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French Cameroons achieved independence in 1960 as the Republic of Cameroon. The following year, on October 1, 1961, the largely Muslim northern two-thirds of British Cameroons voted to join Nigeria; the largely Christian southern third, Southern Cameroons, voted to join with the Republic of Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The formerly French and British regions each maintained substantial autonomy. Ahmadou Ahidjo, a French-educated Fulani, was chosen president of the federation in 1961.
Ahidjo, relying on a pervasive internal security apparatus, outlawed all political parties but his own in 1966. He successfully suppressed the continuing UPC rebellion, capturing the last important rebel leader in 1970. In 1972, a new constitution replaced the federation with a unitary state called the United Republic of Cameroon.
Although Ahidjo's rule was characterised as authoritarian, he was seen as noticeably lacking in charisma in comparison to many post-colonial African leaders. He didn't follow the anti-western policies pursued by many of these leaders, which helped Cameroon achieve a degree of comparative political stability and economic growth.
Corruption in Cameroon
Despite democratic reform begun in 1990 with the legalization of political parties other than the CPDM, political power remains firmly in the hands of President Biya and a small circle of CPDM members from his own ethnic group. Biya was reelected on October 11, 1992 amid accusations of voting irregularities. Biya reportedly got 39 percent of the vote to 35 percent for John Fru Ndi. (Ndi briefly proclaimed himself president before the government released the polling figures.)
In contrast, the March 1, 1992 legislative election was considered free and fair by international observers, although many parties boycotted the elections and the CPDM won several constituencies by default. But even though opposition parties were well-represented in the legislature (92 of 180 seats), there were, according to the 1992 constitution, few legislative or judicial checks on the president.