By Munira Abdelmenan Awel
ANKARA (AA) – Vote counting is still underway in Cameroon’s presidential elections, but the opposition candidate is claiming victory, defying warnings from the electoral commission that only the Constitutional Council can announce the winner.
Opposition leader Maurice Kamto declared himself the winner of Sunday's polls, but the National Vote Counting Commission is still in the process of counting votes, and the final results are expected to be announced before Oct. 22.
Kamto claimed that his party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), had amassed reliable evidence of its win.
The 65-year-old contender told local media that the delay in announcing the results is unnecessary and suspicious.
"In most countries of the world, the results are announced the same evening or the day after the vote. In Cameroon, the Constitutional Council, with all members appointed by the president, has 15 days to do so.
"Why such a delay in 2018 when we have the means to compile the results more quickly? We know that there has been fraud; in the north of the country, communications were cut off between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. without any official reason. Nevertheless, with the results sheets in our possession, I am certain of an undeniable victory," Cameroon News Agency quoted Kamto as saying.
President Paul Biya's People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) is calling on the public to remain calm until the official results are disclosed.
“We ask all our compatriots to remain peaceful as we await the results of the election, to calmly go about their occupations and not to cede to any form of provocation,” said Jean Kuete, secretary general of the CPDM, at a press conference in the capital, Yaounde.
On Wednesday, members of the Constitutional Council addressed concerned bodies about the election and heard complaints from lawyers for opposition parties.
"We want to expect that at the end of the day, all Cameroonians will be happy with the way things went," said Council leader Essombe Emile, who noted that this is the first presidential election to be managed by the newly sworn-in body.
Kamto, a former minister who founded his political party in 2012, will be Cameroon’s first democratically elected president if he wins.
The 85-year-old Biya, Africa’s oldest head of state, has been in power since 1982 and is hoping to serve another seven-year term.