Cameroon has finally set a date for its presidential election

Will he run?
Will he run?
Image: EPA-EFE/Lintao Zhang /Pool
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Cameroon’s president Paul Biya has confirmed that the country will hold its presidential election on Oct. 7, removing all doubts over whether the violence-gripped, oil-rich nation would make it to the polls.

Biya, 85, has been in power since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. In 2008, Cameroon’s parliament passed an amendment that paved the way for him to run for a third term in office in 2011. He eventually secured another seven-year term. In the latest presidential decree, however, Biya didn’t specify if he would run for office again.

The decision to hold presidential elections comes a few days after lawmakers adopted a bill that postponed parliamentary polls until Oct. 2019.

The elections in the central African nation will take place in a delicate and volatile context. There are genuine fears that the nation could slide into a civil war as violence continues in the Southwest and Northwest Anglophone regions. Government forces have continuously clashed with separatist forces who want the two regions to secede from the majority French-speaking nation and form a state dubbed Ambazonia. The government’s crackdown has led to the death of dozens of security officers and civilians, precipitated a refugee crisis, and dampened economic growth.