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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Election 2018: five things to know about Cameroon in 2018

Cameroon, where President Paul Biya, in power almost 36 years, is seeking a seventh term Sunday, is the largest economy in Central Africa, experiencing almost daily violence

Cameroon, where President Paul Biya, in power almost The 36-year-old is seeking a seventh term Sunday, is the largest economy in Central Africa, suffering near-daily violence in its two English-speaking regions.

- "Africa in miniature"

Cameroon shares borders with Chad, Central Africa , Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria. After the First World War this former German protectorate is divided in two, the eastern part under French mandate and the western part under British mandate.

Cameroon became independent in 1960. The following year, part of the territory under British tutelage chose the attachment to the French-speaking Cameroon, the other part to Nigeria.

Cameroon, whose name is derived from Portuguese "rio dos camarões" (river of shrimps, name given by explorers), is often called "miniature Africa" ​​because of its geographical, climatic, mining and ethnic diversity.

Francophones are the majority, with Anglophones accounting for about 20% of the 23 million inhabitants.

Three-quarters of the population was under 25 in 2014 (latest available figures).

- Biya, one of the deans of African presidents

The first Cameroonian president, Ahmadou Ahidjo, resigned in November 1982 for the benefit of his Prime Minister, Paul Biya. The latter, who seeks Sunday a new term, has presided over the country without sharing for nearly 36 years, a longevity allowed by a constitutional revision in 2008 that has removed the limitation of presidential terms.

In Africa, only the President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been in power for longer (1979).

- Anglophone Separatism and Boko Haram

The two English-speaking regions (North-West and South-West) have been in a deep political and security crisis since the end of 2016. It began with demonstrations, led by English-speaking lawyers and teachers, to protest discriminations suffered by them according to them.

The fighting between soldiers and separatists has become almost daily, resulting in the displacement of nearly 200,000 people fleeing the violence.

The separatists, who attack the police and the symbols of the administration, claim to want to restore in an independent state "the dignity" of the English-speaking minority.

The country is also facing since 2009 attacks and kidnappings of Nigerian jihadists Boko Haram in the Far North, which have significantly decreased in recent months.

- Diversified economy

Cameroon benefits from abundant natural resources such as oil, precious wood, minerals, coffee, cotton, cocoa and cassava.

In 2017, growth slowed due to the maturity of the main oil fields and an epidemic of bird flu, according to the World Bank, which estimated in April at 3.7%.

This year, growth is expected to accelerate to around 4% thanks to the exploitation of new gas fields, construction activities for the 2019 African Cup of Nations and an increase in energy supply, according to the IMF.

Doubts, however, hover over the country's ability to organize the competition. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will make its final decision in late November.

The number of poor grew by 12% between 2007 and 2014, reaching 8.1 million, against a backdrop of rapid population growth, according to the World Bank.

Only 10% of the employed have a formal job and a third of the inhabitants live on less than 2 euros a day.

China is the largest trading partner and the largest foreign investor.

The port of Douala, the main outlet for landlocked Central African countries such as Chad and the Central African Republic, is characterized by dilapidated infrastructure, congestion, corruption and red tape.

- Dibango, Beyala and Waza Park

The saxophonist Manu Dibango, famous for mixing jazz with African sounds, is from Cameroon, as is the novelist Calixthe Beyala.

In the north, Waza National Park, known for its giraffes, antelopes and elephants, once hosted several thousand annual visitors, a flow that dried up after kidnappings by Boko Haram.