France says Cameroon vote marred by 'irregularities'

22nd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

France, which previously termed Cameroon's October 9 presidential vote "acceptable", on Saturday said the poll which saw President Paul Biya re-elected to a sixth term was marred by "irregularities."

"During the vote, a number of flaws and irregularities were noted," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.

"France hopes that measures will be taken so that these do not occur during the legislative and municipal elections of 2012," he added.

The comments contrast an October 11 assessment from French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who said the vote "took place in acceptable conditions", citing reports from some international observers.

US ambassador to Cameroon Robert Jackson on Thursday condemned the running of the election, saying there had been irregularities at every level.

Biya, in power for 29 years, was reelected with nearly 78 percent of the vote, while his closest challenger John Fru Ndi secured nearly 11 percent support, according to official results released by the supreme court Friday.

Paris "hopes that the authorities will quickly undertake reforms to address the legitimate aspirations of the Cameroonian people" Valero also said Saturday.

France, Cameroon's former colonial power, backed Biya's rise to the presidency in 1982.

Fru Ndi and six other opposition candidates have called on supporters to demonstrate massively against an election they said was rigged in Biya's favour from the start.

Before the final results were announced late Friday, police had stepped up security in towns across the country, according to sources, while the authorities in Douala, the economic capital, had banned demonstrations, local media reported.

© 2011 AFP

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