Scheduled for 2025, Cameroon’s presidential election is already front-page news. Although it is still subtle – hardly, it has to be said – it does not take much brainstorming to understand that, at present, a number of measures are being taken to, if not prevent, make it more complicated for certain opposition leaders to submit their candidatures, notably Maurice Kamto of the Cameroon’s Renaissance Movement (CRM) and Cabral Libii of the Cameroon Party for National Reconciliation (CPNR).

Maurice Kamto: No elected representatives, no candidacy

Re-elected as leader of the CRM at the Yaoundé congress in December 2023, Maurice Kamto immediately announced his candidacy for the 2025 presidential election. However, his party, the CRM, has no elected members – having boycotted the municipal and legislative elections of February 2020 – which automatically disqualifies him from standing as a candidate in the next presidential election.

In principle, this situation should pose no problem for the CRM, given that 2025 will also see the election of mayors and deputies whose terms of office will end in the same year. This will be an opportunity for the CRM to put forward candidates for these elections, enabling them to meet the conditions for standing as candidates.

But nothing is certain: there is always the possibility of organising an early presidential election, which would put the CRM in a tricky position: no elected representatives, no candidates. Or the government could organise the presidential election before organising the other elections, with a similar result. It should be remembered that no one, apart from the President of the Republic, has control over the electoral timetable, which in itself is a handicap for opposition parties.

Maurice Kamto’s strategy to circumvent these eventualities was to create a coalition of opposition parties, some of which would have elected representatives, and which would present him as their candidate. This is how the Political Alliance for Change (PAC) came into being. However, the APC is not unanimously supported by the opposition. Moreover, in response to its creation, another coalition called APT (Alliance for Political Transition) was formed, also with the ambition of bringing the opposition together for the forthcoming presidential election.

Under these conditions, will Maurice Kamto be able to present his candidacy for the 2025 election? If he cannot stand under the banner of a political party or coalition, will he be able to stand as an independent candidate (which requires 300 endorsements)?

Cabral Libii: no party, no candidacy

What is special about Cabral Libii, who came third in the 2018 presidential election according to official figures, is that he has no political party. In 2018, he represented Professor Prosper Nkou Mvondo’s UNIVERS party. Their paths having since parted, Cabral Libii has found another adopted party, the Cameroonian Party for National Reconciliation (CPNR), of which he is the current president.

At least, until very recently. There is a battle going on between Cabral Libii and Robert Kona, one of the founders of the CPNR, who is challenging Cabral Libii’s presidency of the party.

In this battle, Mr Kona succeeded in having the party congress at which the president would be elected banned. No one in the CPNR is shying away from pointing the finger at the Minister of Territorial Administration (MINAT), Paul Atanga Nji, as being the one leading these attacks, the obvious target of which is Cabral Libii.

The latest episode in this fratricidal battle is the definitive exclusion of Robert Kona from the party, which was deemed illegal by the Minister of Territorial Administration. In return, Robert Kona, who now signs himself “Founding President”, in turn excluded Cabral Libii and some twenty other members from the ranks of “his party”.

While awaiting MINAT’s reaction, it remains certain that Cabral Libii’s future with the CPNR is now questionable, and consequently his participation in the 2025 presidential election. Cabral Libii has explained that he has tried many times to create his own political group (” The Citizens “), but has always come up against insurmountable obstacles.

Which opposition for 2025?

The results of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) in the 2018 election – 4th with 3.35% of the valid votes cast – were not reassuring. The party, which had always occupied centre stage, seems to have lost influence since the historic leader, John Fru Ndi, handed over to Joshua Osih.

The party, whose stronghold is the English-speaking regions where the war has been raging for several years, now seems very weakened.

So if things look set to be complicated for Maurice Kamto and Cabral Libii, which party will be able to shake the giant ruling CPDM? The film of the 2025 presidential elections in Cameroon seems to have several more episodes to go.

Moudjo Tobue

Photo : AMISOM/Iwaria