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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Angry protest ahead of Cameroon poll
President Paul Biya
Questions are raised about President Biya's 10 years in power

There have been angry scenes in Cameroon's commercial capital just ahead of Sunday's elections.

Thousands of supporters of the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, have stormed four administrative offices in Douala demanding their voters cards.

The parliamentary and municipal elections, which were scheduled to start last Sunday, were postponed at the last moment for a week.

In one office, about 1,500 people occupied the premises to protest at delays in getting their cards, but the divisional officer failed to show up after alleged threats to lynch him if he did.

Opposition politician Ndangle John Komassi said they had evidence that the administrative authorities in the province were biased towards ruling party supporters.

This, he said, meant English speaking voters and opposition supporters, were not being allowed to vote.

Arrest

One SDF parliamentary aspirant, Jean Michel Nitcheu, led a crowd of angry militants to storm a divisional office in Logbaba where some 30.000 voters cards are still unaccounted for.

One SDF militant was arrested and a local journalist was also roughed up by police after they were brought in to quell the protests.

Apparently prompted by incessant reports of problems with voters cards, new Interior Minister Hamidou Marafa Yaya paid an unannounced visit to Douala on Friday where he met four provincial governors and security personnel.

The Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) of President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since coming to power under a one-party system in 1982, held a majority of 116 seats in the outgoing 180-member assembly.

Besides being home to about 250 ethnic groups, Cameroon has a small English-speaking region in the west. French is the predominant language elsewhere.

It is also split along religious lines, with a Muslim north and a mainly Christian south.

See also:

23 Jun 02 | Africa
21 May 02 | Africa
22 Feb 02 | Africa
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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