Cameroonians head to the polls on Sunday with octogenarian President Paul Biya seeking a seventh term against a backdrop of unprecedented violence in the country’s English-speaking regions, Daily Mail reports.
Looming over the polls is a secessionist uprising in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions that has cost hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee either to the French-speaking regions or into neighboring Nigeria.
Separatists had vowed to stop the polls from taking place Sunday and have blocked the main highways. Residents in those areas told Reuters that they would not vote anyway because of the insecurity.
For the last two years violence has been escalating in the English speaking north-west and south-west regions of the country with reports of atrocities against civilians being carried out by the Cameroonian military as well as by separatist groups.
The violence has claimed the lives of at least 420 civilians, 175 members of the security forces and an unknown number of separatists, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank.
Sunday’s elections will be the 11th presidential election since Cameroon’s independence in 1960. There are nine candidates, and six of them are running for the first time.
Around seven million voters are expected to vote. According to Cameroon law, election results must be announced within 15 days.