Paul Biya has been President of Cameroon
since 1982. In the fall of 2018, at the age of 85, he
was re-elected for a new seven-year term. The security
situation in the country is the most important political
issue. In the English-speaking areas, a separatist
insurgency is underway and in the north the Islamist
extremist group Boko Haram is making violent raids from
Biya and his ruling party RDPC have a strong grip on
power. This was confirmed in the parliamentary elections
in autumn 2013, which had been postponed several times.
RDCP won a superior victory. Once again, the opposition
accused the authorities of electoral fraud and
international observers reported many cases of
Country facts and history of Cameroon, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The RDPC also dominates the House of Parliament
(Senate) and the country's local political assemblies.
The most important political issues are the fight
against widespread corruption (see Democracy and Rights)
and the security situation in the northern and western
parts of the country.
The violence in the north
During the 2010s, a worsening security situation in
neighboring countries has led to violence and unrest in
Cameroon as well. Civil war in the Central African
Republic between 2012 and 2015 drove hundreds of
thousands of refugees from there into Cameroon (see
Population and Languages) and the fighting occasionally
reached across the country's border.
Even more serious was the threat from the Islamist
terror movement Boko Haram, which through its brutal
ravages in northern Nigeria has forced hundreds of
thousands of Nigerians to seek protection in Cameroon.
In 2011, the movement also began to raid Cameroonian
territory and from 2014 the group's activities in the
country increased. Boko Haram attacks and raids villages
in search of food and attacks police and army posts to
get over weapons. Thousands of people have been killed
or kidnapped in connection with the raids.
To stop Boko Haram, the government has deployed
large-scale troops in the Northwest, adopted tough
anti-terrorism laws and initiated security cooperation
with neighboring countries. The progress of the
Islamists has not been able to stop, but it has slowed
down from 2015. The Islamists are now recruiting members
in Cameroon as well.
Rebellion among the English speakers
In the English-speaking regions of the northwest and
southwest (see Population and Languages), a conflict is
ongoing between protesters demanding greater
self-government and government troops trying to quell
the protests. In the areas there are also armed
separatist groups that have increased their resistance
significantly since autumn 2017.
The English-speaking minority, which make up a fifth
of the population, feels discriminated against in
education and the labor market. It addresses the
dominance of the French language in the social
The English speakers stepped up their campaign for
greater independence at the end of 2016 through protests
that met with violence and government arrest. After the
separatist forces among the English-speaking people
adopted a symbolic declaration of independence and on
social media proclaimed the Republic of Ambozonia, in
October 2017 the tension quickly increased.
Behind the explanation was the Armed Forces Group of
the Armed Forces (ADF) and its political branch of the
Ambassador's Governing Council (AGC). AGC leader Julius
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe proclaimed himself Ambassador's
President. He was sentenced in August 2019 by a military
court to life imprisonment for terrorism and separatism.
At the same time, nine other separatists were sentenced
to the same sentence for similar crimes. The ten were
also fined a total of $ 422 million.
Clashes between separatists who have taken up arms
and government troops now belong to everyday life. Both
sides commit serious abuses against the civilian
population (see Democracy and Rights). Since the
fighting broke out in the fall of 2017, more than 3,000
people have been killed and half a million forced to
flee their homes. Tens of thousands have crossed the
border into Nigeria. At least seven militia consisting
of a total of around 4,000 men are fighting for their
own state in the English-speaking areas.
Paul Biya re-elected
After an electoral movement with sharply escalated
violence in the two English-speaking regions and unrest
in the north, the Cameroons went to presidential
elections in October 2018. Parliamentary and local
elections would have been held at the same time but
postponed for organizational reasons. 85-year-old Paul
Biya won the presidential election by a large margin and
could thus remain for another seven years. Maurice
Kampto received the second most votes from the rebirth
of the opposition Cameroon (MRC).
Three opposition parties questioned the electoral
process and demanded that the election be annulled
because of government cheating. The complaints were
rejected by the Constitutional Court.
In early October 2019, Biya invited various groupings
to a national dialogue on how to resolve the conflict
with the English-speaking regions. Radical militant
groups were not invited. The dialogue had two results.
MRC leader Maurice Kampto was released along with 330
other opposition parties (including many MRC members)
and the criminal investigations against them were
closed. In addition, the English-speaking areas were
proposed to have increased self-government in the form
of increased taxation rights, elected governors and the
reinstatement of their traditional leaders (chieftains).
The proposal was rejected by the radical groups that
demand full independence.
Parliamentary elections with violence and boycott
In February 2020, parliamentary and local elections
were held after being postponed by Biya on two
occasions. About 50 parties lined up with candidates,
but MRC chose to boycott the election for fear of
electoral fraud. The MRC, whose leader Kamto was now
abroad, wanted to see changes in the electoral system
and an end to the separatist uprising in the west before
the elections were held. However, the largest opposition
party SDF participated in the election, after some
The election movement was described as dimmed. In the
north, it was difficult to carry out an electoral
movement because of the threat from Boko Haram. In the
English-speaking areas, separatists tried to stop the
election by kidnapping several candidates, election
officials and people carrying a voting card, Voice of
According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW),
militant separatists in the English-speaking areas
kidnapped more than 100 civilians and burned down
several polling stations, a post office where election
materials were preserved and at least seven private
residences belonging to candidates, election workers,
etc. Separatists harassed and attacked people who wanted
to participate in the elections as voters, election
directors, election workers or candidates. Government
soldiers and the police also committed "other types of
abuse". Between January 17 and 20, 2020, the military
destroyed an offensive of over 50 homes and killed
several civilians, including two men with intellectual
disabilities, according to HRW.
The election day itself was reported to be calm in
the French-speaking areas while shooting was heard in
the cities of Buea and Kuma in the English-speaking
parts of Cameroon. There, some residents had chosen to
leave their homes for fear of outbreaks of violence
between government soldiers and separatists.
In late February, the Cameroon Constitutional Council
annulled the parliamentary elections in parts of the
English-speaking regions. The election must be redone in
the constituency of Lebialem in the South West region
and in ten constituencies in the North West region.
These areas suffered extensive violence during the
The final election results were announced at the end
of February 2020. The ruling RDPC won a major victory
with 139 seats against 7 seats for the UNDP alliance
party and 5 seats for opposition SDFs. The turnout was
very low, just under 46 percent.
Read about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS - POLITICS
Republic of Cameroon/Republic of Cameroon/Republic of
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Paul Biya (1982–)
Head of government
President Paul Biya (1982–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Cameroonian People's Democratic Assembly (RDPC) 152,
National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) 7,
Social Democratic Front 5, other 16 (2020)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Cameroon People's Democratic Assembly/RDPC (148),
Social Democratic Front/ SDF (18), National Union for
Democracy and Progress/UNDP (5), Cameroon Democratic
Union/UDC (4), Cameroonian People's Union/UPC (3),
Others (2) (2013)
53.5% in the 2018 presidential election, 46% in the
2020 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections 2025, presidential elections