June 27, 2011 / 6:39 PM / in 6 years

US urges Cameroon to hold fair election

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - The United States on Monday urged Cameroonian authorities not to stifle the opposition ahead of a presidential poll planned for October.

<p>Cameroon's President Paul Biya (R) and his wife Chantal attend the mass for the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>

U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met with Cameroon president Paul Biya and the country’s prime minister during a visit and urged the leaders to hold a free and fair election, a statement from the U.S. Embassy said.

Cameroon opposition parties have voiced frustration over the electoral system which they said has been tailored by the ruling party in parliament for Biya to win another term and extend his 29-year rule in the oil-producing nation.

“Ambassador Carson urged the Government of Cameroon to make sure governmental authorities allow Cameroon’s citizens to participate in open public discussions about all issues of interest to the voters,” the statement said.

“He (Carson) said...that any intimidation of presidential candidates and leaders of civil society by governmental authorities in the run up to the elections will be viewed by the international community as having a negative impact on the credibility of the electoral process,” it said.

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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