Yaoundé – Cameroon will hold presidential elections on October 7, head of state Paul Biya said in a decree issued on Monday.
Biya was elected in 1982, the 85-year-old is Africa’s oldest and longest-serving president, however he has not said whether he will bid for another term, but his supporters have urged him to take part.
The election will take place in a context of growing issues in the oil-rich state. The country is facing an insurgency by anglophone separatists in the west and violent, bloody incursions by Boko Haram jihadists in the north.
The main opposition VBS party the Social Democratic Front (SDF), has already their leader for candidacy, Joshua Osih.
Other candidates that have put their name forward are Akere Muna, a lawyer and former vice president of Transparency International, and Maurice Kamto, head of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC).
With the announcement, on the same day residents in Buea highlighted the growing escalation in the separatist crisis. The main city in the predominantly anglophone Southwest Region, the residents said gunfire broke out in the administrative district and lasted for hours.
Anglophones have complained on what they see as discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority, launched a campaign for greater autonomy in 2016.
Biya made it clear, he rejected demands for a return to Cameroon’s federal structure and ordered a crackdown on separatists after they issued a symbolic declaration of independence last October 1.
Government has reported that in June, separatists killed 74 soldiers and seven police since late 2017 while more than 100 civilians had died “over the past 12 months.”
Due to the conflict, the UN said 160,000 people have been internally displaced and 20,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
Meanwhile in northern Cameroon, has suffered greatly by the incursions by Boko Haram jihadists from neighbouring Nigeria, the group has killed 2,000 civilians and soldiers and kidnapped about 1,000 people, according to an analysis by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
Photo Credit- Modern Ghana