On the morning of October 7, eight of Cameroon’s 10 regions will vote in a presidential election that could end the long-running leadership of Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982 and was prime minister in the seven years before that. Dissidents in the remaining two regions – the South West and North West – home to Cameroon’s English-speaking minority, have threatened a showdown. “There is localised violence in the Anglophone regions … more than 1,000 men have pledged to dislodge the elections in those regions by violence,” says Hans de Marie Heungoup, senior analyst for Central Africa at the International Crisis Group. Besides fighting by Boko Haram in the Far North and North regions and rebel incursions from the Central African Republic into the Eastern region, Cameroon is largely beset by the Anglophone crisis, a separatist uprising with roots in the pre-World War I era when it was a German colony.
“We are very much on the brink of a civil war,” said Kah Walla, who is from an Anglophone region. She is the leader of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP), but the group declined to put forward a candidate for the coming vote.
“Separatist groups have gotten to a stage where they control some territory and have promised violence if the authorities attempt to hold elections there and government has vowed to hold elections there. So the population is caught in the middle.”