Ahidjo introduced one of the worst repressive regimes of the
1960s in southern Africa. European human rights groups
stated that there were thousands of political prisoners in
the country's prisons. Ahidjo resigned unexpectedly in 1982
and he was replaced by his former prime minister, lawyer
Paul Biya. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of CM and its meanings of Cameroon.
Biya continued the political and economic line of the
former government, but Ahidjo's supporters, in collaboration
with people from the army, tried to conduct a coup d'état.
It was the young people, especially the students, who at
street fights went against the coup makers. The rise in
unemployment and food shortages undermined the image of
Cameroon as a welfare society. The president tried to
strengthen his power in the accelerated elections in April
1984, when democratic organizations were banned, and he
obtained re-election. However, the instability led to a new
coup attempt and a series of bloody clashes that left 200
During this period, UNC was renamed the Cameroon's
Democratic Group, the RDPC, but the policy was the same.
While the UPC tried to adopt a more flexible attitude to
regain its social hinterland, Biya founded new provinces to
weaken the economic and political influence of Muslims in
the north. The oil extraction led to renewed ethnic
conflicts and to rivalry between the English and French
speakers. The problems that arose in the fall in world
market prices for coffee, rubber and cotton were exacerbated
by the reliance on a handful of French companies, which
controlled almost 44% of all exports.
In 1988, Biya was re-elected. The press censorship became
more stringent and Biya also assumed the post of prime
In connection with the fall in oil prices and the
financial burden associated with repayment of the external
debt, the government introduced a structural adjustment
program while trying to stabilize the country's finances
with the assistance of the IMF and the World Bank. The debt
was renegotiated with the Paris Club, and an agreement was
reached based on a reduction in imports and government
spending, privatization of public companies and a banking
In 1990, social and political organizations accused the
government of backing hundreds of Cameroon residents. Some
months later, the government allowed the creation of
political parties; about 70 political organizations became
legal in this way.
In November 1991, opposition leaders demanded, in part,
the reintroduction of the federal system abolished in 1972,
and partly a constitutional reform. The country's political
crisis worsened, with strikes and large demonstrations
demanding the introduction of democracy. Police reprisals
cost hundreds of people their lives.
In December, the government decided to hold elections to
take place in February 1992. The opposition demanded a prior
regulation of the Constitution and the electoral system, but
several parties nevertheless participated in the elections
that took place on March 1, 1992.
The RDCP won 88 of Parliament's 180 seats, while the UNDP
captured 68. According to official figures, turnout was 61%.
Biya accelerated the holding of the presidential election
until October 11, 1992, attended by representatives from 7
political parties. Among these was John Fru Ndi of the
leading opposition party FSD representing the English
speakers. Both the FSD and Cameroon's Democratic Union had
boycotted the March 1992 election.
The government's victory of 39.98% of the vote against
the FSD's 35.97% - under widespread suspicion of electoral
fraud - led to riots in the northeastern English-speaking
province - Mrs Ndi's base.
Despite declarations by the international election
observers that election fraud had taken place, the Supreme
Court rejected the declaration invalid. Mrs. Ndi appointed
herself president. The government declared the northeastern
province in an emergency, while Ms. Ndi and his supporters
were placed under house arrest.
In November, a coalition government was formed with the
participation of the RDCP and some smaller parties. The
repression increased and led to international protests;
especially when four members of the Bar Council were
arrested in December for leading a demonstration - one of
the lawyers died after torture. US stopped aid to Cameroon;
Biya abrogated the state of emergency and released Ms. Ndi.