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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
'Low turnout' in Cameroon voting
Cameroonian political activists
The president's supporters wear garments adorned with his face
Voters in Cameroon have gone to the polls to elect a new parliament amid opposition claims of widespread fraud.

Reports suggested a low turnout and no queues were seen at most booths in the capital, Yaounde.

Opposition to President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 25 years, is limited and only 5.5m of the 18m population has signed up to vote.

Mr Biya's Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People party holds 149 of the 180 seats in parliament.

Indelible ink

"The campaign took place in a calm, serene and peaceful atmosphere. I hope things will continue in this manner throughout the electoral process and people will accept the verdict of the polls," President Biya said after casting his vote in Yaounde, news agency Reuters reported.

President Biya's term in office is due to come to an end in 2011.

We have learnt that Biya wants to modify the constitution to run for a third term. This we cannot allow to happen
Opposition MP John Fru Ndi

BBC correspondents say there are reports he wants to maintain his big majority to enact legislation allowing an extension of his rule.

The opposition says indelible ink used to mark those who have already voted easily washes off and that some people have been refused ballot papers.

"These are all indications that the election is being rigged already," John Fru Ndi, chairman of the main opposition SDF party, told the Reuters news agency.

He added: "We have learnt that Biya wants to modify the constitution to run for a third term. This we cannot allow to happen."

Mr Biya's critics say he has presided over a repressive system. They say there was also widespread fraud in earlier ballots.

But his supporters say he has held Cameroon together and in peace.

The country is composed of many ethnic groups and divided between English and French-speaking areas.

Cameroon's borders have been closed and businesses shut for the election.

Country profile: Cameroon
16 Jun 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Cameroon
16 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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