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Fear grips Yaoundé city dwellers ahead of tomorrow’s election

Mirabelle Nah operates a call box around the Yaoundé I University and she is gripped by fear.

She tells her neighbours last Friday night that she is closing at 10:00pm rather than the usual midnight. “Today, business is not just moving, people are not around, everybody is just indoors just because of the election,” she said.

This, she said, is because of the election and everybody is afraid of the unknown. According to Mirabelle, the situation is worsened by the Minister of Territorial Administration’s decision restricting movements and circulation 48 hours before polling day.

Over at a popular bakery called Le Best metres away from the Third District Police Station, most of the chairs are empty and the usual hustling and bustling experienced on Friday nights is visibly absent, as everybody seems to be rushing home.

A lady we met buying some groceries also told us that election has made everything to come to a stand-still. “Presently they are arresting Anglophones, sometimes even with an ID card,” she said. Today, I left my job very early and when my boss asked I told him I don’t want to get cut in the web of insecurity and arrest that is going on in town.

As we cruised through town, we met a group of boys, purportedly from the ruling CPDM party campaigns owing to their T-shirts fighting over leftover money with one of them screaming to the top of his voice for his own FCFA 500. This scared the people around who thought what they are afraid of has finally met them.

It was at 9:00pm when we made our entry into a popular VIP snack at Cradat and the managers told us that today is not the usual Saturday, that they are closing, informing us to come some other time.

At the level of churches, significant changes have also been done to their programmes. The Baptist Church Etoudi rescheduled its Service for Saturday afternoon instead of the usual Sunday morning, while at the Presbyterian Church Nsimeyong, the two services have been fused to one which would run through 60 minutes rather than the usual 120 minutes and above.

Generally, Yaoundé has been very calm these days with only the politicians and campaign teams in blooming noise and outfits of their various candidates.

This year’s International Teachers Day passed almost unnoticed as many schools did not bother to have the usual booming celebrations. The day was virtually eclipsed by the ghost of a Presidential election like none before.

The heightened tension is also caused by the imposing presence of security officers in most strategic corners of the town conducting patrols and controls.

According to a confidential letter from the Minister of Defence, Joseph Beti Assomo, to all security operatives in and around Yaoundé, suspected “secessionist terrorists” have entered the town with the aim of causing attacks between October 1 and 7, obstructing the Presidential election on Sunday.

More many watchdogs and international rights group have also raised an alarm of post-electoral violence. In a recent report by International Crisis Group(ICG), Cameroon is at the brink of collapsing owing to the division and violence ongoing in the Anglophone Regions.

However, Government’s Spokesperson and Communication Minister, Issa Tchiroma has criticised the report claiming such organisations have an agenda of destabilising Cameroon.

Apart from the division manifesting in the form of violence in Anglophone Cameroon, most organisations have warned that there is growing dissatisfaction on Paul Biya’s decision to seek for another mandate after spending close to four decades in power. Whereas, cohorts of the Lion man have vowed to do everything possible to maintain him in power for the next seven years.

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