The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) looks set to take 100% of the Senate seats in polls that were held 12 March.
This is what emerged from the hearing on the post-election dispute, which was held on 21 March before the Constitutional Council, the last step before the official proclamation of results.
For nearly five hours, Constitutional Council President Clement Atangana and his peers examined the complaints filed by three political groups: the Cameroonian Democratic Front (FDC) of Denis Emilien Atangana, the Social Democratic Front (SDF) of John Fru Ndi and the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) of Bello Bouba Maigari.
‘Intimidation, fraud and lack of transparency’
The FDC called for the annulment and partial re-run of the elections, especially in the Nanga Eboko High School polling station in Upper Sanaga and in the Central Region. SDF representative Mafogho Inusa Petiangma called for the cancellation of the elections in the north-west region for “intimidation, fraud and lack of transparency”.
In this SDF stronghold, the CPDM won all the seats despite a deep political and security crisis. In the third appeal, the UNDP sought the cancellation of the elections in the Far North region.
All these requests were declared inadmissible by the Constitutional Council. This decision confirms the clear victory of the CPDM, which took the 70 senatorial seats at stake in this election by indirect suffrage.
All eyes are now on President Paul Biya, who is constitutionally responsible for appointing the remaining 30 senators. In practice, the majority of nominations are reserved for politicians at the end of their careers and traditional leaders.
This is a way of rewarding the loyalty of those who have struggled to find a place at the heart of the system, but also of consolidating alliances, often on a tribal basis.
What will become of Marcel Niat Njifenji?
If Biya follows his traditional habit, he will also use this opportunity to offer some seats to allied parties. In the outgoing Senate, the CPDM and its allies held 93 seats out of 100, with the remaining seven going to the SDF.
It remains to be seen whether Biya will keep 88-year-old Marcel Niat Njifenji at the head of the upper house. This Bamileke apparatchik was retired and living far from public life when Biya called him back in 2013, and his health is failing.
It is not clear, however, whether the Cameroonian president will choose to release him from his responsibilities. As the second most important person in the government, it is Njifenji who must take over in case of a vacancy at the top.
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