Cameroon: opposition party to boycott general elections

YAOUNDE, Cameroon 

One of Cameroon’s main opposition parties, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), said Tuesday it will boycott legislative and municipal elections in February over security concerns in the English-speaking regions.

Denis Nkemlemo, the SDF’s national secretary for communication, announced the boycott days after President Paul Biya signed a presidential decree announcing elections for members of the National Assembly and municipal councilors to take place next year on Feb. 9.

The elections had been postponed twice due to growing threats from armed separatists in the country’s two English-speaking regions.

A secessionist struggle has been raging in the two regions since October 2016.

Separatists have vowed to disrupt the elections in the Anglophone regions.

“The current security situation in the Southwest and Northwest regions cannot warrant elections there because of raging war,” Nkemlemo told reporters.

Organizing elections when one part of the country is torn apart will only escalate the split of the country, he said, noting that the decision was reached after deep reflection by top party officials.

The SDF is said to enjoy widespread support in the English-speaking regions.

The party insisted that it will only reconsider its position after concrete solutions to the conflict have been implemented.

But Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji had earlier told reporters that “necessary security measures” would be taken to ensure peaceful elections.

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