- He says president set up "maggot parties" to fracture his group
- 23 candidates are seeking the presidency in vote October 9
- Opposition chief says he would cut term short
The chairman of Cameroon's main opposition party, John Fru Ndi, said Monday that the other opposition parties competing in October's presidential race are "maggots."
Fru Ndi told supporters at a rally in the opposition stronghold of Bamenda that nearly all the parties running alongside his Social Democratic Front were set up by President Paul Biya as a ploy to fracture the main party.
Fru Ndi says he will resign after three years if he is elected president, rather than the usual seven-year term.
Twenty-three candidates will be on the ballot in the West African nation on October 9.
Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, a Biya Cabinet minister, denied that the president created the "maggot parties" to weaken the Social Democratic Front but pointed to the relative peace enjoyed under Biya's rule.
Biya's campaigners have been renewing promises made over the course of his 29-year rule, adding that he is seeking another term because it is the people's choice.
But Melvis Acho, a resident of Bamenda, disagreed. "We are tired of Mr. Biya alone ruling this nation for nearly 30 years with total repression. We lack jobs and even basic health care. Epidemics like cholera run for over a year, and no one seems to care. Corrupt officials and embezzlers walk away with impunity."
In Bamenda, Fru Ndi raised the possibility of protests.
"I would not opt for youths to take to the streets in protest like that of the Arab Spring, but if Mr. Biya's regime this time violates a free, fair and transparent election as he has always done, I would change my mind," he told supporters.
The state-run media, CRTV, is being criticized by opposition candidates as favoring Biya's Cameroon Peoples' Democratic Movement in order to render them voiceless in the campaign.