May 20, 2011 / 6:44 AM / 9 years ago

US urges Cameroon to hold free and fair election

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a dinner after the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, July 28, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Cameroon on Thursday to hold a free and fair presidential election, expected in October this year.

President Paul Biya, 78, has ruled Cameroon since 1982 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents. He is expected to seek another term in the election after tweaking the constitution in 2008 to remove term limits.

“We look forward to seeing the people of Cameroon exercise their right to vote later this year in a free, fair, and credible presidential election,” Clinton said in a message ahead of Cameroon’s national day which is celebrated on Friday.

Clinton said the United Nations remained committed to working with the oil-exporting Central African nation as it seeks to strengthen democracy, governance, and rule of law.

The election is coming against the backdrop of frustration with the electoral system after parliament, controlled by the ruling CPDM party, stripped the electoral body of the right to announce provisional results in future elections.

The country’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), has threatened to disrupt the election and accused Biya of trying to “steal” another seven-year term by passing new legislation and constitutional changes.

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