German protectorate since 1884, the Cameroon was occupied during the First World War by France and England. In 1960 the French Cameroon gained independence (Republic of Cameroon), under the leadership of the moderate Union camerounaise (UC), whose leader, A. Ahidjo, was elected president of the Republic. In the British Cameroon, which had been united with Nigeria, a plebiscite was held in 1961: the northern region opted for Nigeria, the southern one for the Republic del Cameroon, giving life (1961) to the Federal Republic of Cameroon, which was divided into two states (Cameroon Orientale and Cameroon Occidentale), endowed with limited autonomy. President of the Republic became Ahidjo, while the office of vice president went to the Prime Minister of the Western Cameroon, J. Foncha, leader of the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP). In 1966 the Union nationale camerounaise (UNC; since 1984, Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais, RDPC) was born from the merger between UC and KNDP.
According to localcollegeexplorer, the 1972 Constitution annulled the federal structure, proclaiming the United Republic of Cameroon. Re-elected in 1975 and 1980, Ahidjo left the presidency of the Republic to P. Biya in 1982. The country resumed the name of the Republic of Cameroon in 1984, when a bloody attempted military coup d’état, of which Ahidjo was accused, was followed by a further strengthening of presidential power. Biya found himself facing strong tensions (ethnic and political), also fueled by growing economic difficulties, which he tried to cope with with austerity measures.
In the early 1990s, the government responded to an attempt to revive opposition activity (National Coordination Committee of Opposition Parties, NCCOP) by imposing a state of siege and suspending all political activity. The legislative elections (1992, 1997, 2002) were won by the DPRK and the presidential ones (1992, 1997, 2004) confirmed Biya; the 1995 Constitution further strengthened presidential power.
In the international field, Cameroon, formally not aligned, has a privileged relationship with France, on which it is dependent on an economic level (in 2000 aid from international organizations was also significant).
In the elections held in October 2011, Biya was reconfirmed as president for the third consecutive term, obtaining 78% of the votes, although there was a high rate of abstentions and the opposition denounced irregularities in the votes. To thethe legislative and administrative elections of 2013, the DPRK won 148 out of 180 seats in the National Assembly, managing to govern without the need for a coalition in 300 of the 360 municipalities of the country, while the Social Democratic Front (SDF) won 18 seats, establishing itself as the main opposition party. Although since 2012, during the institutional celebrations for the thirtieth anniversary of the government of Biya, popular discontent against the prolonged presidency of the politician has been growing and organizing in protests, the elections held in October 2018 have confirmed the outgoing president in office for the seventh consecutive term with 71.3% of the votes, while the opposition candidate and founder of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) party M. Kamto, who had initially claimed victory, won 14.2% of the votes. Parliamentary consultations held in March 2020 predictably confirmed the DPRK of Biya in power, winning 139 out of 167 seats.
Dictionary of History
Cameroon West African state, with Yaoundé as its capital. Area of origin of the Bantu languages, Cameroon, straddling the transition area between the plateaus and the equatorial forest, is distinctly regionalized. The North, under the influence of the Kanem already at the end of the first millennium, Islamized with the jihad of Uthman Dan Fodio, in the first 19th century. it was dominated by Fulani aristocracies (➔ Adamaoua); the western plateau it is populated by Bamileke, Christian-animists divided into a series of small monarchies; the bamum of the Center built a centralized kingdom and passed to Islam in the late nineteenth century (➔ Njoya); in the eastern forest live Bantu groups similar to the people of Gabon. In 1472 the Portuguese Fernando Po gave the mouth of the River Wouri the name Rio dos Camarões (“prawns”), hence Cameroon. Affected by the slave trade, the coasts of the country saw the settlement of Germany in Douala in 1884 and the creation of a German protectorate, which was then extended and consolidated. Occupied by the French and British in the First World War (1916) and divided into two colonial mandates by the League of Nations (1919), much of Cameroon went to Paris while England had western areas, which it united with Nigeria. UN trust since 1946, it was agitated on the French side by an anticolonial movement led by the Union des populations camerunaises (UPC), experiencing an armed revolt (1955). Endowed with self-government since 1957, the French Cameroon became independent on January 1, 1960, under the presidency of Ahmadou Ahidjo, a northerner, and in October 1961 joined in federation with the former British Cameroon, who had opted for a federal union (except for a small territory left in Nigeria). French and English were official languages and the two main parties merged into the Union nationale camerounaise (UNC, 1966). But the federal structure was quickly emptied of effective powers and in 1972 it was replaced by a unitary and one-party republic, authoritatively ruled by Ahidjo. In 1982, he voluntarily left the presidency in favor of Paul Biya, but in 1983 the relations between the two degenerated and Ahidjo, ousted from the UNC, was exiled and in 1984 was sentenced to death in absentia, while Biya, foiled a coup and having initially launched some democratic openings, he consolidated his power in an autocratic key. A growing dissent, complicated by the autonomist demands of the Anglophone West and by the economic crisis linked to the price trend of the main exports, especially cocoa, coffee, oil (a structural adjustment plan was adopted in 1987), led Biya to implement a return to multi-party (1990), but the power structure remained unchanged and tensions with the English-speaking community continued. Cameroon has a per capita income among the ten highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, but it is one of the most corrupt countries. In 2005-06 it achieved a drastic reduction in its external debt. Re-elected in 1992, 1997 and 2004, in consultations always accused of irregularities, Biya obtained a constitutional amendment in 2008 that allowed him to reappear as a candidate in 2011. In 2008, following a very long territorial dispute with Nigeria, Cameroon gained full control over the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula.