Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cameroon trims electoral body's powers before vote

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon's parliament stripped its electoral body of the right to
announce provisional results in future elections, and opposition parties called the move a
"foul game" by President Paul Biya to steal another term.

The government proposed the change in light of the violent post-election crisis in Ivory
Coast, where electoral commission results showing incumbent Laurent Gbagbo lost were quickly
reversed by the country's highest court.

Cameroon's new law gives the Constitutional Council exclusive power to release results from
future elections, stripping the electoral body ELECAM of the right to issue partial and
provision numbers as ballots are counted.

"We foresee the ruling party being up for another foul game as presidential elections are
expected later this year," said Joseph Banadzem, an official in the main opposition party
Social Democratic Front (SDF).

"The president of the constitutional council can just sit in Yaounde and declare anything he
wants," he said.
Biya, who took office in 1982, is one of Africa's longest serving leaders and is expected to
seek another term in a vote to be held this year in the oil-producing Central African state.

The new law also expands the number of positions on the electoral commission's board from 12
to 18. New members have yet to be appointed to the body, and opposition groups said they
hoped the members would be neutral.

The 12-member body in its current form includes 11 hardline members of Biya's CPDM party.

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