With less than 48 hours to Sunday’s presidential election in Cameroon, the atmosphere doesn't tell a good tale. Nine candidates will run for the presidency of Cameroon on Sunday, including incumbent president Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982. He was, in fact, prime minister in the seven years before that.
While many observers believe that Paul Biya should allow someone else to take the reins of affairs in the country have ruled it for the past four decades, the reactions of some youths in the country say otherwise.
"Young people may be eloquent. They may make big promises, but none of them can have the steady hands to run a large country like Cameroon," says party supporter Emmanuel Ndam, 58.
"For over 30 years, our president has been tested by various crises, and each time, he has been able to overcome," Mr. Ndam adds.
"Just look at the mature way he handled the Bakassi crisis with Nigeria. Some hot-headed youth could just have messed up the situation," he adds, before making his way into the meeting hall.
His comrade Alice Meye, 22, agrees. She says only President Biya has the wherewithal to resolve Cameroon's myriad crises, most urgent of which is the unrest in the country's two English-speaking regions.
"We have a president who does what he promises to do. He has said he will solve the problems of our Anglophone brothers. Let's give him a chance."
"Even in death, President Paul Biya will continue to reign," she said.
But not everyone believes Mr. Biya, Africa's second-longest serving leader, still has the charisma and the physical stamina to stay at the helm.
Picking out specks of beef from his teeth with a wooden pick, Ibrahima Sadiki, a resident of the capital Yaoundé's swampy Briqueterie slum tells the BBC "the old man is tired".
"This is a man who should normally stay quietly in the village, playing with his grandchildren."
Separatists in Cameroon’s troubled English-speaking minority regions have threatened a showdown. Now, the result of that threat- thousands of people in the region are fleeing ahead of Sunday’s election.
More than 300,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes, according to the International Crisis Group.
The Cameroon Development Corporation - the second-largest employer after the state - has lost 50% of its production, according to its Director General Frankline Njie.
According to the IMF, Cameroon has lost more than 24 billion CFA francs ($42m; £32m) in 2018 alone as a result of the crisis.
In a bid to amass enough votes to topple Biya, two opposition candidates have formed a coalition, according to the spokesperson of Akere Muna, one of the candidates.
“Akere Muna agrees to withdraw his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic and to support Maurice Kamto in the elections,” said a statement signed by Akere Muna’s spokesman, Paul Mahel.
Who is Maurice Kamto?
Kamto, a former Minister Delegate of Justice between 2004 and 2011, founded his political party in 2012. He is considered a strong contender by analysts.
A celebrated lawyer, Kamto successfully negotiated for his country during the territorial dispute with Nigeria on the Bakassi peninsula.
His supporters consider his experience in the state apparatus to be an asset while his critics fault him for being a supporter of Paul Biya in the past.
Who is Akere Muna?
Akere Muna is the former President of the Cameroon Bar and founder of the Cameroonian branch of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International.
He was also a strong opponent of Paul Biya, despite having run a relatively low-key campaign.
The next president of Cameroon will be decided on Sunday and only time will tell the fate of Cameroon.
Long Live Cameroon
Long Live Africa
Do not be fooled by empty speeches against America and her friends on the United Nations stage, ruthless African dictators are not Pan-Africanists.
Source(s): BBC, Africa News
Photo Credit: VON