In a statement released early this Tuesday, June 13, Joshua Osih, the party’s first vice-president, announced with deep sadness, “It is with sadness that we announce the transition into eternal glory of the national president of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), Ni John Fru Ndi, on June 12 at 11:30 p.m. in Yaoundé, after a prolonged illness.”
Fru Ndi, a prominent figure and a historical opponent of President Paul Biya, had repeatedly contested against him in the electoral arena. At the age of 82, Fru Ndi had been battling health issues, and concerns about his well-being had been circulating in recent months. He underwent surgery in a hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, and during his absence, Joshua Osih had assumed leadership of the SDF.
Born on July 7, 1941, in Bamenda, in the North-West region of Cameroon, an anglophone area plagued by a deadly conflict since 2016, Fru Ndi, affectionately known as “the chairman,” led the SDF since its establishment in 1990. In 2018, he made the decision not to run for the presidential election and announced his intention to step down as the leader of the SDF during the congress scheduled from July 27 to 29.
In the first multiparty presidential election in Cameroon in 1992, Fru Ndi secured second place with 36% of the votes, trailing behind President Paul Biya, who had held power since 1982, with 40% of the votes.
The opposition leader had vehemently denounced widespread electoral fraud and proclaimed himself the rightful winner. As a result, his residence, the Ntarikon Palace in Bamenda, was placed under surveillance for several months, reflecting the tense political climate at the time.
The passing of John Fru Ndi marks the end of an era for Cameroon’s political landscape, leaving behind a legacy of fierce opposition and tireless dedication to his party and ideals. The nation now mourns the loss of a prominent figure and ponders the implications of his departure for the future of the opposition movement.
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