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Cameroon: Retrospective on the 2011 Presidential Election Candidates

This post is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011.

So much has already been said about the recent presidential election in Cameroon: too many candidates [fr], strange promises, unflattering political slogans, and so on. One thing is definite however, the 9 October poll has got people talking.

The ballots are now in and votes being counted; here is a quick review of the candidates programs and slogans.

The clear favourite

Incumbent President, Paul Biya, in office since November 1982, is presenting himself as “the people's choice”. He has promised to make Cameroon an emerging economy by the year 2035, [fr]  and affirms [fr] that his next seven-year term will focus on making “great achievements” come true.

Elacam (Cameroon's election body) distribute voter cards. Image from @billzimmerman via Twitter.

Elacam (Cameroon's election body) distribute voter cards. Image from @billzimmerman via Twitter.

Opposition heavyweights

These are the ones who keep falling short against President Biya, yet remain in opposition at every election.

John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) [fr] is a historic figure of the opposition whose meeting with Paul Biya last December provoked much commotion in the streets and in the press media. He seems more confident than ever, as demonstrated by his slogan: “In your hearts, you know he is right” [fr]. Is he a megalomaniac? In any case, he wishes to lead people to believe that the era of Paul Biya [fr] is now a thing of the past.

Jean Jacques Ekindi (blog) of the Mouvement Progressiste (Progressive Movement – MP), chose the slogan “Together, let's revive Cameroon” and has promised [fr] to establish federalism, as reported by this article from Africapresse.com:

In his political program, the leader of the Mouvement Progressiste is already considering transforming the Republic of Cameroon into a federal State as soon as he reaches the highest office.

Is Cameroon following in the footsteps of the nation formerly known as the Federal Republic of Germany? Only the future will tell.

Garga Haman Adji [fr] of the Alliance pour la Démocratie et le développement (Alliance for Democracy and Development -ADD), is another candidate who cannot be blamed for false modesty.  His slogan “Garga Haman Adji:  the right man to rebuild Cameroon” already says enough about his desire for change.

The blog Sinotables [fr] provides us with details of his program:

Our agricultural policy will be fundamentally groundbreaking, especially in the area of industry.  Agricultural, animal and halieutic production will have to be substantially increased to be able to create and keep industries operating.  It's this agricultural, halieutic and pastoral production that we are going to transform. … Also, we are going to exempt large companies from taxation because we know that tax is not meant to kill the country.  We are going to encourage investors to come to Cameroon instead of doing things that make them run away.

Adamou Ndam Njoya of the Union Démocratique du Cameroun (Democratic Union of Cameroon – UDC) was only recently designated [fr] as the candidate to represent the Équipe Républicaine Démocratique (Democratic Republican Team). Without a well-established program on which to campaign, he is trying to portray himself as the man for the job by making scathing attacks [fr] on the current regime.

What about the women?

For the first time in Cameroon, women are contending [fr] in a presidential election. These women have clearly stated their ambitions and according to Ismaila Hina from Africavox.com, they also hold quite a few trump cards [fr]:

Kah Walla and Esther Dang are the only women who will have their eye on the top job on 9 October. Well-known politicians and well-tried activists with a long list of qualifications between them, they have all it takes to covet the most prestigious position of authority.  This is a first for Cameroonian democracy, now discovering women are on the road to presidential elections.

The “reinstated candidates”

Initially the candidatures of the following candidates were rejected but now they have been reinstated [fr] by the Supreme Court: Grégoire Anicet Ekane of the Mouvement Africain pour la Nouvelle Indépendance et la Démocratie (African Movement for New Independence and Democracy – Manidem), who believes “The time has come for the patriots” [fr]  and Daniel Soh Fone of the Parti Socialiste Unifié (Unified Socialist Party – PSU).

The newcomers

Marcus Lontouo [fr] of the Congrès National Camerounais (Cameroon National Congress – CNC),  Olivier Anicet Bilé [fr], of the Union pour la fraternité et le progrès (Union for Fraternity and Progress – UFP) and Jean de Dieu MOMO [fr] of the Patriotes Démocratiques pour le Développement du Cameroun (Democratic Patriots for the Development of Cameroon – PADDEC), are all presidential candidates for the first time [fr].

Green candidates

Fritz Pierre Ngo is the candidate [fr] from the Mouvement des Ecologistes Camerounais (Movement of Cameroonian Greens – MEC), who is campaigning under the slightly ridiculous slogan – “Cameroon Ecology Yes”.  In an interview [fr] that appears on the site Journal du Cameroun, he sings his own praises and tries to pass himself off as someone who is somewhat misunderstood:

We believe today that we have been on a great journey;  it has been 12 years of sacrifices, sacrifices in the sense that our strength is the experience we bring to our country in the environmental domain, but at the same time we recognise that our weakness is that there is a lot of poverty and we are not responsible for it;  that's why we are looking to the presidential mandate to resolve this scourge.  Unfortunately, this poverty ensures that people don't understand our message but it must be recognised that we have had a brilliant journey.

At least he won't be taken for a dreamer:

Our objective is to be among the first four on the day of this presidential election;  we are clear-headed and realistic when it's said that we can be fourth.  So if we are second, or third or fourth, we are going to hold a bit of power that will allow us to have our voices heard.

As for the other candidates, their virtual absence from the scene and from the political debate means that we forget them, sometimes even their names.

Results are due to be announced at the latest on October 24 but some members of the opposition are already demanding that the elections be canceled [fr] because of irregularities.

This post is part of our special coverage Cameroon Elections 2011.

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