Besieged leader of Cameroon opposition warns of civil war


Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 30 October 1992


HUNDREDS of troops in Cameroon were last night surrounding the home of the main opposition leader, who warned of possible civil war. A state of emergency was declared in opposition areas following a presidential election which foreign observers said was fraudulently won by President Paul Biya.

John Fru Ndi, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Front, speaking by telephone from the west Cameroon town of Bamenda last night, predicted further violence following the publication of election results which gave Mr Biya, ruler under the former single-party system since 1982, 39 per cent of the vote. Mr Fru Ndi was deemed to have won 35 per cent.

Election observers from the US National Democratic Institute in a report published this week said the government-created procedures for the election were “designed to fail” so that whatever the true outcome Mr Biya would win.

Thousands of troops were sent to Cameroon’s largely English-speaking western area when demonstrations left several dead, one of them burned to death and another shot by security forces, according to Mr Fru Ndi.

“I foresee violence coming up. Even civil war, because lots of the people who were brutalised by the regime before the election are now once again being brutalised,”said Mr Fru Ndi. He and his supporters are trapped in his house because of the military cordon around his compound, he said.

France, which backs Mr Biya and sent no official observers to the election, yesterday sent an official delegation to hold talks with Cameroon political leaders in a bid to defuse the crisis in its former colony where French companies have enormous investment.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited