YAOUNDE -- Cameroon is to hold presidential elections on Oct 7, President Paul Biya confirmed by decree, ending speculation about whether polls would go ahead in the violence-stricken nation.

Lawmakers last week approved a bill postponing parliamentary elections until 2019.

English-speaking areas of western Cameroon are gripped by an armed insurgency, and at least 160,000 people have fled their homes according to the UN.

President Biya has yet to say whether he will bid for another term in office. The 85-year-old is now Africa's oldest and longest-serving president having come to power in 1982. In 2008, Cameroon's parliament passed an constitutional amendment allowing Biya to run for another term in 2011.

The main opposition, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), has already designated its candidate, Joshua Osih.

Other declared candidates include Akere Muna, a lawyer and former vice-president of Transparency International, and Maurice Kamto, head of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC).

In June, it emerged that only 3% of new voters registered since the start of the year are from the country's Anglophone regions, although English speakers account for about 20% of Cameroon's population.

Reactions from the ruling and opposition parties in Cameroon have been pouring in after the announcement of the date of the presidential election, set for Oct 7.

Some opposition supporters have criticised the move.

It is difficult to understand that in a democratic country, the President of the Republic expected to be candidate during the elections holds the exclusive right to choose the date for an election. In other countries where democracy is ideal, the date of the presidential election is known at least twelve months in advance, a leading opposition spokesman Robert Wafo said.

According to members of the ruling CPDM party in Cameroon the president acted in accordance with the law.

I am not surprised. The head of state is a legalist, a republican, he does it within the framework of the law, he respects the deadlines and he did well to convene this presidential election, which must be a great moment of republican truth, because the sovereign people will choose democratically and within the framework of the laws of the Republic, the destiny that he wants, CPDM supporter Herve Emmanuel Nkom said.

Opposition parties in Cameroon have not succeeded to form a coalition.


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