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Vol 43 No 17

Published 30th August 2002


Winning Biya mile

The government is set free by an election landslide and an opposition collapse

President Paul Biya is now likely to exploit June's electoral triumph by bringing the presidential poll forward a year to late 2003. His Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais won more convincingly than in the stolen vote of 1992 and 1997. Biya has moved key ally Marafa Hamidou Yaya to the Territorial Administration Ministry, which controls the electoral machinery. With 133 of the National Assembly's 180 seats, the RDPC landslide postpones the pressure to tackle corruption. Biya has three alternatives. He can run for re-election, win, and serve a full seven-year term; pick a successor from the RDPC and stand down; or stand, win but not serve the full term. The third choice looks most probable. The legislative elections were a test for potential successors, making them demonstrate the RDPC's support in their home areas. Premier Peter Mafany Musonge, Speaker of the National Assembly Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, RDPC Secretary General Joseph Charles Doumba, and Marafa all passed with flying colours; Marafa, the least overtly ambitious, did best. Like other long-time leaders, Biya needs safety from potential prosecution for human rights abuses and the corruption of his administration. For now the RDPC focuses on holding power through its network of ethnic constituencies: individuals or factions who question Biya's leadership are quickly dismissed or sidelined. To maintain that hold over the party, the Biya succession will be kept opaque.

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