main opposition Social Democratic Front’s hopeful Joshua Osih.
On Friday, Kamto’s party alleged that a ‘massive fraud’ was underway to ensure the sitting president wins a seventh term.
Kamto’s campaign chief Paul-Eric Kingue also claimed the electoral commission was in on the plans to rig Sunday’s election
‘We won’t accept any result if this kind of fraud continues,’ he said at a media briefing by Kamto’s MRC in the capital Yaounde.
Complaints like this one are not new in the Cameroon political landscape. In fact, observers and the opposition described the last elections as ‘flawed’ and it has been a recurring accusation that the electoral system is formed to favour Biya, who won the last elections in 2011 by 78%.
Internal travel by air, road, and rail will be restricted 17: 00 GMT until after voting closes on Sunday.
The borders of the central African nation of 25 million people will also be sealed 48 hours before voting day, according to a decree seen by the AFP news agency.
Kamto’s MRC has alleged that polling cards have been forged and that voter registration has continued despite the process being officially closed.
‘In 62 percent of areas, the [ruling] Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party is still adding names to the voter roll,’ said Kingue. ‘We’re not preparing for war, but wherever there is fraud, there will be a firm response.’
Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement that ‘measures have been taken … to prevent any actions that might create violence or disorder around the elections.’
He added that ‘political figures linked to foreign interests were preparing groups of agitators to stir up violence in the event that the results don’t go their way.’
The minister did not specify who he was referring to.
‘By attempting to spread chaos, they risk being unpleasantly surprised,’ he said. The authorities would ‘not tolerate any disorder before, during or after the presidential vote,’ he added.
Biya is Africa’s longest ruling president with 35 years in office. With Akere Muna’s withdrawal, he now faces seven contenders, with Osih and Kamto being the more serious threats.