Bloomberg News

Cameroon’s President Biya Wins Vote, Extending 29-Year Rule

October 21, 2011

(Updates with number of ballots in second paragraph.)

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, was declared the winner of an Oct. 9 presidential election, extending his 29-year rule of Africa’s fourth-biggest cocoa producer.

The 78-year-old leader got 3.8 million votes, or 78 percent, according to Chief Justice Alexis Dipanda Mouelle, the head of the Supreme Court. Opposition candidate John Fru Ndi, who was vying for the presidency for a third time, was second with 11 percent, or 578,000 votes, Mouelle said in Yaounde, the capital, today, after reading results from each region of the country and voters overseas in a statement that lasted more than eight hours. Voter turnout was 65 percent, he said.

Biya benefited from a fractured opposition to consolidate power and become Africa’s fourth-longest sitting leader. During the campaign, he pledged to boost investment in agriculture in a country where half the population make a living from farming and spur economic growth that the World Bank says isn’t fast enough to cut poverty. Biya won 71 percent of votes in the previous election held in 2004.

Yesterday, the court rejected petitions filed by candidates that called for some or all of the results to be canceled, Mouelle said. The 20 claims, including complaints about late opening of some polling stations, absence of indelible ink, voter intimidation, forced abstention and sharing of multiple electoral cards, were rejected because of an absence of “justified or justifiable facts,” he said.

Observers from the U.S. found “irregularities at all levels,” Agence France-Presse reported yesterday, citing Ambassador Robert Jackson. The African Union’s observer mission declared the vote “free, transparent and credible” in an Oct. 11 statement.

Cameroon generates 35 percent of its foreign income from oil, according to the Pretoria, South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies. On Oct. 14, U.K.-listed oil explorer BowLeven Plc said it discovered oil in an exploration well in the Douala Basin.

Barry Callebaut SA, the Zurich-based confectioner, operates a cocoa-processing plant with the Cameroonian government and companies including MTN Group Ltd., the South African mobile- phone operator and Paris-based building-products maker Lafarge SA have units in the country.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Gordon Bell.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pius Lukong in Yaounde via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.


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