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Paul Biya Wins Cameroon Election To Extend 36-Year Rule

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroonian President Paul Biya has won re-election by a landslide, official results showed on Monday, extending his 36-year rule despite claims from two leading opposition candidates that the vote was fraudulent.

At 85, Biya is the oldest leader in sub-Saharan Africa and the victory cements his place as one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers. Most Cameroonians have known only him as president.

At 85, Biya is the oldest leader in sub-Saharan Africa and the victory cements his place as one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers. Most Cameroonians have known only him as president.

The announcement follows two weeks of tension in the coffee- and oil-producing country where, despite economic growth above 4 percent a year since the last election, most people live in poverty.

Kamto claimed victory for himself on Oct. 8 based on his campaign’s figures, and in recent days police silenced opposition marches in the port city of Douala where he is popular.

“We solemnly and categorically reject these manufactured results and refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the Head of State,” Kamto said in a statement. “We will use all means of law to restore the truth of the ballot box.”

The announcement follows two weeks of tension in the coffee- and oil-producing country where, despite economic growth above 4 percent a year since the last election, most people live in poverty.

Kamto claimed victory for himself on Oct. 8 based on his campaign’s figures, and in recent days police silenced opposition marches in the port city of Douala where he is popular.

“We solemnly and categorically reject these manufactured results and refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the Head of State,” Kamto said in a statement. “We will use all means of law to restore the truth of the ballot box.”

STRUGGLE FOR SECESSION

The secessionist movement began in reaction to a government clampdown on peaceful protests calling for an end to the marginalisation of Cameroon’s English-speaking minority. Police killed civilians, sparking further protests.

The army burned villages and killed unarmed civilians, residents told Reuters, forcing thousands to flee to French-speaking regions or neighbouring Nigeria. Ghost towns are all that remain of once vibrant cities in those regions.

Turnout was 5 percent in the Northwest and 16 percent in the Southwest. In an area of 5 million English speakers, less than 100,000 voted.

Despite the unrest, and a desire among the young for change, the opposition appeared unable to mount a credible challenge to Biya who, despite long absences in Switzerland, has kept core support. He has also benefited from apathy from many who saw no point in voting.

“I voted for the opposition even though I did not trust them. I wanted anything but Paul Biya,” said Jerome, an unemployed 32-year-old. “My three children will have no future as long as he is there.”

The only current African president to have ruled longer than Biya is Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

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