Maurice Kamto, a leading opposition challenger to President Paul Biya, claimed victory on Monday in Cameroon’s presidential election despite a government warning not to announce unofficial results.
The dramatic announcement by the candidate of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) follows Sunday polls marked by violence in restive anglophone regions, low turnout and difficulties staging the ballot in the conflict-torn north.
By law each polling station must submit its results, after verification by the Elecam electoral commission, to the Constitutional Court, which is responsible for announcing the final, official tally within 15 days.
“I was charged with taking a penalty, I took it and I scored,” said Kamto at a media conference in Yaounde.
“I have received a clear mandate from the people and I intend to defend it until the end,” he added.
But the secretary general of Biya’s ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement, Labour Minister Grégoire Owona, accused Kamto of breaking the law.
“It is not right at all to announce this. He hasn’t won anything at all. It’s totally illegal,” he said, adding that it was too early to say if anyone had won.
A raft of unofficial results from Cameroon’s almost 25,000 polling stations have already begun to circulate on social media.
Ahead of Kamto’s declaration, Paul Atanga-Nji, the minister for territorial administration, called on “all the political players… to act responsibly so that the process concludes in the same spirit as it started”.
“Any attempt to disrupt public order will be handled thoroughly,” Atanga-Nji had said.
Opposition candidates had called on their supporters to oversee the tallying process to prevent any fraud that might favour 85-year-old Biya’s quest for re-election.