YAOUNDE, July 24, 2007 (AFP) - President Paul Biya's party, the Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People (RDPC), won a landslide victory in Sunday's legislative and municipal elections, according to provisional results issued late Monday.
It grabbed at least 152 of the 180 seats in the National Assembly, compared with 149 in the outgoing parliament, the government's minister for territorial administration, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, told the press.
The opposition had warned that if the RDPC got a two-thirds majority in the assembly it could revise the constitution to allow Biya, already head of state for a quarter of a century, to seek a new mandate in 2011.
The main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) headed by John Fru Ndi was down from 22 to 14 deputies in the chamber while Adamou Ndam Njoya's Cameroonian Democratic Union won four seats, against five previously, and the Progressive Movement entered parliament with one seat.
The pro-government National Union for Democracy and Progress doubled its presence in the assembly with two seats. Seven seats remained to be decided.
In the municipal elections the presidential party won 303 out of 363 communes.
Turnout among the some five million electors was 62 percent, Yaya said, dropping to 49 percent in Yaounde and 30 percent in Douala.
Cameroon's opposition earlier Monday said "massive fraud" had marred the elections and vowed to challenge the results in court even as votes were still being counted.
Even before Sunday's vote, the opposition claimed Biya was trying to preserve his stranglehold over the west African nation at any cost.
Others, however, said the elections were far better planned than in 2002, when they had to be deferred due to poor organisation.
Jacob Beide, coordinator for a group of election observers from African non-governmental organisations, said Sunday: "Fraud attempts and fraud have been reported -- at least one case of ballot box stuffing and the majority of people are voting without identity cards."
Graft is rampant in oil-rich Cameroon, with the country regularly listed as among Africa's most corrupt by Transparency International, and Biya is accused by critics of trampling on democracy and human rights.
Oil wealth has not trickled down to the millions of poor.
Biya was appointed prime minister in 1975 and has been president since 1982.