The Camerouns Republic held its first election for a 100 member National Assembly, Apr 10, since it gained independence from France, Jan 1960.
The Camerouns Republic held its first election for a 100 member National Assembly, Apr 10, since it gained independence from France, Jan 1960. Despite a spate of terrorist raids recently, and a general air of tension immediately preceding the election, polling went off quietly.
Two terrorist raids - April 3 d 7 - on Camerouns chief port, Douala - where casualties still lie in hospital and captured terrorists are held in jail - did not stop the tempo of life in the native quarter. But the European commercial quarter was almost deserted, and stores were shut. Troops and armed gendannes stopped traffic at barbed-wire check-points, and the jail was heavily guarded.
Douala District Governor Nseke briefed polling officials, Apr 9, eve of the election. They were to be firm and impartial when supervising voting. An election in the Camerouns - where tribal, religious, and political feeling runs high - and where many voters are illiterate - requires close control.
Party election preparations were the same as in any other country exhortations to vote stuck on walls, electioneering handbills, and political rallies. Election literature was marked by symbols for illiterate voters.
Dr. Bebey Eyidi, graduate of the Paris Sorbonne and a leader of the Union Populaire Camerounien - a proscribed organisation until quite recently - addressed a meeting in Douala. He said Europeans were welcome in Camerouns but must stay out of politics; the present administration was a virtual extension of French administration. "Sekou Toure has succeeded in Guinea (without the French); we can succeed here. Vote calmly, and we will win," he told his audience.
In fact, it seems almost certain that Ahmadou Ahidjo's Cameroun Union will continue in power; an electoral law of Mar 4 re-drew constituencies and re-allocated Deputies to give the underpopulated Moslem North - which supports Ahidjo - a heavy weight in the poll. It has 44 Deputies to the South's 56; previous ratio was 28 to 42. The opposition is further handicapped by lack of leaders. UPC leader Dr. Felix Moumie fled to Conakry, Guinea, where he set up a government in exile, and despite an Amnesty, refused to return.
If Ahidjo is returned to office - he has governed by decree, without the Assembly, since Oct. 59 - he will have French military help until June. Whether the UPC will be content to remain a constitutional opposition has yet to be seen.