Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - There are 9 candidates for the presidential election scheduled for Sunday 7 October in Cameroon. Among these there is outgoing President, Paul Biya, 85, in power since 1982, who aims at obtaining a seventh term.
Several Catholic parishes have organized moments of prayer for the vote to take place peacefully and so that Cameroon can overcome its difficulties without major traumas.
The Country in fact awaits the vote with anxiety over the fear of violence especially in areas where the tension is already high, like the English-speaking regions that a year ago symbolically proclaimed secession, giving itself the name of Ambazonia (see Fides 2/10/2017). The extreme north of the Country is instead upset by the raids of Boko Haram, an Islamist group born in neighboring Nigeria that sows death and destruction even in neighboring Countries. Tensions in the English-speaking and northern regions have caused thousands of people to flee to other areas of Cameroon and abroad. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 10,000 Cameroonians, 80% of whom are women and children, are welcomed in makeshift camps in Nigeria. There are 238,000 displaced people in the far north and more than 300,000 in the English-speaking regions.
Cameroon also has to face a serious economic crisis and the rekindling of ethnic rivalries, fueled by the spread of ethnic hate messages that are spread on social media. Majority and opposition have exploited these divisions in their electoral campaign, fueling new tensions and justifications to create violent clashes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/10/2018)