With less than 48 hours to Sunday’s presidential election in Cameroon, two opposition candidates have formed a coalition, according to the spokesperson of Akere Muna, one of the candidates.
“Akere Muna agrees to withdraw his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic (…) and to support Maurice Kamto in the said elections,” said a statement signed by Akere Muna’s spokesman, Paul Mahel.
Nine candidates will run for the presidency of Cameroon on Sunday, including incumbent president Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982.
This is the first time since the 1992 presidential election that two opponents of Paul Biya have formed a coalition against the outgoing president.
“This coalition, interesting for the vitality of Cameroonian political life, might have come too late to create a fundamental difference,” Hans de Marie Heungoup, a researcher at the International Crisis Group (ICG) analysis centre, told AFP.
Kamto, a former Minister Delegate of Justice between 2004 and 2011, founded his political party in 2012. He is considered a strong contender by analysts.
A celebrated lawyer, Kamto successfully negotiated for his country during the territorial dispute with Nigeria on the Bakassi peninsula.
His supporters consider his experience in the state apparatus to be an asset while his critics faulty him for being a supporter of Paul Biya in the past.
Akere Muna is the former President of the Cameroon Bar and founder of the Cameroonian branch of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International.
He was also a strong opponent of Paul Biya, despite having run a relatively low-key campaign.
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On Friday morning, the Kamto camp accused the government of preparing a “massive fraud” ahead of Sunday’s election.
“We will not accept any results if this type of fraud continues,” said Maurice Kamto’s campaign manager Paul-Eric Kingue.
The government spokesperson warned the opposition against organising any election related chaos.
“In trying to organize chaos, they may be unpleasantly surprised,” said Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary.
While Paul Biya has been described as ‘the invisible candidate’, holding only one rally in the Northern region last week, he is widely expected to win his 7th term in office.
The presidential election will be held in a particularly complex security context, with armed conflict in the two English-speaking regions of the Northwest and Southwest and repeated attacks by Boko Haram jihadists in the Far North region.